Polite conversation


  • Intro

    The satirist Jonathan Swift published Polite Conversation in 1738. It consists of three satirical dialogues at breakfast, dinner and tea, presented as a guide to ‘Genteel and Ingenious Conversation, According to the Most Polite Mode and Method Now Used at Court, and in the Best Companies of England’.



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    The text is full of catch phrases, colloquialisms, slang, oaths, exclamations, greetings, farewells and all kinds of banality. Several features, such as prefacing a remark with pray, come or faith, capture polite conversation of the period. Swift may be poking fun at phrases that were considered over-polite or archaic even then.


    Shelfmark: 1080.k.16.

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