Faculty Bookshelf: Melinda Alliker Rabb

Satire and Secrecy in English Literature from 1650 to 1750

Melinda Alliker Rabb


This book revises assumptions about satire as a public, masculine discourse derived from classical precedents, in order to develop theoretical and critical paradigms that accommodate women, popular culture, and postmodern theories of language as a potentially aggressive, injurious act. Although Habermas places satirists like Swift and Pope in the public sphere, this book investigates their participation in clandestine strategies of attack in a world understood to be harboring dangerous secrets. Authors of anonymous pamphlets as well as major figures including Behn, Dryden, Manley, Swift, and Pope, share at times what Swift called the writer’s “life by stealth.”


"The significance of Satire and Secrecy would be in its suggestion of an explanatory/critical model for reading post-Augustan satire that brings a conception of secrecy (with its various employment of gossip, slander, secret history, and so on) into the picture as a key satiric strategy. Rabb's view of satiric secrecy would open up doors of understanding for numerous texts. Her study, provocatively and broadly contemplates a conceptual revision of the public/private divide."--Ruben Quintero, California State University, Los Angeles

ISBN: 978-1-4039-8434-0