THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AS A SATIRE: DR. HARESHWAR ROY
Jonathan Swift is one of the best satirist of English literature. He belongs to the 18th century
England. He is
always remembered for his 'A Tale Of A Tub', ' Gulliver's Travels' and ' The
Battle of the Books'. All these satires earned wide acclaim. In these three
satires, he vehemently satirised the follies and vices of the life of the time.
The political, religious and literary controversies are treated as major themes
in these satires. His satires are full of imagination, inventiveness and
of the Books' is written on the famous controversies on the relative matters of
the ancient writers. In this controversy Swift took the side of Sir William
Temple, his patron. Temple
favoured the merits of the ancients. Bentley and Wotton challenged Temple's views. The
battle started. In this battle Swift favours the ancients.
Swift has given this controversy a shape of satire. This controversy is the major theme of ' The Battle of the Books'. This beautiful satire deals with five incidents. The first of the five incidents form the main body of the satire. This incident deals with the dispute between the ancients and the moderns for the write to live on the highest
. This has been treated in
allegorical manner. The second part of this incident takes a serious turn. In a
corner of the St. James Library the battle among the books takes place. This
incident has been treated in mock- heroic manner. peak of Parnassus
The second incident concerns the episode of the spider and the bee. The spider is the symbol of the moderns and the bee represents the ancients. With the help of this fable Swift wants to say that like spiders the moderns put forth dirt. Like bees the ancients spread honey and sweetness. Thus here Swift has proved the superiority of the ancients. Later on the satirist presents the picture of the battlefield. Both the groups stand against each other. The battle starts. These groups use all sorts of weapons. On the one side there are Pollas, Homer, Pindar, Euclid, Aristotle and Plato. Bacon, Dryden and some others are on the other side. At last the ancients win the battle.
Thus ' The Battle Of The Books' is full of criticism and satire. But it is rarely bitter. It is fluent and witty. Swift has regarded the moderns as spiders and the ancients as bees.