The 19th-century, particularly the Victorian period, is a great age of English parody; indeed, the rapid intellectual, economic and social changes which pervaded England during this age also triggered off an ever-increasingly outspoken debate on such novelties; serious essays and critical treatises thrived alongside hilarious lampoons and libellous caricatures of various aspects of social customs, political events and religious matters. The combined sparkle and finish of the Victorian parodists found voice, among others, in the spontaneous, amusing Calverley, Carroll, Hilton, Traill, and Kenneth Stephen, who were encouraged by the favourable circumstances of the time. It is against this background that I have analysed Percival Leigh's "The comic English grammar", published in 1840 as a parody of Lindley Murray's "An English Grammar". The comic grammar was the only text written by Leigh (1813-1889) on the English language; yet this doctor turned comic writer published other works, the best-known of which is "Ye Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe", a witty, sarcastic chronicle of the trends and opinions common at his time. His socially-attentive eye and his interest in linguistic matters found a suitable target in Murray's work, which, especially in the early 19th century, was regarded as the supreme authority in language. Leigh's is one of the four known parodies of Murray's grammar and has been aptly considered the best and most complete of the four, since, as the present paper attempts to highlight, it successfully juxtaposes serious language indications, faithfully derived from Murray's text, to insightful incursions in the socio-historical plateau of mid-19th-century England. Leigh's chromoscope does not simply reflect Murray's light, but refracts and distorts it through parodical quotation; in so doing, the author brings to life a fully-fledged text, which does not merely copy the original, but rather perceptively inscribes and reshapes it.

Social commitment in Percival Leigh's "The Comic English Grammar" (1840)

FACCHINETTI, Roberta
2004-01-01

Abstract

The 19th-century, particularly the Victorian period, is a great age of English parody; indeed, the rapid intellectual, economic and social changes which pervaded England during this age also triggered off an ever-increasingly outspoken debate on such novelties; serious essays and critical treatises thrived alongside hilarious lampoons and libellous caricatures of various aspects of social customs, political events and religious matters. The combined sparkle and finish of the Victorian parodists found voice, among others, in the spontaneous, amusing Calverley, Carroll, Hilton, Traill, and Kenneth Stephen, who were encouraged by the favourable circumstances of the time. It is against this background that I have analysed Percival Leigh's "The comic English grammar", published in 1840 as a parody of Lindley Murray's "An English Grammar". The comic grammar was the only text written by Leigh (1813-1889) on the English language; yet this doctor turned comic writer published other works, the best-known of which is "Ye Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe", a witty, sarcastic chronicle of the trends and opinions common at his time. His socially-attentive eye and his interest in linguistic matters found a suitable target in Murray's work, which, especially in the early 19th century, was regarded as the supreme authority in language. Leigh's is one of the four known parodies of Murray's grammar and has been aptly considered the best and most complete of the four, since, as the present paper attempts to highlight, it successfully juxtaposes serious language indications, faithfully derived from Murray's text, to insightful incursions in the socio-historical plateau of mid-19th-century England. Leigh's chromoscope does not simply reflect Murray's light, but refracts and distorts it through parodical quotation; in so doing, the author brings to life a fully-fledged text, which does not merely copy the original, but rather perceptively inscribes and reshapes it.
9788876948084
Percival Leigh; 19th-century English; Grammarians; Parody
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/310536
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