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The ClosetThe Eighteenth-Century Architecture of Intimacy$
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Danielle Bobker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691198231

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691198231.001.0001

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Lady Acheson’s Privy for Two

Lady Acheson’s Privy for Two

(p.79) 3 Lady Acheson’s Privy for Two
The Closet

Danielle Bobker

Princeton University Press

This chapter offers a new view of Jonathan Swift's “excremental vision” by approaching it not as a personal quirk or neurotic symptom but as a perceptive critique of the excretory autonomy that flushable water closets would soon come to embody. It talks about the country-house poets that had traditionally celebrated abundant fields and communal feasts in the great hall as signs of Swift's generosity. It confirms that in Swift's mock country-house poem “Panegyric on the Dean,” he imagined the pair of his-and-hers privies built on Lord and Lady Acheson's country estate. The chapter also analyzes why the poem is at odds with the natural cycles of regeneration and feudal hospitality that it sent the mind away from the earth, the cosmos, and other people in a burlesque of closet prayer. It mentions that Swift tried to preempt Lady Acheson's desire to circulate the poem by casting her as the speaker in his first scatological poem.

Keywords:   Jonathan Swift, excremental vision, excretory autonomy, country-house poets, Panegyric on the Dean, Lady Acheson, closet prayer, water closets, privies

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