Eric Fuller on Addison and Steele

Published by admin_main on Mon 06 Dec, 2010

"Wit: True, False, Mixed" (Addison)

5. How does Addison define the three kinds of wit? Why is judgment, as opposed to wit, "contrary to metaphor and allusion"?

1.Wit(true wit) in general is congruity of ideas as John Locke has defined but it contains an important condition to classify wit is the ability to give delight to and surprise the reader.

2.False wit chiefly consists in the resemblance and congruity of words. ex in single letters, in syllables, and in puns.

3.Mixed wit is a mixture of both in resemblance of ideas and resemblance of words. Judgment is contrary to metaphor and allusion because it separates ideas that contain the least amount of difference to avoid being misled by similitude. Metaphor and illusion do the opposite by drawing similarities between distinct things. 6. What characterizes "mixed wit"? Who are the "Goths in poetry," and what reproach does Addison make against them? In what sense is his argument "neoclassical," as you understand that term?

Mixed wit is a resemblance of both words and ideas.

Addison considers most English poets and readers as Goths. He says that they cannot come up with the beautiful simplicity of the Greeks and Romans so in the place of it they adorn weak ideas so they will seem to contain wit. Like George Herbert's weak poetry disguised in shapes to give the illusion of wit. His argument is neoclassical because he is stressing a revival of the ancient Greek and Roman masters as a base for whatever will become English poetry.


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