Invective  

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"Invective has been understood in this Anthology to mean any direct verbal attack. Irony and satire are therefore, as far as possible, excluded, though the line of demarcation is sometimes indistinct. Irony is apt to pass into invective, as a writer or orator loses his detachment; the transition being marked among inferior performers by some such phrase as “But this is not a subject for mere jesting”, or “But joking apart”, words which are often the first indication to the readers or the audience that anything mirth-provoking has been set before them. As the detachment of irony makes it a finer weapon, intellectually if not morally, than invective, the transition from irony to invective is even in skilful hands nearly always jarring in its effect. Swift himself does not altogether escape the charge of sinking when he makes this transition. “The Voyage to the Houyhnhnms”, in which the proportion of invective to irony is far greater than in the earlier portions of “Gulliver’s Travels”, is on the whole inferior to the Voyages to Lilliput and Brobdingnag. Occasionally the transition is entirely successful, as in Johnson's letter to Chesterfield, where the direct attack of the bulk of the letter is so restrained in tone as to harmonise perfectly with the irony of the opening paragraph." --introduction to An Anthology Of Invective And Abuse

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Invective is a verse genre in classical Greek and Roman poetry. The most famous invective poet is Catullus. In Renaissance literature it was known as libel poetry. There are similarities to Afro-American dissing.

Antiquity

Libel (poetry)

Renaissance

The Renaissance humanist Poggio Bracciolini is the most famous writer of invectives. In Francesco Filelfo and Lorenzo Valla, Poggio found his match; and Italy was amused for years with the spectacle of their indecent invectives.

Up untill recently, dwelling upon such literary infamies was be below the dignity of the historian. But the fact remains that these habits of the early Italian humanists imposed a fashion upon Europe which extended to the later age of Joseph Scaliger's contentions with Gaspar Scioppius and John Milton's with Claudius Salmasius.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Invective" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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