The Comic Latin Grammar in Victorian England

  • Jacqueline Arthur Montagne


This paper presents the first scholarly analysis of The Comic Latin Grammar by Percival Leigh, a satirical textbook of Latin grammar published in London in 1840. Sections I and II analyze the role of Latin education and the rapid publication of Latin grammar books during the nineteenth century. Sections III and IV conduct close readings of the Comic Latin Grammar to assess its techniques of parody and allusion. I conclude that the textbook achieves its satire of Latin learning by embedding two tiers of humor in its lessons designed for two types of readers: those with and without a background in Classical education. In this way, Leigh uses parody as a mechanism for constructing and enforcing social boundaries, but also satirizes the use of Latin as a shibboleth for polite society.