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Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

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Jonathan Swift (1667-l745)

Swift was born in Dublin of English parents. He was educated at Lilkenny Grammar School and Trinity college. In 1689 he left Dublin and went to England, where, at Moor Park, he was admitted to the household of Sir William Temple, a Whig statesman. In 1694, after being ordained as an anglican clergyman, he returned to Irland, where he was given the prebend of  Kilroot.In 1696 he returned to Sir William Temple's, where he stayed until his patron died in 1699.

After Temple's death, Swift retuned to Irland, where he was given the vicarage of laracon and a prebend in St Patrck's Cathedral, in Dublin. He often visit London and sometimes he met the Pope, Arbuthnot and Gay, with whom he made friend. He was involed in the struggle between the Whigs and the Tories. He first sided with the whigs but, in 1710, disappointed in his hopes for a career with their help, he went over to the Tories because they supports his efforts. In the same year he began writing for "The Examiner", in which he attacked the reputations of the Whigs ministes. Unfortunately, his Tories friends fell into disgrace and his hopes for advancement were once more frustrated, he only received the Deanery of St patrick's. In 1708 Esther Vanhomrigh had entered in his life and she loved him passionately. After an infection in his left ear, in 1742 Swift was paralysed by a stroke untill 1745 when he died utterly insane.

He was a disturbed person but he was also capable of profound and harmonious feelings. In fact he defended the Irish poor in many of his works, He also devoted a part of his money  to charity and he found the St Patrick's hospital for imbeciles.


The battle of the books: Swift defended the ancients and he took the opprtunity to mock his modern rivals.

A tale of a tub: It's a prose satire that describes allegorically the failings of 3 brothers who rappresent the Catholics ( Peter), the the Protestant ( Martin) and the dissenters (Jack)

A proposal for the universal use of irish manufacture: an invitation to the irish to boycott english goods.

The drapiers letters

: four letters written by Drapier arguing the damage done to the irish by the circulation of new copper coins.

A modest proposal for preventing the children of poor people from being a burden to their parents or the country and for making them beneficial to the publick: agains british injustuces ane the irish people's insufficient policy.

Cadernus and Vanessa the love of Cadernus (Swift) for Vanessa (Esther V.)

The lady dressing room: on the women's myth and body theme.

Journal to Stella: letters to Esther J.

Directions to servants: a satire containg false directions on how to be a bad servant.

Gulliver's travell


1) Swift was a close friend of the Pope. He tried to make a career wrinting pamphlets on the polical issues of the day, under the aegis of one of the great political parties. He was a pamphleteer of genius, the greatest in fact of the english pamphlet-writers.

2) Swift differs from the other tory satirist by the transgressivenature of his satire. His writings are ferociously subversive; his satire is migled with sarcasm, scurrility and above of all a crushing irony which is often extremely destructive.

3) Swift's typical tactic is to disguise his satire from the reader behind a fable or fiction of some kind. Having disarmed the reader he then unleashes his full destructive power on him.

4) One fo Swift's favourite techniques is to mention the unmentionable, and his writing is thus frequently shoking to the rider. This appears to be done deliberately in order to offend the reader.

5) Swift style is a model of clarity and precision. He is able to make all his fables seem vividly real to the reader. His prose has a great energy.


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