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A Modest Proposal and Other Satires (Literary Classics) Paperback – June 1, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Born in 1667, Jonathan Swift was an Irish writer and cleric, best known for his works Gulliver s Travels, A Modest Proposal, and A Journal to Stella, amongst many others. Educated at Trinity College in Dublin, Swift received his Doctor of Divinity in February 1702, and eventually became Dean of St. Patrick s Cathedral in Dublin. Publishing under the names of Lemeul Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, and M. B. Drapier, Swift was a prolific writer who, in addition to his prose works, composed poetry, essays, and political pamphlets for both the Whigs and the Tories, and is considered to be one of the foremost English-language satirists, mastering both the Horatian and Juvenalian styles. Swift died in 1745, leaving the bulk of his fortune to found St. Patrick s Hospital for Imbeciles, a hospital for the mentally ill, which continues to operate as a psychiatric hospital today.

George Levine is Kenneth Burke Professor of Literature and Director of the Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture, Rutgers University. He has written on science and the history of science as well as on literature.
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Product Details

  • Series: Literary Classics
  • Paperback: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Reprint edition (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879759194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879759193
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,367,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Picture this. The next presidential candidate for the United States presidency asks welfare citizens to eat their children so they can escape poverty. Not only would the opponent win a landslide victory, the candidate would probably be hounded and hunted by the rich and poor alike. Now, imagine the engaging British author Johnathan Swfit penning the peice entitled
" A Modest Proposal," where he asks parents in Ireland to eat their children for they are high in nutrition and by eating them, the parents will help hinder the threat of overpopulation. It appears to be gruesome and make a mockery of the Irish people, until we dig depper into the satirical peice to see that Swift was trying to convey the starvation and oppresion of the Irish people by writing the peice in an English publication as well as a time when you were either for England or for Ireland, but never both. Swift's humorous outlook is really an expression of disgust to the circumstances that surrounded the Irish under a harsh tolatarian English rule. He succesfully engages the reader through humor as well as a fascinating argument where he encourages the reader to agree with his argument.

I enjoyed " A Modest Proposal" because it had elements that other satries on the same subject lacked, humor. Swift is succesful at what he does because he does not tell the readers outright the conditions of the Irish people, but he weaves it skillfully into the essay, creating a fascinating, funny, and sharp essay.
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Format: Paperback
Famous now only for "Gulliver's Travels," Swift proves more cogently in his other satires that he is the English master of irony. For example, there is nothing remotely modest about what he proposes in "A Modest Proposal," which is that Irish people who are starving because of English economic policies should remedy their situation by eating their own children, boasting the added benefit of reducing the number of "papists." Like an eighteenth-century George Carlin, Swift is funny just for the blatant outrageousness of his words, but there is also a truthful undercurrent in much of what he says.

Swift, hereditarily an Englishman born in Dublin who became an Anglican minister and who was eventually sent back to Dublin--"exiled" as he called it--for the remainder of his life, made himself a mouthpiece for the Irish people and a gadfly to any authorities who he felt overstepped their bounds. In his "Drapier" letters, he warns the Irish not to take any wooden nickels; that is, to reject the base-metal currency being foisted upon them by the English in order to scuttle their economy. In his poem on "The Legion Club" he hurls hilarious verbal salvos at members of the Irish Parliament who are selling out to the English, caricaturing them as monsters and demons.

"A Tale of a Tub" goes everywhere, but the main narrative thread is an allegory of the Reformation. Three brothers, Peter, Martin, and Jack, inherit a fortune from their father and proceed to conquer the world, but entrapment by the vices (personified as women) incites them to squabble and results in a schism in which Martin (Luther) and Jack (John Calvin) leave Peter (the Roman church) for their own haunts.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is very interesting and you will not be able to put it down. It is a satire, but may take some time to see the humor in it after you start to read it. This book was written about 200 years ago in Ireland and is a view by the author on what should be done about homelessness. Swift's views are shocking and gruesome, yet gripping. The premise of his view appears to be very cruel, yet after thinking about what he says, you realize it is a mockery and is meant to be humorous, while still proving a point. His point is important and opens your eyes to the world and homelessness. I recommend this book to anyone interested in satirical works as it is probably the best one that I have ever read.
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