Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A Tale of a Tub and Other Works (Oxford World's Classics) 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Valley (The Valley Trilogy)
50% off the new debut from the bestselling author of War Brides Learn More
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
It defies description. The kernel of it is a satire on religious controversies, but that makes up about a third of the actual text. The rest is a series of prologues, forewords, dedications, prefaces, afterwords, epilogues and appendices, the sheer profusion of which suggest very much that Swift is poking dire fun at the idea of writing itself. In that respect, it goes further than any 20th century French golden boy of artistic revolt; Artaud looks like a stamped-in-tin romantic poet when set against Swift's manic nihilism. A Tale of a Tub is the closest anyone has ever got to writing a book that tackles head-on the futility of writing books, but that's only one interpretation of it. It exhausts interpretation by being as near as possible about nothing at all - and hence about everything. Plus it's not even 200 pages long. Swift never wrote as irresponsibly ever again, although the Travels, 'A Modest Proposal', the Bickerstaffe Papers, the 'Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift' and the Drapier's Letters are all admirable enough. A Tale of a Tub is as comprehensive a piece of literary terrorism as was ever attempted.
The other works in the volume are a nicely eclectic selection. The W. W. Norton Selected Works of Swift is better at giving the author's range, but Ross picks well and gives a nice representation here. The effect is to not only fully situate the Tale (even giving space to the silly Thomas Swift), but to give a snapshot of early Swift.
For anyone teaching, or teaching him or herself, this greatest of Swift's prose satires, this is far and away the best, affordable edition.
The second piece, "The Battle of the Books," is the highlight. It features a battle between Ancient and Modern books in the King's Library where the various volumes act out the parts of heroes in the Iliad.
The final sketch, "The Mechanical Operation of the Spirit," largely ridicules Puritan religious practices, but takes an occasional jab at Swift's favorite target: critics.
For the most part, A Tale of a Tub and Other Works, brilliant though it may be, is a period curiosity because so many of the people and issues it addresses have slipped into obscurity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A renowned critic suggested it may be,(after Shakespeare) the best prose in the language. That got my attention. It is indeed brilliant and scathing. It is also timeless. Read morePublished 6 months ago by bruce
Given the state of the world's politics and the unfavorable impact they have on the common man in so many countries, I frequently speculate about what Swift might have to say... Read morePublished 15 months ago by houselm