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A Tale of a Tub and Other Works (Oxford World's Classics) 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199549788
ISBN-10: 0199549788
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Some of the most important publishing events take place quietly ... one of the landmark publications for me was the appearance of ... A Tale of a Tub and Other Works ... It's heartening to know, not just that one of our greatest writers is finally being given the editorial treatment he deserves, but that such a quixotically ambitious publishing series can still be contemplated in the digital age.' Jonathan Coe, The Guardian --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

This 2010 edition provides the first full scholarly treatment of this important work for fifty years. The detailed introduction and explanatory notes address many previously unexplained issues. Texts have been fully collated and edited according to modern principles and are accompanied with a textual introduction and full textual apparatus. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199549788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199549788
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.5 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A Tale of a Tub is certainly Swift's least classifiable work. He's best known, of course, for Gulliver's Travels. This work was mostly written at the very start of his career, when he hadn't yet totally hardened into his later misanthropy, and it has all the demented exuberance of a great writer in his mid-20s finding a voice.
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.
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By A Customer on March 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
Swift, the greatest English satirist, is of course best known for Gulliver's Travels, but the Tale of a Tub is more complex, more vicious, and funnier. In some of the best prose of the 18th century, he ridicules all sorts of conventions, religious, literary, rhetorical, and otherwise. He makes full use of the capacity that prose has for being deliriously irrelevant and digressive. It is similar in some ways to Tristram Shandy and the novels of postmodernism. It'll give you fits.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Angus Ross is one of the top people in Augustan prose studies, and his annotations for this edition are well done. For college students and those with college educations who are reading A Tale of a Tub and its associated works, the introduction and appended works are sufficient to give an overview. The Tale is an "impossible" work, and giving any student a complete review is impossible, as it is a work that opens every category of question, every matter of philosophy, religion, history, and rhetoric, and Ross splits the difference admirably. This annotations sometimes explain the self-evident, but he rarely misses a vital spot that needs explanation. On the other hand, the annotations are all in end note format, and so students and readers who are unfamiliar with Augustan history and the literary context of the work have to continually flip back and forth to "get the jokes." Simply moving to real footnotes would make an enormous difference for readers (e.g. the 1920 and 1958 Oxford UP standard editions edited by Guthkelch and Smith).

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Until a better edition is available, this literally scanned copy of an old library book (with a random reader's occasional words copied in the margins--no joke) will have to do. The Tale of the Tub: breath-takingly powerful writing, hilarious and yet will set any reader down a few pegs by satirizing some of our most common points of pride. Harold Bloom reads it once a year, apparently. I probably will too.
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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. He compares Catholicism, Anglicanism and Calvinism. He calls his characters Peter {for St. Peter representing Catholicism}, Martin (for Martin Luther...representing Anglicanism) and Jack (for John Calvin representing Calvinism). As Swift was an Anglican clergyman, his sentiments obviously resided there. His over all message is an attack on dogmatism. Modern day fanatics could benefit by reading this piece.
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