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John Swift

  • Date Submitted: 09/08/2011 01:33 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 60.7 
  • Words: 441
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JONATHAN SWIFT, Dean of St Patrick's, Dublin, British satirist, was born at No. 7 Hoey's Court, Dublin, on the 30th of November 1667, a few months after the death of his father, Jonathan Swift (1640-1667), who married about 1664 Abigaile Erick, of an old Leicestershire family. He was taken over to England as an infant and nursed at Whitehaven, whence he returned to Ireland in his fourth year. His grandfather, Thomas Swift, vicar of Goodrich near Ross, appears to have been a doughty member of the church militant, who lost his possessions by taking the losing side in the Civil War and died in 1658 before the restoration could bring him redress. He married Elizabeth, niece of Sir Erasmus Dryden, the poet's grandfather. Hence the familiarity of the poet's well-known "cooling-card" to the budding genius of his kinsman Jonathan: "Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet."
Jonathan Swift is the world’s most misunderstood children’s writer. Though his classic book Gulliver’s Travels is often referred to as youth reading, it is in fact an audacious satire on the society in which Swift lived. Swift complemented his satirical work with essays and pamphlets on government and society; his commentary often put him at odds with political parties as well as the monarchy. Swift’s battles were also artistic as evidenced by “An Essay Upon Ancient and Modern Learning,” which ardently defended classical writing and set off a debate that spanned numerous volumes written by several authors. In A Modest Proposal, Swift mockingly proposed that the rich make meals out of poor people’s babies. It was this kind of dark whimsy, in which harsh criticism was wrapped in effervescent ridiculousness, that ultimately defined the work of Jonathan Swift.

  1. Due to the sharply political nature of his writing, many of Swift’s most famous works were published anonymously or under pseudonyms.
  2. Throughout his life, Swift suffered periods of illness. Based on descriptions of his symptoms, it has...


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