I.Biography:Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), a posthumous child, was born in Dublin, Ireland, of an English family, which had important connections but little wealth. Through the generosity of an.
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I.Biography:Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), a posthumous child, was born in Dublin, Ireland, of an English family, which had important connections but little wealth. Through the generosity of an
uncle, he was educated at Kilkenny Grammar School and then Trinity College, Dublin. Between 1689 and 1699 he worked as a private secretary to a distant kinsman Sir William
Temple, a retired diplomat. During those years Swift read widely and had time to put his general ideas in order and discover his talent as a prose satirist. And there he also received a first-rate education in politics through contact with Temple and many other well-known politicians, learning much about the vice, hypocrisy, intrigues, deception and corruption in the politic, world. From 1699 to 1701 he was at different clerical posts in Ireland. In 1704 he published two powerful satires on corruption in
religion and learning, A Tale of a Tub (1704) and The Battle of the Books (written 1679, published 1704), which established his name as a satirist. For several years, he was a most notable figure in London as the editor of the official Tory organ, The Examiner. As a reward for his service to the government, in 1713, he was appointed dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Where he became not only a popular clergyman, but also a leader in the Irish resistance to the English oppression. In 1724, he
published, under the pseudonym of Drapier, a series of letters that called on the whole country to refuse the newly-minted English copper coins which would further debase the coinage of the already poverty-stricken country. The English government offered 300 pounds for information as to the identity of the Drapier, but nobody would be tempted to reveal it, though his authorship of the letters was known to all Dublin. Even today Swift is still respected as a national hero in Ireland. In 1726, he wrote and published
his greatest satiric work, Gulliver's Travels.
II. Point of View: Swift was a man of great moral integrity and social charm. He had many friends in the literary circle and was admired and loved by many of the distinguished men of his time. A man with a bitter life experience, he had a deep hatred for all the rich oppressors and a deepsympathy for all the poor and oppressed.His understanding of human nature is profound. In his opinion, human nature is seriously and permanently flawed. To better human life,
enlightenment is needed, but to redress it is very hard. So, in his writings, although he intends not to condemn but to reform and improve human nature and human institutions, there is often an under- or over-tone of helplessness and indignation.
III. Artistic features: 1.Characteristics of his satire. Swift is a master satirist.His satire is usually masked by an outward gravity and an apparent earnestness which renders his satire all
the more powerful. His "A Modest Proposal" is generally taken as a perfect model. By suggesting that poor Irish parents sell their one-year-old babies to the rich English lords and ladies as food, Swift is making the most devastating protest against the inhuman exploitation and oppression of the Irish people by the English ruling class. The apparent eagerness, sincerity and detachment of the author adds force to the bitter irony and biting sarcasm.
2. Style:Swift is one of the greatest masters of English prose. He is almost unsurpassed in the writing of simple, direct, precise prose.He defined a good style as "proper words in proper places." Clear, simple, concrete diction, uncomplicated sentence structure, economy and conciseness of language mark all his writings -- essays,poems and novels.
IV. What is satire:Satire was another typical feature of this period's writing. It refers to any writing, in poetry or prose, with the purpose to ridicule, censure(criticize unfavorably) and correct the vices, follies, stupidities and corruptions of the society, which threatened to be contrary to the maintenance of good moral order and literary discipline. So, it answered well the purpose of the Enlightenment, which aimed at public education in moral, social as well as cultural life. It also proved to be an
effective weapon for arguments of all kinds and verbal attacks on enemies of both the party's and the personal. The best satires of the age are noted for their wittiness of remark and adeptness expert) of technique. So it became the fashion for all forms of writing at the time. The best and most representative works are found in those written by Pope and Swift, two masters of satire.
Major works A Tale of a Tub ( 1704 )
Battle of the Books ( 1704 )
The Drapier's Letters ( 1724 )
Gulliver's Travels ( 1726 )
A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burthen ( 1729 )