A Tale of a Tub

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Brian Westland, 1804 - 130 pages

A Tale of a Tub was the first major work written by Jonathan Swift, arguably his most difficult satire and perhaps his most masterly. The Tale is a prose parody divided into sections each delving into the morals and ethics of the English. Composed between 1694 and 1697, it was eventually published in 1704. It was long regarded as a satire on religion.

The "tale" presents a consistent satire of religious excess, while the digressions are a series of parodies of contemporary writing in literature, politics, theology, Biblical exegesis, and medicine. The overarching parody is of enthusiasm, pride, and credulity. At the time it was written, politics and religion were still closely linked in England, and the religious and political aspects of the satire can often hardly be separated. "The work made Swift notorious, and was widely misunderstood, especially by Queen Anne herself who mistook its purpose for profanity." It "effectively disbarred its author from proper preferment within the church", but is considered one of Swift's best allegories, even by himself. It was enormously popular, but Swift believed it damaged his prospect of advancement in the Church of England.

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About the author (1804)

Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 - 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish[1] satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Tories), poet and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.[2] Swift is remembered for works such as A Tale of a Tub (1704), An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity (1712), Gulliver's Travels(1726), and A Modest Proposal (1729). He is regarded by the Encyclopædia Britannica as the foremost prose satirist in the English language, [1] and is less well known for his poetry. He originally published all of his works under pseudonyms - such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M. B. Drapier - or anonymously. He was a master of two styles of satire, the Horatian and Juvenalian styles. His deadpan, ironic writing style, particularly in A Modest Proposal, has led to such satire being subsequently termed Swiftian Jonathan Swift was born on 30 November 1667 in Dublin, Ireland. He was the second child and only son of Jonathan Swift (1640-1667) and his wife Abigail Erick (or Herrick) of Frisby on the Wreake.[4] His father was a native of Goodrich, Herefordshire, but he accompanied his brothers to Ireland to seek their fortunes in law after their Royalist father's estate was brought to ruin during the English Civil War. His maternal grandfather, James Ericke, was the vicar of Thornton in Leicestershire. In 1634 the vicar was convicted of Puritan practices. Some time thereafter, Ericke and his family, including his young daughter Abilgail, fled to Ireland. Swift's father joined his older brother, Godwin, in the practice of law in Ireland.[6] He died in Dublin about seven months before his namesake was born.[7][8] He died of syphilis, which he said he got from dirty sheets when out of town.[9] At the age of one, child Jonathan was taken by his wet nurse to her hometown of Whitehaven, Cumberland, England. He said that there he learned to read the Bible. His nurse returned him to his mother, still in Ireland, when he was three.[10] His mother returned to England after his birth, leaving him in the care of his Uncle Godwin, a close friend and confidant of Sir John Temple whose son later employed Swift as his secretary Swift's family had several interesting literary connections. His grandmother Elizabeth (Dryden) Swift was the niece of Sir Erasmus Dryden, grandfather of poet John Dryden. The same grandmother's aunt Katherine (Throckmorton) Dryden was a first cousin of Elizabeth, wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. His great-great grandmother Margaret (Godwin) Swift was the sister of Francis Godwin, author of The Man in the Moonewhich influenced parts of Swift's Gulliver's Travels. His uncle Thomas Swift married a daughter of poet and playwright Sir William Davenant, a godson of William Shakespeare.

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