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Swift, Jonathan (2)

Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin in 1667, and he graduated from Trinity college. In 1688 he traveled to England, here he was appointed secretary to Sir William Temple; then he returned to Ireland where he was ordained an Anglican priest, but he soon returned to work with Temple. When he died he had difficulty to find work, so he returned to Ireland; in 1704 he wrote the famous Tale of a Tub, a powerful pamphlet satirizing the Church and modern learning. Then Queen Anne appointed him Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. In Ireland he wasn’t indifferent to the suffering of Irish and was indignant at England’s exploitation of the country. But he was a very strange person, he became a sort of spy for government, so he had different identities. He was misogyn, he hated women and children. he wanted to criticize through satires the England government, for example Lilliputians represented England people. He supported the Irish question with his works, in which he had a strong satire of the behaviours of English towards Irish people, he had an outside eye of English society. In 1726 he wrote Gulliver’s Travels, published anonymously. His grim humour marks his famous Modest Proposal, another attack against the British for their injustice to the Irish. He died in 1745 and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Swift was one of the founders of professional journalism and one of the most brilliant minds of his time. Often frustrated, he seemed to hide his virtues and was unable to win sympathy from people. His major work is what can be considered a negative utopia; an utopia, from Thomas More, is a perfect place. Instead from Swift we have a dystopia, that’s a negative utopia, used for Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s New Brave World. His Gulliver’s Travel is considered a dystopic novel, that’s a novel which represents a fantastic world, similar to an utopic words but emphasizing the negative aspects, so Swift is considered to be a forerunner. So the book can be read as an imaginary travel story, or maybe as a fantasy for the fantastic elements it contains. But in reality it is a bitter satire of his own country, from the book he reveals a deep disgust of mankind.

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