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Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin in 1667. He was educated in Ireland but left the country and went to England, where his parents were from, in 1688, at the time of the Revolution. In England he started to work for the Whig exponent Sir William Temple who encouraged Swift to start writing satirical works. In “The Battle of the Books” he supported Temple’s defense of the classics mocking the attitude of modern criticism and poetry. When Swift returned to Ireland in 1694 he became an Anglican priest and at the beginning of the 18th century he became friends with the Pope and other important writers. In 1713 he was nominated Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and there he stayed for thirty years. While before 1713 he produced a lot of writings for the Tory administration, later he began to write pamphlets in which he condemned the injustices that had befallen Ireland (for instance “A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture” and “The Drapier’s Letters”, the former pressing for a boycott of English imports and the latter attacking the proposal of a new coinage that he believed would lead to more poverty in Ireland).
Following his works Swift began to be viewed as a national hero. In 1726 he wrote his masterpiece known as the “Gulliver’s Travels” and in 1729 in an ironic piece of work he suggested that the poor people should earn a living from selling their children as food for the rich. Swift’s irony was aiming both at the English rule in Ireland and at the Irish themselves who were passively accepting it.
His views and works made him one of the most controversial writers of the time. Overall, he was a conservative who was very concerned with politics and society. But he didn’t have an optimistic view and he wasn’t pride of England as his contemporaries were. He was a hater of man and he believed that reason, with which men were gifted, was a tool that had to be used in the right way. In the satire he found the best way to express himself and by combining his irony with a simple style and language he achieved to produce the parody.
After a few years of physical and mental decay, Swift died in 1745.
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