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SWIFT’S MAIN WORKS: THE SATIRIST

SWIFT’S MAIN WORKS: THE SATIRIST The Battle of the Books (1697): Swift imagines a battle between the books written by the ancients (led by Homer and Virgil) and those written by the moderns. He awards victory to the ancients.

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SWIFT’S MAIN WORKS: THE SATIRIST

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  1. SWIFT’S MAIN WORKS: THE SATIRIST The Battle of the Books (1697): Swift imagines a battle between the books written by the ancients (led by Homer and Virgil) and those written by the moderns. He awards victory to the ancients. A Tale of a Tub (1704): satirical work on corruption in religion and learning, directed especially against the Roman Church. It was intended by Swift as a defence of the Anglican Church. The Drapier’s Letters (1724): pamphlet (made up of letters) attacking English government for its policy to supply Ireland with copper halfpence and farthings (old British coins). A Modest Proposal (1729): pamphlet which paradoxically suggests the use of Irish children as food for the rich. Gulliver’s Travels (1726): Swift’s masterpiece (a novel in four books). It’s a prose satire on civilized societies and a political allegory of Swift’s time. It can be considered a masterpiece of misanthropy because it represents a reflection on the aberrations of human reason. Swift’s best pamphlets are those concerned with the social and political situation of Ireland.

  2. GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (TravelsintoSeveral Remote Nationsof the World, in FourParts. ByLemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a CaptainofSeveralShips)

  3. GULLIVER’S TRAVELS: a travel account and a great satire Gulliver’sTravelsis a novel in fourbooks in whichSwiftmixesutopian fiction and travelwriting. The narrator and maincharacteris Dr LEMUEL GULLIVER, an ordinary man (a middle-aged and practical-mindedEnglishmanwhois a ship’s surgeon), whomakes a series of voyagesallaround the world. The novelwas first publishedanonymously in 1726 in London (the secondeditioncame out in 1727, while the thirdone in 1735). Itisboth a fascinatingtravel book and a satire on man and contemporaryinstitutions.

  4. GULLIVER’S TRAVELS: a travel account and a great satire The placesvisitedbyLemuel are imaginary, buttheyseemtoberealthankstocarefuldescriptions. Swiftmixes the fantasticwith the real in the sensethathisimaginarylands and peoples are set in known and realoceans, countries or continents (the South Pacific, Alaska, India, Japan). Healsogives the readerdetailed information (withscientificprecision!) about the namesof the ships Gulliver sails on, theircaptains’ names, the degreesoflongitude and latitudetheysailinto (as Daniel Defoe did in his “Robinson Crusoe”).

  5. GULLIVER’S TRAVELS: a travel account and a great satire Actually, thisnovelis a parodyofvoyageliterature and Swiftonlyuses the formof a travel account tocriticizecivilized society (18th-century English and French society in particular) and to show humanimperfections and faults→ UTOPIAN FICTION. So, Swift’s masterpiece can bedefinedasamoral satire and a politicalallegory: the adventuresof the hero (Lemuel Gulliver) bring the author and the readerintocontactwithpeopleswho are either more civilized or reflectourworsthabits and defects.

  6. Utopia vs reality Gulliver, whotells the story in the first person, sailsfrom Bristol. • In the first book the tinyLilliputians(in the South Pacific) represent the meanness and pettinessofourown world (they are cruel) ; • in the second book the giganticsizeof the people ofBrobdingnag(Alaska) allows Gulliver toseeall the physicalimperfectionsof man; on the otherhand, they are wise and good;

  7. Utopia vs reality 3.the voyagetoLaputa (Japan) in the third book isa satire ofcontemporary England and ofmodernphilosophies and science, and theirconfidence in claimingtobeableto solve allofmankind’s problems; 4. in the last voyage, in the fourth book, Gulliver meets the Yahoos (who are aswickedashis society), butheisalsoconfrontedwiththe superior intelligence of the wisehorses(the “Houyhnhnms”) and hewouldliketo stay withthemforever (butthey can’t stand hispresence). When the story ends, Gulliver , a confused man, hasto come back home. So heleavesfor England.

  8. Swift’s pessimism Swiftisdisgustedby the world helives in and hewantstodenouncehumanity’s decay (hethinksEuropeisfallinginto a state ofcorruption): so in Gulliver’s retreatfrom the world Swiftmayhaveintendedto show a person’s alienation.

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