Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jonathan Swift


Jonathan Swift was born on November 30, 1667 in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Protestant Anglo-Irish parents: his ancestors had been Royalists, and all his life he would be a High-Churchman. His father, also Jonathan, died a few months before he was born, upon which his mother, Abigail, returned to England, leaving her son behind, in the care of relatives.

In 1673, at the age of six, Swift began his education at Kilkenny Grammar School, which was the best in Ireland. Between 1682 and 1686 he attended, and graduated from, Trinity College in Dublin, though he was not, apparently, an exemplary student.

In 1688 William of Orange invaded England, initiating the Glorious Revolution: with Dublin in political turmoil, Trinity College was closed, and Swift took the opportunity to go to England, where he hoped to gain preferment in the Anglican Church. In England, in 1689, he became secretary to Sir William Temple, a diplomat and man of letters. There Swift met Esther Johnson, who would become his "Stella," and it was there, too, that he began to suffer from Meniere's Disease, a disturbance of the inner ear which produces nausea and vertigo. In 1690, at the advice of his doctors, Swift returned to Ireland, but the following year he was back in England. He visited Oxford in 1691, he received an M. A. degree from that University, and published his first poem.

In 1694, still anxious to advance himself within the Church of England, he returned to Ireland to take holy orders. In 1695 he was ordained as a priest in the Church of Ireland, the Irish branch of the Anglican Church, and the following year he returned to England.

Between 1696 and 1699 Swift composed most of his first great work. After Temple died in 1699, Swift moved back to Ireland, working at various posts in the Church. In 1704, two satirical pieces -- Tale of the Tub and Battle of the Books -- earned him some renown (and some enemies). During this period, he returned to England intermittently and he became intimate with the literary men of the day. Although a lifelong supporter of the Whigs, the growing chasm between Whigs and the Church led Swift, in 1708, to launch a series of pamphlet attacks on the Whigs. By 1710, Swift had switched over the Tories completely and put his skills at their disposal. Swift took over The Examiner, a Tory rag, and, with a couple of 1711 pamphlets, helped turn to the tide of English public opinion against the "Whig" War of Spanish Succession.

With the death of Queen Anne in 1714, the Tories fell from favor and Swift returned to Ireland. He would serve as Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin for the rest of his life. In 1720, he got busy again, writting a large sum of essays and critics of the current situation in both Englend and Ireland.

After the death of his beloved Stella, Swift began to drop off and gradually grew mentally unstable in the years before his death in 1745. Having served his role as an Irish patriot and Tory critic of Whig policies, Swift dead on Octover 19,1745.

Jonathan Swift was a satirical Irish writer. He wrote prose works, essays, tracts, political pamphlets, periodicals, poems, sermons and prayers. His principal work is Gulliver's trips, which constitues one of the most bitter critiques that they have written to themselves against the society and the human condition.

It is Swift's best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature. It has been considered to be often an infantile work, actually it is a fierce satire of the society and the human condition camouflaged as a book of trips for picturesque countries (a common genre in the epoch).

The protagonist, the captain Lemuel Gulliver, is in paradoxical situations: he is a giant between dwarfs, a dwarf between giants and a human being ashamed about his condition in a land populated by wise horses that are more human than the own men and distrust, deservedly, these.

The work he is considered to be the classic one of the universal literature and has inspired numerous adjustments and versions. The book became tremendously popular as soon as it was published, and nowadays is also required reading for many high school students, including high school Literature Advanced Placement students (US). The original title is Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World and divides in four parts. Possibly one of the reasons for the book´s classic status is that it can be seen as many things to many different people. Broadly, the book has three themes:- A satirical view of the state of European governement, and of petty differences between religions.- An inquiry into whether men are corrupt or they become corruped.- A restatement of the older “ancients versus moderns” controversy previously addressed by Swift in The Battle of the Books.

And finally, other important works are A Modest Proposal,A Journal to Stella, Drapier´s Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English languaje, and is less well known for his poetry.Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms—such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier—or anonymously.

He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.

Carmen Álvarez and Sara Lozano

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