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About the book
  • Published: 6 November 2009
  • ISBN: 9780140436426
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $19.99

A Modest Proposal And Other Writings


Formats & editions


In her introduction to this new edition, Carole Fabricant discusses Swift's life and turbulent times, his political views and his powers as a writer of complex irony and intricate word play. 

The Penguin Classics edition of Jonathan Swift's savagely satirical A Modest Proposal and Other Writings is edited with an introduction and notes by Carol Fabricant.
To ease poverty in Ireland by eating the children of the poor was the satirical 'solution' suggested by Jonathan Swift in his essay 'A Modest Proposal' (1729). Here Swift unleashes the full power of his ironic armoury and corrosive wit, finding his targets - the British ruling class and avaricious landlords, and the brutalized Irish, complicit in their own oppression - with deadly precision. His masterly essay is accompanied by a generous selection of prose works, among them pamphlets attacking British rule in his native Ireland, periodical essays critiquing the new capitalist and military classes, a journal detailing his political activities in London, a loving tribute to his beloved 'Stella' after her death and pieces on such diverse subjects as the absurdities of astrology, the joys of punning and comical rules for servants. Ingenious and unconventional, Swift is revealed here as one of the greatest satirists in the English language.
In her introduction to this new edition, Carol Fabricant discusses Swift's life and turbulent times, his political views and his powers as a writer of complex irony and intricate word play. This volume also includes a chronology, further reading, a glossary, notes and a biographical dictionary.
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was born in Dublin. Sent to Kilkenny Grammar School when he was six, Swift later attended Trinity College, Dublin, where he received his BA degree in 1686. He is considered the foremost prose satirist in the English language, which stemmed from his criticism of Britain's repressive colonial policies in Ireland. Among Swift's best known works are his ironic masterpiece, 'A Modest Proposal' (1729), and his novel, Gulliver's Travels (1726).
If you enjoyed A Modest Proposal, you might like Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock and Other Major Writings, also available in Penguin Classics.

  • Pub date: 6 November 2009
  • ISBN: 9780140436426
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift was born on 30th November 1667 in Dublin, and educated at Trinity College in that city and Oxford University. He was a cousin of John Dryden. Swift's father was a lawyer who had gone to Ireland after the Restoration, but he died before his son's birth. After becoming secretary to Sir William Temple in England, Swift returned to Dublin where he was ordained. In 1713 he became dean of St Patrick's.Swift gave one third of his income to charities and used his own money to fund St Patrick's Hospital for Imbeciles. He was himself thought by many to be insane in his later years.

Although nominally a Whig, Swift became editor of the Tory journal the Examiner His first major work, A Tale of a Tub, was published 1704 and through the development of his writing career he became close friends with the poet Alexander Pope. Together with other writers, they founded a literary group called the Martinus Scriblerus Club in 1713. His political satires form a large amount of his life's work and include the famous essay, A Modest Proposal (1729), where he suggests that the solution to the starvation of the poor in Ireland is that they should eat their own children. Gulliver's Travels (1729) is the only book for which he received any money (£200) and he never wrote under his own name. It is unclear whether Swift ever formally married, but he was very close to Esther Johnson, known as Stella, whom he had met through Temple. He died in 1745 and was buried beside her in St Patrick's.

His Latin epitaph, written by himself, reads: 'Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift, D.D., dean of this cathedral, where burning indignation can no longer lacerate his heart.Go, traveller, and imitate if you can a man who was an undaunted champion of liberty.

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