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Anglo-Irish poet, satirist and clergyman, Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), was born in Dublin to English parents. He published many satirical works of verse and prose, including 'A Tale of a Tub', 'A Modest Proposal', and 'Gulliver's Travels'. Robert DeMaria, Jr. is Henry Noble MacCracken Professor of English at Vassar College, New York. He has published widely on 17th and 18th century literature.Review:
Prose satire by Jonathan Swift, written between 1696 and 1699, published anonymously in 1704, and expanded in 1710. Regarded as his first major work, it comprises three related sketches: the "Tale" itself, an energetic defense of literature and religion against zealous pedantry; "The Battle of the Books," a witty addition to the scholarly debate about the relative merits of ancient versus modern literature and culture; and "A Discourse Concerning the Mechanical Operation of the Spirit," a satire of religious fanaticism. In the preface Swift explains the title: sailors toss a tub overboard to distract a whale that might attack their ship; in the same way Swift's work may act as a decoy to deflect destructive criticism from the state and established religion. The 11-part "A Tale of a Tub" is the most impressive of the three compositions for its wit and command of stylistic effects, notably parody. The sections of the "Tale" alternate between the main allegory about Christian history and ironic digressions on modern scholarship. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
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