There has long been a need for an accessible, comprehensive--and affordable--single-volume life of Swift. This thoughtful, judicious biography promises to fill that need for our generation.
Few author's reputations have fluctuated as wildly as Jonathan Swift's. From the beginning, critics and biographers divided into two camps--one hailing a champion of liberty, the other reviling a sadistic misanthrope. For years, moreover, an understanding of Swift's life was clouded by legends of his madness and mysteries surrounding his romantic attachments. Modern scholarship had swept all of this away, however, giving us a much sounder factual basis for comprehending the man's life and work.
David Nokes portrays the author of Gulliver's Travels in his multifarious roles as satirist, politician, churchman, and friend. Combining the latest findings of Swiftian scholarship with an astute critical eye, he restores a proper balance between the specialist critics who have overemphasized specific themes or genres in Swift's work and the generalist critics who have missed many of the particularities of Swift's ironies. In so doing, Nokes gives us a biography very much in the spirit Swift himself endorsed: "a conservative humanism which saw specialisation as a first dangerous step towards that distorted simplification of complex human phenomena which characterized the views of all factions and fanatics."
About the Author:
David Nokes is Lecturer in English at King's College, the University of London.
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This biography is a new scholarly ex amination of Swift and his perilous times. It cannot substitute for Irvin Eh renpreis's massive Swift, The Man, His Works and The Age (1962-83; see LJ 3/ 1/84), but it will be very useful to read ers seeking a more succinct look at a complex and often contradictory his torical figure. Nokes offers fresh in sights into the Dean's public and pri vate lives, maintaining a balanced view of even the most controversial ques tions, e.g., Swift's relationships with the women "Stella" and "Vanessa." The useful discussions of major works are smoothly integrated into the bio graphical sections, and overall Nokes succeeds admirably in his goal of giving "a portrait of the whole man in his mul tifarious roles." Recommended for all subject collections. Starr E. Smith, Georgetown Univ. Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
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