A Modest Proposal and Other Satirical Works
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A Modest Proposal and Other Satirical Works

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  9,928 ratings  ·  133 reviews
The originality, concentrated power and ‘fierce indignation’ of his satirical writing have earned Jonathan Swift a reputation as the greatest prose satirist in English literature. Gulliver’s Travels is, of course, his world renowned masterpiece in the genre; however, Swift wrote other, shorter works that also offer excellent evidence of his inspired lampoonery. Perhaps the...more
Paperback, 64 pages
Published February 2nd 1996 by Dover Publications (first published 1729)
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Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan SwiftCandide by VoltaireRobinson Crusoe by Daniel DefoeThe Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheSongs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake
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Ori
I originally had two shelves:

books that make me want to have children so I can read to them

and

books that make me want to have children so I can eat them

But really this is the only one that would fall in the latter category.

This is one of the greatest pieces of satire ever written, but seriously, have you ever noticed that babies really do taste better? Think about it. Veal, lamb, kittens. I could go on.
Marts  (Thinker)
When one hears 'Swift', Gulliver's Travels usually comes to mind and that was an exceptional work of literature, so I think I'll experience him from a satirical angle.

Actually I ended up listening to this work (having acquired an audio version). Yes I admire Swift's irony in relation to every day situations, though it may seem a bit harsh, the method may at times be the only means of effectivly relating a message.
Jessica
Swift's satire, A Modest Proposal, was not well-known or well-read in his life. Of course, given the nature of the piece--the desperate need for change in Ireland--lack of recognition was difficult.

I have read and taught this many times. Most students don't understand the depths of the satire or the excellent argument structure presented in this essay.

Swift's ability to develop his argument in the way he has makes the piece an excellent read for anyone looking to understand the many forms of dev...more
Mark Bratkowski
This is another book that I read to teach at Ursuline next year. Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" is without a doubt one of the most intellectual and humorous pieces of satire ever written. Another satiric essay that I liked was "An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity in England". This was written earlier than "A Modest Proposal" but uses soome of the same devices. Swift's evidence shows how ending Christianity would bring political and economic benefits to England. Of course, his argum...more
Nicky
Dec 13, 2007 Nicky rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: thinkers, people who appreciate humor
Shelves: philosophy
A Modest Proposal and Other Satirical Works contains five essays by Swift. A Modest Proposal focuses upon politics, Battle of the Books upon literature and philosophy, and the remaining three address religious belief and practice.

A Modest Proposal is easily the most famous of Swift's essays, and as such most people are aware of its premise. It is incredibly witty, brief, and poignant. A fine satire.

To appreciate Battle of the Books requires a fair amount of understanding regarding ancient a...more
Booklovinglady
The reason for picking up A Modest Proposal and Other Satirical Works was that I wanted to reread A modest proposal, which I had previously read in my copy of The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Vol 1 and which I still think is a masterpiece and as such absolutely great.

As a sort of ‘bonus’ I had four more of Swift’s satirical writings in this book, each of which I liked. I must add though, that by far the most of his satirical writings require (a lot of) background knowledge about the p...more
John Yelverton
The modest proposal would have been if someone had asked not to write this horrid thing.
matt


"A Modest Proposal" is so fucking ridiculously contemporary that I can't help but be the one to say it for the millionth time. If you think things have gotten too raw and uncivilized in today's age, and that people were more well mannered in the olden days, you are....full O' SHITE!

I'm sure no one reading this actually does think this way but still...I love being able to add this bit of actual, factual info and not feeling the least bit bad about it because history is genteel only to the people...more
Patrick Nichols
And thus it may, if the verbal effrontery of such an utterance may be indulged, however briefly, be averred, with the blessings of those guardians on the battlements of concinnity, even modestly asseverated, if such a contradiction does not run counter to said diction, that the author's style, with such a fecund profusion of subordinate and even, dare I say, insubordinate clauses, rococo verbal flourishes, and sesquipedialian agglomerations, while constructed with a labyrinthine ingenuity that e...more
Erica
This is one of my favorite satirical works of all time in which Swift proposes, to solve the problem of the poverty and starvation rampant in Ireland, that the poor Irish eat their own children to stave off hunger.

"I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a frica...more
Jayme
A Modest Proposal was great. So were the rules for servants. Jonathan Swift is a master satirist. But a lot of the accompanying papers were snores--inside jokes, and even languages, with friends. So, 4 stars to the funny papers, and 2 stars to the boring letters, with an average of 3 stars.
Meg
I was in high school when I first read this and once I got over the shock of the proposal I grew to appreciate the wit in the satire and the history behind the motivation and purpose of the author for writing it.
Andrew Reid
Aug 28, 2007 Andrew Reid rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: comedian
Such original shocking humor and irony. A modest proposal made a lot of people angry when it was released into the high society of London while the Irish starved. I loved it.
J
I'm reading that most people think this was a satire written to shake a finger at the British for standing idly by(or not idly, but actually preventing economic growth in Ireland with staunch import/export laws and citizenship laws that prevented the Irish from owning land,etc.) while the Irish starved. And while it's true that the English effectively starved an entire generation of poor Irish and invited the Plague and other diseases into the soggy country, I don't think the essay suggests that...more
Alaina Sloo
I read a A Modest Proposal (full title A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick) to my 13-year-old son for the first time today. Written in 1729, some of Swift's language can be difficult for a teenager (even a well-read one), but it's easier to understand when read aloud. And what teenage boy can resist the gross outrageousness of a satirical proposal to solve the problem of pover...more
Kristin Matte
I read A Modest Proposal in 7th or 8th grade.

I remember it blowing my mind.

It was my first experience with dry, satirical wit that was absolutely scathing with contempt.

It opened me up to the value of comedy and satire as subversion.
Lorenzo Berardi
Witty. Provoking. Macabre.
And unbelievably mistaken by some of his contemporary fellowmen.

"A Modest Proposal" is a masterpiece on how satire may be used for condemning human hypocrisy revealing the social issues unseen by the calculated blindness of many governors.

The anthropophagy solution for winning over poverty, unemployment, begging and constant starving in Ireland is expressed by Jonathan Swift in a cynical and unemotional way.

A way that shows how modern Swift was and how much he had to...more
Peter
What do you do when the state of current politics makes you want to scream? Read this. THIS. Swift issues an Oh Snap that is so deftly, scathingly understated that it rips through all the “because reasons” arguments like rounds of armor piercing bullets through a convention of fleshy NRA delegates. Would that we had more Jonathan Swifts around today, or at least more people who could re-characterize an issue like he could. You keep wondering whether he will turn up the heat in his low key “Modes...more
Ahmet Uçar
What a great proposal it really is. Same is still valid today. Perfectly written. Very witty and vicious.
Jeremy
Read selections for my English Religious Authors seminar at Baylor with Dr. Kevin Gardner (Summer 2014).

xxxi: Hibernian Patriot (also p. xxxiii and 243)
94: punning
100: lying
105: obey the king
106: temperance
230-31: stealing
Vanessa G.
trivia: jonathan swift invented the name vanessa.
anyway,
i wrote my own modest proposal once.. creating a line of all natural human breast milk products from the breasts of single welfare mothers. building an idyllic commune/farm to house all them complete with schools, medical care, and childcare. mother's milk, mother's cheese, mother's ice cream...

i'd eat it.
Laura Wetsel
Russia has a surplus of stray dogs and cats running around its muddy and cracked sidewalks. And they are such hungry creatures! Inspired by Swift, I suggested a remedy to the problem--Why not clean the streets by capturing the poor souls and satisfy the hunger of the Russian people by savoring their flesh? But of course, my suggestion was not together a novel one for many have already put it into practice. (I mean the street vendors, primarily.)
John
Interesting enough. Not nearly as funny as something written by Dave Barry or Jon Stewart, but probably more insightful. Truck loads of dated references make this a pretty tough read, and I don't have a particularly good grasp of the historical context in which it was written; but it was still somewhat amusing in the way it presented some pretty serious food for thought.
Lilly  B
Ireland=good. England= bad. Eating babies=bad. Being one of the greatest satirists of the English language, Swift does not hold anything back in this one. I have read this piece many times, and every time I discover something new in Swift’s prose. This is one of the best examples of manipulation of rhetoric, and it perfectly showcases how well Swift handles the language.
Donna
I am so grateful that my AP English teacher assigned this my senior year of high school. It is brilliant, and so incredibly dry and cutting, both at the same time. As an Irish-American who supports the unity of all Ireland, I appreciate it even more today, 35 years after I read it the first time. Mr. Swift, if I believed in a heaven, I would expect to find you there.
Leslie
I think all Anglican priests should strive to be as shocking at Swift.
Judaye
Oh I love to read "A Modest Proposal." I think it is one of the most excellent satire ever written. I feel as if I have just bit into a perfectly tart apple, and my vision and thinking becomes clearer every time I read it. It is gilt edged with equal parts of truth and humor. Enjoy! Thank me later.
Aileen
The proposal being that the poor Irish could solve a lot of problems by eating their children! This is the best (and funniest) work of the five essays in this volume. I can't say I was overwhelmed by this book, and probably wouldn't have picked it up if it hadn't been on the 1001 Books to Read list.
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1831
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jonathan Swift was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for Whigs then for Tories), and poet, famous for works like Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, The Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, and A Tale of a Tub. Swi...more
More about Jonathan Swift...
Gulliver's Travels A Modest Proposal Gulliver's Travels and Other Writings Gulliver's Travels / A Modest Proposal (Enriched Classics) A Tale of a Tub

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