The Personality of Jonathan Swift

The Personality of Jonathan Swift

The Personality of Jonathan Swift

The Personality of Jonathan Swift

Excerpt

My main purpose, in these essays, has been to show how Swift's personality could enter into his work: the topics which raise the hottest tempers when Swift is discussed belong to the region where biography meets criticism. I have also tried to undermine some of the false traditions concerning Swift. The most widespread -- that of a secret marriage -- I have attacked only sideways, in the first chapter, by showing that for a man of his nature a companionship without sexuality or wedlock was probably the deepest satisfying attachment he could form; but the heart of this chapter is the attempt to explain in general Swift's treatment of women. His politics and his religion I have also touched on indirectly, the first as it relates to his philosophy of history and the second as it affects Gulliver's Travels and the so-called scatological poems; and again those problems appear only as aspects of other inquiries. The allegations of obscenity and madness -- two issues as controversial as any involving Swift -- I have taken as the central questions of the second and sixth chapters. The third and seventh chapters deal with less sensational matters, but present a fair supply of corrective data as aids to the understanding of Swift's character. Unfortunately, the narrative of the seventh overlaps, in some ways, the argument of the . . .

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