The Personality of Jonathan Swift

By Irvin Ehrenpreis | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
GULLIVER

I

Until the publication of the Letters to Ford, literary scholars thought that Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels between 1715 and 1720, a period when he published almost nothing.1 His starting-point was, they believed, sketches made up by the Scriblerus group -- Pope, Swift, and others -- in 1713 and 1714, and finally produced by Pope in 1741. Then Professor Nichol Smith, in his edition of the Ford letters, proved that Swift wrote Part I of Gulliver in about 1721-2, Part II around 1722-3, Part IV in 1723, and Part III (after Part IV) in 1724-5. Swift continued to revise the whole book, probably until it was published in the autumn of 1726.

But if Professor Nichol Smith's facts have long been accepted, very few implications have been drawn from them. It is still normal for critics discussing the composition of the book to begin with Scriblerus, as it is still normal for them to seek later sources in literature and in political or intellectual history.2 If, however, the Scriblerus papers seemed a

____________________
1
The Letters of Jonathan Swift to Charles Ford, ed. D. Nichol Smith ( Oxford, 1935), pp. xxxviii-xlii. Sir Charles Firth used some of Professor Nichol Smith's evidence (not quite correctly) in "'The Political Significance of Gulliver's Travels'", Proceedings of the British Academy, IX ( 1920), 237-59.
2
For recent examples, see Ricardo Quintana, Swift, an Introduction ( Oxford,

-83-

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The Personality of Jonathan Swift
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • Chapter One Women 11
  • Chapter Two Obscenity 29
  • Chapter Three Little Language 50
  • Chapter Four History 59
  • Chapter Five Gulliver 83
  • Chapter Six Madness 117
  • Chapter Seven Old Age 127
  • Index 148
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