Lecture outline Jonathan Swift’s life


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Lecture outline

  • 1. Jonathan Swift’s life

  • 2. Swift’s main works

  • 3. Gulliver’s Travels

  • 4.Prose appreciation: A Modest Proposal

  • 5.Summary of Swift’s style

  • 6.Appendix: development of prose-writing in the 18th century



Jonathan Swift

  • One of the greatest wits of the 18th century

  • Dream: wanted to cure society’s ills with humor

  • Dual identities: born 1667 in Ireland to English parents, died 1745 in Ireland

  • Spent most of his life in Ireland, devoted to Irish affairs, but always considered himself English and a Tory



Swift’s reputation in Ireland

  • Swift as depicted on the Irish £10 banknote, issued 1976–1993



Bust in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Ireland

  • Bust in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Ireland



I Swift’s life and his career



Swift’s love affair

  • Esther Johnson, (Stella)

  • educating her, forming her character, and later coming to love her

  • Love letters Journal to Stella



Swift’s Epitaph

    • Swift has sailed into his rest.
    • Savage indignation there
    • cannot lacerate(割裂) his breast.
    • Imitate him if you dare,
    • world-besotted(痴迷的) traveller.
    • He served human liberty.
    • ---translated by W. B. Yeats from Latin


II Swift’s Works





Gulliver’s Travels Part I: to Lilliput



Quotes

  • “Should eggs be broken at the big end or the little end? “

  • “This, however, is thought to be a mere strain upon the text, for the words are these, that all true believers shall break their eggs at the convenient end. And which is the convenient end seems, in my humble opinion, to be left to every man’s conscience, or at least in the power of the Chief Magistrate(法官) to determine”.



Parliamentary Parties

  • Tories: for a strong king, tended to be Anglicans & landless nobles (who got their titles from the king)

  • Whigs: for a strong Parliament, tended to be Anglicans who supported religious freedom, as well as merchants and lawyers; also included Puritans

  • Part one is a satire on the Tories and the Whigs



More pictures in Lilliput



Part 2: to Brobdingnag (大人国)

  • Part 2: to Brobdingnag (大人国)

  • accused the English corrupt politics and jingoism (侵略主义) through the kings’ words in Brobdingnag (大人国).

  • a satire on English lords and ladies



More pictures in Brobdingnag



Part 3: to Laputa (Flying Island)

  • Part 3: to Laputa (Flying Island)



Gulliver and headstrong scientist



Part 4: to the country of the Houyhnhnms



“To mend the world”



Summary of Gulliver’s Travels

  • The first two books are children’s favorite.

  • Air of authenticity and realism: contemporaries believed them to be true





Pamphlets on Ireland earned him the status of an Irish.

  • Pamphlets on Ireland earned him the status of an Irish.

  • Quote:

  • “Am I a free man in England and do I become a slave in six hours by crossing the Channel?”



“A Modest Proposal”

  • Protested English economic & political domination of Ireland

  • Whigs imposed harsh conditions to support the few English Protestants who lived in Ireland

  • Catholics could not buy land

  • English Parliament claimed right to legislate for Ireland



III Close reading of text A Modest Proposal

  • What is the identity of the persona “I” in the essay? What’s the apparent purpose of his proposal?

  • a projector

  • “for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public” (P.1)



What has stimulated the persona to make his proposal?

  • What has stimulated the persona to make his proposal?

  • “a melancholy object” in Ireland.

  • beggars, and jobless men, (thieves, slaves)

  • (Para. 1)

  • “children has been a burden”

  • to find a fair, cheap and easy method”. (Para. 2)



How does the persona evaluate his own proposal?

  • How does the persona evaluate his own proposal?

  • 1) It is of a much greater extent: “far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars” (para. 3)

  • 2) a considerate and thoughtful proposal. “having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighted the several schemes of other projectors” (para. 4)

  • 3) prevention of bloody murdering: to prevent women’s voluntary abortions; (para. 5)



What kind of proposal does the persona make? State the content of the proposal.

  • What kind of proposal does the persona make? State the content of the proposal.

  • to sell the infants at the age of one year old, for the flesh at this age is 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 fricassee or a ragout.



Why does the projector propose to sell infants instead of children at the age of 12?

  • Why does the projector propose to sell infants instead of children at the age of 12?

  • 1) children are sold at the age of 12, but their parents can get 3 pounds, that is too cheap. A one-year-old infant can be sold for 10 shillings. Their parents get 8 shillings as net profit---enough to give birth to a second baby---in terms of the parents.

  • 2) infant food is precious suitable to entertain friends for the persons of quality and fortune----in terms of the landlords

  • 3) to reduce the number of Catholics in Ireland.

  • 4) to reconcile the relationship between the landlords and the tenants. ----in terms of the government

  • 5) to provide more job vacancy: shambles; ----in terms of the society



What is the author’s real intension? How about its tone?

  • What is the author’s real intension? How about its tone?

  • to satirize the ruthlessness and hypocrisy of the ruling class and show great sympathy to the poor people in an ironic tone



In what kind of techniques does the author utilize to achieve the effect?

  • In what kind of techniques does the author utilize to achieve the effect?

  • Wording in irony:

  • 1) Direct satire: I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best right to the children.

  • 2) Indirect satire: thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among the tenants. ---

  • Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require)…

  • more examples: professed beggars; for the “carcass” of a good fat child; fore or hind quarter; dam; ---to satirize that the infants are merely animals in the eyes of the ruling class.



Rhythm as whole

  • Rhythm as whole

  • 3) The whole prose goes calmly and logically to utter the projector’s cool-headed statement. It is the cool-headedness that demonstrates his cruelty inward.



How do you think of the ending? Is it forceful?

  • How do you think of the ending? Is it forceful?

  • The end is forceful enough to reinforce the satire against the upper class.

  • Apparently, the projector doesn’t intend to acquire any profit for his own interests, yet in essentially, he won’t sacrifice anything in this proposal.



How to translate and interpret the title of the essay? Is it a modest proposal?

  • How to translate and interpret the title of the essay? Is it a modest proposal?

  • “一个小小的建议”

  • However, the proposal is not modest at all, on the contrary, it is bloody and devouring.

  • Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of a style.

  • -------Jonathan Swift



IV Swift’s style

  • IV Swift’s style

  • One of the greatest masters of English prose;

  • simple, clear, vigorous language;

  • simple, direct and precise prose;

  • a master satirist;

  • powerful satire.

  • deadly irony;



Swift on Satire

  • Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.



Appendix: Development of Prose-writing in the 18th Century

  • The appearance of coffee-houses stimulated the development of paper and style of prose-writing.

  • Richard Steele started the first paper “The Tatler” (an issue of 3 times a week) in 1709.

  • Steele and Joseph Addison collaborated “The Spectator” during 1711-12---the first daily paper---supposed to be edited by a small club headed by Mr. Spectator, a man of travel and learning.



Richard Steele (1672-1729)



Their careers run parallel courses

  • Their careers run parallel courses

    • Both attend the same school and university
    • Both enjoy the patronage of the Great Whigs
    • Both serve government and get official positions
    • Both are political writers and newspaper editors


Significance of “The Spectator”

  • Significance of “The Spectator”

  • The essays in the paper deal mainly with the manners, morals and literature of the time. the object is to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality.

  • Another feature is the character sketches of Mr. Spectator, a type of a new culture. Character sketches are the forerunner of the modern English novel.



In general

  • In general

  • Their writings shape a new code of social morality for the bourgeoisie.

  • They give a true picture of the social life of England in the 18th century.

  • In the hands of Addison and Steele, the English essay had completely established itself as a literary genre. They ushered in the dawn of the modern novel.




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