Jonathan Swift

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE -

John Stubbs

Vik­ing, 752 pages, €15.40

This month marks the 350th an­niver­sary of the birth of the Dubliner, still con­sid­ered to have been one of the all-time great satirists in the English lan­guage. This ex­haus­tive bi­og­ra­phy looks at Swift’s many works of prose and po­etry but it is in its study of the man him­self where Stubbs’ re­search cap­ti­vates the most.

The writer was a hugely com­plex fig­ure with an am­biva­lent at­ti­tude to the coun­try of his birth. He may not have seen him­self as Ir­ish, and ap­pears to have had lit­tle in­ter­est in the Catholic peas­antry and, yet, as dean of St Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral, he was a con­stant thorn in the side of the Bri­tish es­tab­lish­ment and would reg­u­larly turn his vi­cious wit in their di­rec­tion.

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