BEST-LOVED SWIFT JOHN WYSE JACKSON O’Brien, ¤12.99
The author considers Jonathan Swift a man of contradictions: “warm humour and bitter gloom”, “shocking coarseness and deep Christian faith,” considerable moral courage but couldn’t be truthful to the women he loved. He wanted to make the world a better place and the pen was his weapon – he was an ingenious writer and a master satirist. This beautifully produced book offers extracts from his works in chronological order. Most of his sermons as Dean of St Patrick’s have been lost, which is a pity if the extract included here from On Sleeping in Church is any guide to their quality. Much comic verse is included, such as Phillis, Or, the Progress of Love, and some of it scatological, especially The Lady’s Dressing Room. Swift’s enigmatic relationships with “Stella” and “Vanessa” are considered. His Stella writings are generally playful, sometimes ambiguous but always affectionate. Extracts from the great Gulliver’s Travels feature, as do parts of A Modest Proposal and much more. For fans of Swift – and surely there are many – this is a welcome publication.