BEST-LOVED SWIFT JOHN WYSE JACK­SON O’Brien, ¤12.99

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - BOOKS NEWEDITIONS - BRIAN MAYE

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.

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