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Thread: what do you think about Jonathan swift's A Modest Proposal?

  1. #1
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    what do you think about Jonathan swift's A Modest Proposal?

    Have you ever read this book?
    what do you think? it is terrible?

  2. #2
    freaky geeky emily655321's Avatar
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    I think it's funny.
    If you had to live with this you'd rather lie than fall.
    You think I can't fly? Well, you just watch me!

    ~The Dresden Dolls

  3. #3
    It's brilliant satire. Never meant to be taken seriously. A parody on the way slightly less distasteful proposals (but still appaling to Irish eyes) were rationalised by the British government. It is an incredible example of stretching a ridiculous concept to it's absolute limits while maintaining such a deadpan stance that many actually felt he was serious at the time (and judging by Truth_forest's post, some still do).

    I'm with Emily - It's funny!

  4. #4
    I agree with XC and Emily, it's quite hilarious. And a closer reading might show that he actually provides true ways of remedying the plight of the poverty-stricken shortly after spending time about eating children. Brilliant.

  5. #5
    As much as I love A Modest Proposal, I do think he borders on the hysterical at times. Now there’s an interesting word: “Hysterica passio! Down, thou climbing sorrow!” (King Lear). The root 'hyster' comes from the Greek word for womb. There’s obviously a link between females and psychological disturbance.

  6. #6
    fated loafer
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    Being as it was read to me as a bedtime story in my wee days, my view may be somewhat clouded, but it was always obvious that it was not meant to be taken seriously. And there is no doubt that the Greeks would associate all things hysterical to the female. Starting with Gaia there is a tendency for Greek female goddesses and "heroines" to be the untrustworthy ones. Women lost all logicality when Zeus swalled Thetis (wisdom) whole and gained all things right and just on his side. Sigh.

    It seems though that the whole point of the story is to be hysterical, poke more than just fun at society, but display that some things are downright wrong.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by simon
    It seems though that the whole point of the story is to be hysterical, poke more than just fun at society, but display that some things are downright wrong.
    Sorry for missing “the whole point of the story” (although I wouldn’t call it a story, so it shows how far off track I am). For me, Swift’s punch is far harder when it is first delivered. After that he seems to get so carried away by piling on more and more abomination that he loses sight of his original purpose. It’s still hilarious and brutal but the latter half lacks the controlled and devastating savagery of the first half.

  8. #8
    All's fair in love & war Amanda29's Avatar
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    The first time I read it, I was a little surprised. It's amazing to me how something so hilarious can be cloaked so drolly. For instance, in order to be read aloud properly, it would need to be read by someone who could be dramatic and sound somewhat pompously humorous without so much as cracking a smile. I love satire like that! I, myself, am not good at it at all.

    I truly admire works such as "A Modest Proposal". I believe it was a real slam to those who sat idle on their hands - and their wallets- while the impoverished citizens became more and more so. I feel that Jonathan Swift's intention (though far more graphic and satirical) was a bit like Charles Dicken's had been when he wrote "A Christmas Carol", a wake-up call to the very wealthy to extend their charity to the poor. The idea of eating the children was meant to be humorous, and yet was intended to prompt solutions to their economic and social problems.

    The language and satire of "A Modest Proposal" combine for a reading experience that's not everyone's cup of tea. Many of my friends and relatives don't understand, or even like, works such as this one. But my opinion about classic literature is that, just like today's modern publications, not everyone is going to like each work. Read what appeals to you. But do try to read something of culture, with good breeding and history behind it, to stimulate your mind.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by The Unnamable View Post
    Sorry for missing “the whole point of the story” (although I wouldn’t call it a story, so it shows how far off track I am). For me, Swift’s punch is far harder when it is first delivered. After that he seems to get so carried away by piling on more and more abomination that he loses sight of his original purpose. It’s still hilarious and brutal but the latter half lacks the controlled and devastating savagery of the first half.
    But you see,this is because in the second half, he allows his honest opinion, and true self through the sheet of the narrator in spots. The second half is less brutal because it is meant to reveal. Whereas plenty is learned in the first half's brutal humor, not everyone gets that, rather, it finishes making slightly more obvious jabs and statements as clarification, as a way of opening the door. After all, remember he was writing in a time where being literal was that of chief prospect (reason for "Gulliver's Travels")

    Really, it's quite brilliant.

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