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A Tale of A Tub by Jonathan Swift
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A Tale of A Tub (1704)

by Jonathan Swift

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In this short work the master of satire satirizes most of the important parts of eighteenth century society: religion, politics, and even writing itself. Three brothers, Peter (representing St. Peter and Catholicism), Martin (representing Martin Luther and Protestantism), and Jack (representing John Calvin and the Church of England), are left with coats and specific instructions for caring for their coats in their father's will. When following their father's instructions to the letter becomes inconvenient for them, they start to creatively interpret the will. Peter eventually becomes wealthy, and his brothers criticize him for excluding them and decide to be more faithful in following their father's instructions. Martin very carefully removes as many of the adornments he has added to his coat as he can without damaging it, then leaves the rest in order to preserve the original coat. Jack rips all of the extra adornments off but destroys the original coat in the process. Mixed in between parts of the story are a series of digressions that satirize a variety of different topics.

I found this piece to be both fun to read and hard to read at the same time. Swift's language and usage are just different enough from contemporary English that it makes him difficult to understand, and the fact that satire is often deliberately obtuse didn't help. Nevertheless, I was able to keep up with most of what he was saying, and I really appreciate Swifts's skill as the master of satire. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
250) A Tale of a Tub Jonathon Swift
★★

This is complicated story with one central story line that of 3 brothers Martin, Peter and Jack who represent the 3 major divisions of Christianity. They are given a fine coat (Christianity) each by their father (God) when he dies and instructions not to change it unless it is within the terms of his will (The Bible) as you can guess this doesnt suit young men about town and before long the will has been used to justify changing the coats our of recognition. (most of this information was provided by Wikipedia)

As if this wasnt enough for the modern reader to take in each section about the brothers is interspersed with ramblings about nearly every object under the sun, including writers, critics and book sellers.

This is apparently the first literary parody ever recorded and as such deserves its place on the list however I could happily live without having read it, at its time it was probably widely understood by the readers but I felt so removed from what Swift was trying to parody that I was slowly losing the will to live the further into the book I got.

( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
I need a guide for the satirically perplexed. In the introduction to this guide, I need it explained to me why satire needs to be couched in metaphor. Along with this explanation, I need some sort of legend that shows me what each allegory means - and every time the allegory is mentioned, it needs to be footnoted again, because I can't keep track of it all in my head. The digressions and preachings were jarring and confusing as well. I had no idea what was going on, or what the author was trying to say, but it was short, so it's over. ( )
  MartinBodek | Oct 21, 2015 |
I need a guide for the satirically perplexed. In the introduction to this guide, I need it explained to me why satire needs to be couched in metaphor. Along with this explanation, I need some sort of legend that shows me what each allegory means - and every time the allegory is mentioned, it needs to be footnoted again, because I can't keep track of it all in my head. The digressions and preachings were jarring and confusing as well. I had no idea what was going on, or what the author was trying to say, but it was short, so it's over. ( )
  MartinBodek | Oct 21, 2015 |
Subordinate clause follows subordinate clause, ad tedium. Interesting as a historical document, but it's hard to get much actual joy when the target of the satire is no longer relevant, and the wit is buried in overwrought 18th century writing. ( )
  sometimeunderwater | May 27, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141018879, Paperback)

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Jonathan Swift spent many years in Dublin as the Dean Of St Patricks and with a rather complicated domestic life. A great campaigner for social reform for the mentally ill at his death his estate was left to fund a hospital for their care. His works are uniformly wonderful. In this, 'A Modest Proposal' it is satire at its very best.… (more)

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