A great story teller in the utopian-antiutopian novel tradition isJonathan SWIFT (1667-1745)
J. Swift was born in
. Here he got a degree at Dublin . In 1689 he became secretary to Sir William Temple, a well-known essayist and politician in Trinity College Surrey where Swift met Esther Johnson, the “Stella”of his Journal to Stella, a collection of letters written to his life-long (= per tutta la vita) friend. The letters give an interesting day-by-day account (= racconto quotidiano) of his life in and of his intense political activity. Back to London in 1694, he was ordained (=ordinato) an Anglican priest and in 1695 was given the small prebend of Kilroot. After a period spent in Surrey, he was appointed Dean of St. Patrick’s, Ireland , in 1713 but he never obtained the bishopric (= vescovado) to which he aspired. In the course of numerous visits to Dublin he became friendly with Addison and Steele and active in Whig politics. His opinion about the Whigs changed , however, when that party demonstrated its unfriendliness to the Anglican Church.
In 1713 Swift joined Pope, Addison, Gay, Steele, Congreve, Arbuthnot, and others in forming the celebrated Scriblerus Club, whose object was to ridicule all false tastes in learning (=gusti del sapere). About this time Swift became involved (= coinvolto) with another woman, Esther Vanhomrigh, the “Vanessa” of his poem Cadenus and Vanessa (1712-13). The woman died a few weeks after his final rupture with her in
1723. In his last years Swift was afflicted with a brain disorder, and was considered by some as misanthropic and mad. He was buried in St. Patrick’s, , beside Stella.
In his works Swift shows his polemical and satirica vein. He was a Christian moralist who tried to reform the follies and vices of society, using biting irony and savage indignation to achieve his aims.
He wrote The
of the Books (1704), about ancient and modern literature; A Tale of a Tub (1704), a satire against the Church of Rome and the Dissenters on religious excesses. In his bitterly (= amaramente) ironical pamphlet A Modest Proposal (1729), he propounds that the children of the poor are sold as food for the tables of the rich, in order to solve the problem of poverty and overpopulation (= sovrappopolamento) in Ireland.But his fame is mainly due to Swift’s satirical masterpiece (=capolavoro), Gulliver’s Travels, appeared in 1726. Ironically, this ruthless (= cruda) satire of human follies subsequently was turned into an expurgated story for children.
Note: The Whig party was created in
1680 in opposition to the Tory. It supported the constitutional monarchy and then was sustained by the emerging middle