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Jonathan Swift

He was born on November 30, 1667, Irish author, clergyman and satirist Jonathan Swift grew up fatherless. Under the care of his uncle, he received a bachelor's degree from Trinity College and then worked as a statesman's assistant. Eventually, he became dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. Most of his writings were published under pseudonyms. He best remembered for his 1728 book Gulliver's Travels.

Swift's greatest satire, Gulliver's Travels, is considered one of the most important works in the history of world literature. Published as Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts; by Lemuel Gulliver in 1726,Gulliver's Travels depicts one man's journeys to several strange and unusual lands. The general theme of Gulliver's Travels is a satirical examination of human nature, man's potential for depravity, and the dangers of the misuse of reason. Throughout the volume Swift attacked the baseness of humankind even as he suggested the greatest virtues of the human race; he also attacked the folly of human learning and political systems even as he implied the proper functions of art, science, and government.

Gulliver's Travels, some scholars believe, had its origins during Swift's years as a Tory polemicist, when he was part of a group of prominent Tory writers known as the Scriblerus Club. The group, which also included Alexander Pope, John Gay, and John Arbuthnot, among others, collaborated on several satires, including The Scriblerus Papers. They also planned a satire called The Memoirs of a Martinus Scriblerus, which was to include several imaginary voyages. An immediate success, Gulliver's Travels was inspired by this work. Swift finished Gulliver's Travels was published anonymously, but Swift's authorship was widely suspected. Alternately considered an attack on humanity or a clear-eyed assessment of human strengths and weaknesses, the novel is a complex study of human nature and of the moral, philosophical, and scientific thought of Swift's time which has resisted any single definition of meaning for nearly three centuries. Note: The Scriblerus club: The club began as a project of satirizing the abuses of learning wherever they might be found.

The word satire comes from the Latin satura meaning a dish filled with mixed fruits. This was the usual dessert tray after a banquet, and an early meaning for the word was to be well fed as seen in such cognates as sated, saturated, and satisfied. In literature, it was used to identify the writers ability to blend humor with serious story.

Gentle and humorous satire is called Horatian Satire after the writing style of the Roman poet Horace. Heavy or biting satire called Juvenalian Satire after the Roman poet Juvenal. Therefore, Jonathan Swifts Gullivers Travels is a Horatian Satire because he gently criticized his society and humanity as a whole.

Because of the extensive accumulation of details in Gullivers Travels and because Swift is trying to influence mental attitudes as much as actual change, some critics identify Swifts Gullivers Travels as an example of Menippean satire, named after the Greek cynic Menippus.

A technique often used in satirical novels is the contrast between utopian and dystopian societies. The author usually introduces what at first appears to be a utopian society, but which the reader soon realizes is actually grotesque or dystopian.