Jonathan Swift almost defines satire in this biting and brutal pamphlet in which he suggests that poor (Catholic) Irish families should fatten up their children and sell them to the rich (Protestant) land owners, thus solving the twin problems of starving children and poverty in one blow. When the "Proposal" was published in 1729, Swift was quickly attacked, and even accused of barbarity which was the exact state the "Proposal" was written to expose.
Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 - 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Tories), poet and cleric who became Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.
He is remembered for works such as Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.
In 1729, Swift published A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public, a satire in which the narrator, with intentionally grotesque logic, recommends that Ireland's poor escape their poverty by selling their children as food to the rich: â€I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food. Following the satirical form, he introduces the reforms he is actually suggesting by deriding them:
Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients...taxing our absentees...using [nothing] except what is of our own growth and manufacture...rejecting...foreign luxury...introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance...learning to love our country...quitting our animosities and factions...teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants....Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, 'till he hath at least some glimpse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.
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