Gulliver's Travels



In 1667, Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland. Raised by his uncle, Swift began attending Trinity College when he turned 14. Upon his graduation in 1688, Swift became politically active and served as the secretary for Sir William Temple, a politician associated with the Whig Party. However, in 1694 Swift became a country parson for the Church of Ireland. Eventually, Swift took on the position as chaplain of the earl of Berkeley. His time spent in the religious and political landscapes helped inspire the writing of the political satires that he is remembered for today.

During his tenure as chaplain, Swift wrote A Tale of a Tub, a prose parody that satirized religion. He also wrote The Battle of the Books, which he later added as an introduction to A Tale of a Tub. The Battle of the Books famously pits modern literature against ancient literature. Various library books “come alive” to participate in the debate. However, instead of declaring a winner of the “battle,” Swift presents both sides and leaves the conclusion up to the reader. In addition to these satires, Swift also wrote pamphlets that supported the Whig Party. Still, Swift’s loyalties to the church led to political conflicts with the Whig Party, so he became a member of the Tory Party in 1710.

Although once a dominant party, the Tory government lost power in 1714. Swift sought to work for the Church of England, but instead he became the dean of St. Patrick’s in Dublin. With his friend Alexander Pope, Swift continued to write satires. Eventually the work he did during these years became the groundwork for Gulliver’s Travels. First published in 1726, Gulliver’s Travels became an immediate source of controversy. Upon its first publication, editors removed some of the pages; it took ten years after the initial publication date for the satire to appear in its entirety. To this day, readers will find that certain editions of the book do not contain the entirety of the work. However, even edited versions...

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