Swift: An Illustrated Life 1667-1745
By: Bruce Arnold
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Who was Jonathan Swift? Bruce Arnold’s provocative book examines this enigmatic figure in the light of his relationships – with his lover Esther Vanhomrigh (‘Vanessa’), his ward Esther Johnston (‘Stella’), and his many great male friends: Congreve, Temple, Bolingbroke, Harley, Pope, Addison, Thomas Sheridan, and others. Though often caricatured as a bitter misanthrope, Swift can only be properly understood if we recognize his love of humanity and his capacity for friendship.
Arnold traces this theme from Swift’s youth in Ireland and his literary and political apprenticeship at Moor Park in Surrey, and on through the years of greatness – the brilliant satires and pamphlets, the Church diplomacy at the Court of Queen Anne, and the great writings of his maturity: the Drapier’s Letters, A Modest Proposal, and Gulliver’s Travels.
Here, for the first time, Swift’s long and varied life is illustrated through contemporary engravings of the places he lived in, the people he knew, and the leading figures who defined his age.
BRUCE ARNOLD is the literary editor and chief critic of the Irish Independent. He is the author of many books, including The Scandal of Ulysses; studies of Margaret Thatcher and Charles Haughey; A Concise History of Irish Art and definitive works on William Orpen, Mainie Jellett and Jack Yeats; and four novels. He also wrote the libretto for A Passionate Man, an opera about Jonathan Swift.
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