The only Swift I have previously read was an abridged and — I think — sanitized version of Gulliver’s Travels, produced for younger readers and that spends a lot of time in Lilliput and not very much in Brobdignag and… the other lands. I don’t remember their names, exactly. In fairness, I was eight.
I never thought of it as an especially funny book, but I have seen it referenced so frequently as a compelling satire that I have long been determined to read it in its original form. (Plus, I loved that movie version with Jack Black in it.) But before embarking on such a course, I figured I might as well tackle a shorter and far less imposing example of Swift’s celebrated humour: thus, A Modest Proposal, short and much-acclaimed.
And… dark. So, so dark.
Basically, Swift contends in this faux parliamentary-style report that the best way to tackle the overabundance of parentless children in 18th-c Ireland is to turn them into a source of sustenance for the rest of society. Basically, Soylent Green way way before Soylent Green. I can only — and want to — assume that this is a commentary on the placing of such children into workhouses. And oh, it is funny, sure. Definitely funny, in a shocked-gasp, breathless, can’t-believe-what-you’re-reading kind of way. But also… yeah. DARK.
Maybe I don’t want to read the full-length Gulliver’s Travels, after all.
TBR DAY 271: A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
GENRE: Humour, Satire, Classics
TIME ON THE TBR: ~3 years.
PURCHASED FROM: Amazon.