David Profumo

‘A Born Loser’

Jonathan Swift: the brave desponder

By

Manchester University Press 287pp £21 order from our bookshop

Incredulity and the weary snapping open of card-indexes often greet the appearance of yet another weighty book about an already much scrutinised writer – can there really be so much new to say? With Swift, it is different: about his opinions and personality, genuine disagreement has persisted since his own lifetime, and he remains an enigma even to those thoroughly familiar with his works. Beginning with his own unreliable self-representations, filtered through myths about his marriage and his madness, magnified by certain notoriously hostile nineteenth-century writers, the image of Swift that we have today has evidently been subjected to consistent distortion. From serious political thinkers through to the bizarre fringes of psychoanalytical critics, he has fascinated the range of subsequent human intelligence.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,