Daniel Defoe was born in 1660 to James Foe (note the spelling), a chandler in St. Giles, Cripplegate, London. In 1695 the younger Foe adopted the more aristocratic sounding "Defoe" as his surname.
Defoe trained for the ministry at Morton's Academy for Dissenters, but he never followed through on this plan, and instead worked briefly as a hosiery merchant before serving as a soldier for the king during Monmouth's Rebellion.
After that short-lived revolt was speedily put down, Defoe returned to hosiery, and built a successful company. He traveled widely on the continent in the course of his business, and was recruited by the government to act as a spy, a role in which he seems to have delighted.
Defoe was a prolific writer, and the first publication we know of appeared in 1688, but it was his The True Born Englishman (1701) which propelled him into the limelight. This poem attacked those who thought England should not have a foreign-born king, and not surprisingly, King William became a firm supporter of Defoe and his work.
His subsequent publications, including The Review newspaper, were not so well received by those in positions of power. Defoe managed to anger the Anglican Church and the Whig Party in turn, and each had him thrown into prison for a time.
Perhaps these experiences made him weary of the dangers inherent in political commentary, for in 1719 Defoe turned to fiction, writing Robinson Crusoe, based on the true account of a shipwrecked mariner. He followed the success of Crusoe with Captain Singleton (1720), Journal of the Plague Year (1722), Captain Jack (1722), Moll Flanders (1722), and Roxanda (1724).
Defoe did not confine himself to fiction; he also wrote several popular travel books, including the vivid Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724-27). Before his death in 1731, Daniel Defoe published over 500 books and pamphlets.
Defoe is regarded as one of the founders of the English novel. Before his time fiction was primarily written in verse or in the form of plays, but Defoe and, to a lesser extent, Samuel Richardson, developed a new form of storytelling - one which remains with us today. He can also be credited with being one of the founding fathers of English journalism (whether that is a positive thing is open to debate).
Jonathan Swift was an Anglo-Irish churchman, political writer, poet, and one of the greatest satirists in world literature. Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland, in November 1667. A few months later his father died, and he was left to be taken care of by his Uncles. Swift was educated first at Kilkenny School, which provided the best education Ireland had to offer at the time. In 1682, Swift began attending Trinity College in Dublin. Six years later, an outbreak of political violence in Ireland forced him to join his mother in England. Most of the next 10 years were spent in the household of Sir William Temple at Moor Park, where Swift had Temple's rich library at his disposal. In 1692, he received an MA degree from Oxford. At the time, Swift was very much a Whig both in political theory and in his party attachments. However, Swift was also a most devoted churchman. Increasingly he came to feel that the policies of the Whig party ran counter to the best interest of the Church of England, and when the Tories came to power in the autumn of 1710, Swift shifted his allegiance to them. He spent the rest of his life writing for the Tories' cause. Jonathan Swift died on October 19, 1745. On his gravestone lie a subtle reminder of his fight for the rights of the Irish. In words that Swift wrote himself:
The body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Sacred Theology, dean of this cathedral church, is buried here, where fierce indignation can no more lacerate his heart. Go, traveler, and imitate, if you can, one who strived with all his strength to champion liberty.
Like all true satirists, Swift was predominantly a moralist, one who chastises the vices and follies of mankind in the name of virtue and common sense. Throughout his writing, Swift constantly raised the question of whether the achievements of civilization - its advancing technology, its institutions, its refinement of manners - cannot be seen as complex forms of barbarism. With this theme in mind, Swift wrote what he is best known for: "A Tale of a Tub" (1704), "Gulliver's Travels" (1726), and "A Modest Proposal" (1729). Swift's most powerful and best-known piece dealing with the plight of the Irish is known as "A Modest Proposal." With this proposal he brought into view the economic and social evils that plagued eighteenth-century Ireland. "A Modest Proposal" is a grimly ironic letter of advice in which a public-spirited citizen suggests that economic conditions could be alleviated if the children of poor parents were used as delicacies for gentlemen's dinner tables.
"In a Nutshell"
"A Modest Proposal" is a satirical proposal written by Jonathan Swift for the purpose of exploiting very important socioeconomic issues in a subtle and comic way. It is a proposal for "preventing children of poor people in Ireland from being a burden to their parents or country and for making them beneficial to the public."
Swift begins his proposal by describing the sorts of morose settings a tourist would find himself in if ever he were to walk down the streets. From there, he skillfully includes computations he has made on the subjects of "breeders" and infants in order to support his ideas. Swift then casually exposes the core of his proposal which is to treat infants and young children like common livestock. They are to be bred, fed, then baked, broiled, sauted, what have you, to feed the upper class of England. If not for food, the children could also be used to make such leather fashion accessories such as gloves, purses, belts, etc. Although the idea of dining on an infant seems appalling, Swift rationalizes the situation by focusing on the positive aftermath: the number of Papists would be lessened; the lower class would have something of value in order to pay their bills; the nations stock would increase; the food (children) would become a symbol of fine dining; and it would be "a great inducement for marriage."
After stating his proposal, Swift politely excuses himself from it by mentioning that he has no children and his wife is past child-bearing stage. In other words, he found a way out of it. Clever guy.
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