Jonathan Swift by John Stubbs
The Reluctant Rebel

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Private yet performative, generous yet stingy, conservative yet rebellious, Swift was a knotty character. Stubbs brings an incisive intellect to the task of untangling him.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A rich and riveting portrait of the man behind Gulliver’s Travels, by a “vivid, ardent, and engaging” author (New York Times Book Review).

Jonathan Swift’s world-famous books―from Gulliver’s Travels to A Modest Proposal―are unparalleled in their piercing critique of modern society. Half-orphaned, a Dubliner by birth, but a man who would always insist he was English, Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) was a figure of great contradictions. An essayist, political pamphleteer, poet, and cleric who became dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Swift satirized the powerful but aspired to political greatness, mocked men’s vanity but held himself in high esteem, and was a religious moralizer famed for his malice―a man sharply aware of humanity’s flaws, but no less susceptible to them.

At once a revealing biography of a life that encompasses writing on religion, class, sex, power, and poverty and a portrait of the foremost political writer of his day, Jonathan Swift draws a vivid and nuanced account of an extraordinary man and a turbulent period of history.

8 pages of color illustrations
 

About John Stubbs

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John Stubbs studied English at Oxford and Renaissance literature at Cambridge, where he completed a doctorate. His book John Donne was awarded the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award and was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award. Stubbs lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Katja Šugman Stubbs
 
Published January 3, 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company. 752 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel.
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Critic reviews for Jonathan Swift
All: 5 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 0

Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Aram Bakshian Jr. on Apr 17 2017

John Stubbs, as one might expect from his earlier, widely acclaimed biography of the 17th century English poet John Donne, has done a masterful job of capturing Swift’s restless, sometimes tortured spirit...

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by JAMES McNAMARA on Feb 20 2017

Private yet performative, generous yet stingy, conservative yet rebellious, Swift was a knotty character. Stubbs brings an incisive intellect to the task of untangling him.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Jeffrey Meyers on Feb 24 2017

He has mastered the complex historical background that defined Swift’s life, judiciously examined the conflicting evidence, and produced an intelligent and elegantly written book.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by PD Smith on Feb 07 2018

Stubbs’s monumental biography impresses both for its meticulous research and its subtle and insightful portrait of such a contradictory personality, a man who could be “both enlightened and cruelly repressive in a single breath”.

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Ruth Scurr on Nov 11 2016

Stubbs restores Swift’s writing to its rich religious and cultural contexts without diminishing its autonomy.

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