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A Modest Proposal

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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

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48 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1729

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About the author

Jonathan Swift

2,107 books1,710 followers
Jonathan Swift was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for Whigs then for Tories), and poet, famous for works like Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, The Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. Swift published all of his works under pseudonyms — such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier — or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire; the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,677 reviews
Profile Image for Wil Wheaton.
Author 98 books195k followers
April 20, 2020
Unbelievably funny satire that is painfully relevant today, a couple hundred years after it was written.
Profile Image for Brian.
Author 1 book969 followers
October 26, 2015
Last night my daughter asked me to watch what passes for comedy to pre-teens on Nickelodeon; a show low on laughs but high on laugh track. It's Halloween week and of course the thematic drum of cheap scares and slutty costumes (those of you dads that have 11 year old girls know what it is like to take a knee at the end of the show to have a side-bar chat about this topic alone) plays large when midway through the episode a six year old girl dressed like a failing barrister circa 1735 comes firing on stage screaming at her parents because they got her a Jonathan Swift costume instead of the requested Taylor Swift. This is where I wanted to pause live TV to tell my daughter about the original Swift, about A Modest Proposal - how our current American culture screams for someone like him to write about our never-ending race problem, our soul sucking capitalism-at-any-cost, our failed PAC-fueled political system. But my daughter is 11, I am 45, it's late on Saturday night and I don't have it in me. I watch the Jonathan Swift girl rant and rave and I drool thinking about delicious Irish babies in a white wine sauce.
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,328 reviews7,102 followers
August 11, 2020
**3.5 stars **

A modest proposal’, is a satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. The essay suggests that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles, by selling their children for food to rich ladies and gentlemen! This satirical hyperbole, mocked heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as British policy toward the Irish in general.

A macabre, but tongue in cheek suggestion to the poor of 1729, on how to avoid poverty, by selling their babies for food! Lock up your babies now!, until they’re a fully formed adult, is all I say!

It’s free on this link https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1080/...
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,106 reviews3,880 followers
June 8, 2020
Gloom and doom

When I was an undergraduate, Thomas Malthus’ 1798 An Essay on the Principle of Population was on the geography curriculum, and as a studious student, I read (some of) it.

It was depressing, as the gist seemed to be that we’re all going to die. All of us. Slowly. Painfully. Because population grows exponentially, whereas the ability of humans to feed themselves grows only arithmetically/ linearly.

Image: Linear versus exponential growth (Source.)

So we’ll starve. And before that, we’ll be too poor to buy what food there is, because population growth will increase the labour supply and drive down wages. The birth rate must be cut. Celibacy should be promoted, too. And higher death rates accepted.

Kenneth Boulding’s poem, from a 20th century environmental angle, seemed to agree:

A Conservationist’s Lament

The world is finite, resources are scarce,
Things are bad and will be worse.
Coal is burned and gas exploded,
Forests cut and soils eroded.
Wells are dry and air’s polluted,
Dust is blowing, trees uprooted,
Oil is going, ores depleted,
Drains receive what is excreted.
Land is sinking, seas are rising,
Man is far too enterprising.
Fire will rage with Man to fan it,
Soon we’ll have a plundered planet.
People breed like fertile rabbits,
People have disgusting habits.

The evolutionary plan
Went astray by evolving Man.

(Douglas Adams agreed with that moral.)

Soylent pink?

I also discovered that seventy years before Malthus’ book, Jonathan Swift had a different solution to the problem of overpopulation. A Modest Proposal starts with grim descriptions of extreme poverty and hunger in Ireland:
It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms… [and] women murdering their bastard children.”

A particular problem is that children are an expense for years before their parents can get any return on the investment they can’t afford in the first place:
I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl, before twelve years old, is no saleable commodity.

After such concern, his “modest” proposal is a total shock, and would have been even more so to 18th century readers unused to deadpan satire:
A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasee, or a ragoust.

Image: Dinner! (Source.)

He goes into great detail, not just culinary, but about the practicalities of the trade. He indirectly mocks his own suggestion by saying the only possible objection anyone might have is that it would reduce the population, which, he points out, is his intention. And just in case readers can’t think of any better solutions, such as raising taxes, controlling rents, buying local products, he lists them (supposedly to dismiss them).

But we’re still here

(I hope that writing that during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic isn’t tempting fate.)

When I was reading Swift and Malthus a couple of centuries after they were written, there was certainly poverty and hunger around the world, even in England, and the Chinese One-child policy was being strictly enforced. Malthusianism hadn’t gone away, but it hadn’t entirely come true either. I had no immediate fears of starvation or even poverty.

Why was this, I wondered? Kenneth Boulding had an answer:

The Technologist’s Reply

Man’s potential is quite terrific,
You can’t go back to the Neolithic.
The cream is there for us to skim it,
Knowledge is power, and the sky’s the limit.
Every mouth has hands to feed it,
Food is found when people need it.
All we need is found in granite
Once we have the men to plan it.
Yeast and algae give us meat,
Soil is almost obsolete.
Men can grow to pastures greener
Till all the earth is Pasadena.

Man’s a nuisance, Man’s a crackpot.
But only Man can hit the jackpot.

Back then, I was firmly with the optimistic technologist.

As a cynical middle-aged adult in a country torn by Brexit and ravaged by a global pandemic, I think both poems miss the crucial social-political aspects, and the fact that humans are not omnipotent.

Science has certainly helped, but it's not all positive:
* Crops and livestock have higher yields and are more resistant to disease - but there are risks from GM and antibiotic resistance.
* Land that was unsuitable for farming, can now be used - but irrigation in one place leaves others barren.
* Machines work faster than people - so some lose their jobs.
* Packaging and chilling reduce damage - and yet waste increases.
* Efficiency increases in many spheres - but that increases demand, so resources are used up faster (Jevons paradox).
* Technological advances benefit the rich more than the poor.

And we could all be wiped out by a virus. Cheers!

Image: Optimist, pessimist, realist, opportunist (Source.)


You can read Swift and Malthus, free on Gutenberg:
* A Modest Proposal, HERE
* An Essay on the Principle of Population, HERE.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,109 reviews44.3k followers
February 22, 2016
This made me laugh so much. It’s just so brilliantly funny. Swift adopts a very serious tone, and an authoritative voice, that almost sounds real. He delivers his proposal in such a hilariously cold way that embodies a dejected government official. I could imagine him writing this whilst struggling to keep a straight face as he mocks the English law makers.

The rich looked down upon the poor and saw them as a deplorable sub species of human, which is rather ironic because without poverty there wouldn’t be any riches for them. They were heartless and unempathetic to their fellow man. This was even more so in regard to the Irish. The social policy was terrible, and in his proposal Swift satirises it perfectly. He suggests that the in order to control the population, the Irish beggars should eat their own children:

"I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for the landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children."


He delivers facts and figures whilst contemplating breeding strategies that monitor population growth. In this, Swift delivers a wonderfully ironic argument that is just so damn funny. I would love to have been alive in this period because I would have found it even funnier. Well, unless I was one of the beggars because then I’d be starving or unless I was a lord because then I’d look like a complete idiot. Swift is such a comic genius.

Penguin Little Black Classic- 08


The Little Black Classic Collection by penguin looks like it contains lots of hidden gems. I couldn’t help it; they looked so good that I went and bought them all. I shall post a short review after reading each one. No doubt it will take me several months to get through all of them! Hopefully I will find some classic authors, from across the ages, that I may not have come across had I not bought this collection.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book834 followers
June 26, 2019
The famous satirist, author of Gulliver's Travels, wrote several political texts vituperating against the hopeless condition of his native Ireland and the ineptitude of its British rulers (thank God, things have much improved since!). This short volume includes a few of these texts. In one of them, Swift compares man to a broomstick, a glorious animal turned upside-down and defeated; in another, he gives a list of conditions that make a country prosperous and goes on to demonstrate that Ireland meets practically none; in another still, he vilifies some of the customs in use at the time in Dublin, like town crying, leaving piles of excrements on the pavement and so on.

“A Modest Proposal”, which gives this volume its title, is another of these polemical texts, where Swift uses a straight-faced, shocking humour (something that might not pass the censorship of political correctness today), advocating that poor people’s children, instead of being mouths to feed, should be sold to the butcher and “stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout”, for the enjoyment of the rich people of Dublin... I am just wondering why he left out sautéing, frying and braising à la Matignon...

All this is written in jest of course, but when you get ten pages of this sustained cannibalistic sarcasm, the laughter becomes quite sour indeed. The fact that Tertullian’s Apology might have inspired this text does not come as a surprise. The problems raised by Swift are still topical and, with a bit of imagination, his lampoon could become, for our time, a vindication of vegetarianism or a blueprint for some dystopian novel.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,922 reviews35.4k followers
March 21, 2016
One book leads to another....
After listening to the audiobook "Food: A Love Story", by Jim Gaffigan...a hilarious walking companion...
I quoted a Bizzarre Line from Jim..."Maybe All Americans should just eat starving people from other nations"....
my mind went elsewhere with that line ( the complete opposite with Jim... but laughed anyway)....

So....getting a little more serious --
During the comments *Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)*, asked me if I had read/listened to Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal". I hadn't!

Doing a little research about the 'very short' satire...I first downloaded it on my Kindle for 'free' and read it...
Still interested ...I downloaded the audiobook ...and listened to it

The idea 'behind' "A Modest Proposal" starts with a much deeper profound purpose than Gaffigan's "Food", book. Sure, Gaffigan may had hit the button on a political- social issue with is 'eating starving people from nations', -- by accident... But Jim wrote about Food ... primarily because he likes to eat. It's a topic he knows about, and he's a comedian.

Jonathan Swift had a clear intention with this 'tongue-and-cheek' ....( hilarious and somewhat repulsive), satire. His short story was definitely a Political and social issue satire. This book was first published in 1789. There were many starving and poor people in Ireland.
Reading & listening to this small satire gave me a deeper appreciation for St. Patrick's day which was just celebrated a few days ago.
Irish people were living in villages owned by wealthy English landowners..and for years lived under the power of The English Parliament. Swift set out to address the serious issue of poverty.
His 'modest' proposal was to eat useless babies ...( by his calculations there were about 120 thousand)... which would help curb the population growth.
Swift's imagination of profits and benefits, ( for wealthy England), from the Irish babies skin --( ladies gloves - men's boots)...was so creepy. .... It was all creepy ... with the
undertone being a very sad time in history.

Given how absurd this 'entire' story is -- I can only conclude Swift was pointing out the obvious ridiculousness ----people were fighting over land, money, and religion...when people were 'starving'. The modest proposal wasn't 'modest' at all... It was an earthquake ... Hoping to wake people up and move people into more humane actions.
Profile Image for James.
Author 18 books3,536 followers
November 19, 2017
Book Review
A Modest Proposal is a satirical work of fiction by Jonathan Swift, written nearly 300 years ago. It is an Irish piece, originally published anonymously, but served as a way to shove stupidity in the face of the English government and wealthy. Essentially, in order to solve the problem of poverty, people should eat their children. But it was written in a very serious manner, as though it were meant to be real suggestions. Ahead of its time, it propelled Swift to the forefront of both English literature and the 18th century collection of masterpieces.

Although not very long (under 50 pages), the language is a bit outdated and requires a few translations to understand what he meant back during that period of time. The humor is undeniable. The time he took to create a solution for every aspect of the problem, as well as provide counter points, is incredibly delicious -- pun intended! Though a bit too absurd, even for me, it's still one of those parts of our English courses we all enjoy reading. It's hilarious to a 15-year old, who may not know all the different parts of history or the way in which governmental red-tape can work. Find a few pages online after perusing this review... just sample some of the words and phrases he used. It may push you into reading the whole thing!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books889 followers
December 11, 2022
"A Modest Proposal" is a masterpiece of rhetoric and wit. It's studied at every level of education, from High School to PhD, for its social context and satirical arguments. We know it's brilliant because we've been told so, but one hopes we wouldn't need a teacher to explain why the short essay should be admired.

But what if we didn't have someone to explain the context? What if this essay had been given schlock cover art and shelved in the horror section?

As someone who loves horror literature, I think about "A Modest Proposal" a lot. Technically, it's quite gory. The text advocates for the consumption of human children, with very specific details about how to eat them. "I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs," writes Swift. He also notes that "a young healthy child, well nursed, is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled."

Again, if such a work were shelved in the horror section, it would be deemed violent trash. But it's not shelved there. It's placed in textbooks and with the classics because its message is NOT actually an advocacy for eating children. Swift uses hyperbolic language to send a very important message, which is that when society cares so little for its impoverished citizens, it can seem as heartless as eating children alive or sewing their flesh into winter boots for the wealthy.

Swift's genius articulation is worthy of its praise, but other great works of literature HAVE been placed in the horror section and are often ignored for their brilliant social commentary. Indeed, analyzing the darkest aspects of the world often requires writing from a villain point of view. Sometimes gore is needed to demonstrate the scope of injustices. Sometimes shock can finally get people's attention. That often means writing stories which are uncomfortable, even horrifying.

The most moral books I've ever read have also been the most graphic. But because of stigmas around genre, many will never find that messaging because they don't think it can exist in certain types of art. This is a shame. Free your mind. Read more horror.
Profile Image for Mark .
369 reviews302 followers
August 12, 2020
A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift was a total surprise.

I came to this short book/essay (40 pages) not knowing what it was about and not knowing anything about the author.

First things first…………. I needed to read the initial pages a few times over to get used to the style of writing. Once that was done, I was sorted.

Next – Whhhhhooooooaaaaaa!!!!! Eating babies????

I didn’t expect that at all, then I just laughed – what a hideous suggestion!!

His preposterous proposal involves selling ‘plump’ breast-fed babies at 12 months of age (one presumes the 12 mth investment would only be a couple of shillings) to rich people who can cook them in a variety of ways, thus enhancing their status in society – cooking and eating such expensive delicacies. Swift even proceeds to describe 4 methods of cooking – as one baby could provide food over a four-day period. A bit like a turkey I suppose.

He even is specific enough to state actual numbers of babies to be used. Around 120,000 he reckons. We can save 20,000 for breeding (a quarter of which need to be males) and the other 100,000 to be butchered. The skins can even be used for gloves and the like.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading!! I mean, not even Monty Python went this far, and swift was kicking goals back in the 1700s. Amazing.

It’s only after a while I realised, he is not trying to be deliberately gross or funny, he is making a point, or many points.

Swift has an axe to grind about many aspects of society – he takes shots at the rich, landowners, the English (join the club), Catholics (ditto), the poor, even the parents of these hapless babies.

By the way, he does consider farming older kids, in their teens – but this meat would be more like venison, a bit tougher and not as delicious. Swift even convinced me, babies would be more pleasing to the palate. It makes me uncomfortable to even admit that, but his writing is so clever he grabs you and whizzes you around and you start ‘getting’ some of his arguments.

This essay gave me great reason to do some more reading about Swift – he is described as a Juvenalian satirist. These guys criticise establishments and certain people with ironic criticism, moral indignation, personal invective and pessimism. He does this masterfully in this essay and quite dispassionately – I think. Presenting an unfathomable notion as if he was describing the weather.

At the end of the essay – I just sat there thinking “what a ride”. This piece is really a criticism of society at that (and this?) time.

Satire – bring it on.

I am already a Swift Fan and am looking forward to reading is 1712 piece titled An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity. I also want to know more about this man.

5 brilliant stars
Profile Image for Scribble Orca.
213 reviews371 followers
March 7, 2015
Goodreaders, my Friends, “…who peruse this [Review], Be not offended, whilst on it you [chew]: Denude yourselves of all depraved affection, For it contains no badness, nor infection: 'Tis true that it brings forth to you no birth Of any value, but in point of mirth; Thinking therefore how sorrow might your mind Consume, I could no [more] apt subject find; One [plume] of joy surmounts of grief a [duration]; Because to laugh is proper to the [rational person].”–Rabelais
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,685 followers
September 13, 2011
there is no better way to kick off a semester of literature than a modest proposal. one smart ass student always tries to derail the conversation with an early declaration of the proposal’s satire, but no one listens, and within moments i have a class of fifty - sixty students angry, frustrated, and sometimes rabid as i take swift’s ironic side and ask the students, with all the seriousness i can muster (which is quite a bit), if we shouldn’t give it a try? i follow that up with “why not?” after “why not?” then smack them upside the head with their universal humanist superiority complex, and force them to think. it’s so new to them they leave hating me or loving me. but they do leave thinking. poor bastards. except that one mormon in the front row. he never leaves thinking anything other than how superior he is. and what a dipshit i am.
Profile Image for Praveen.
148 reviews279 followers
January 15, 2020
Recently I read Gogol and out of curiosity, in a process of unearthing some important name in that satirical zone from the past greats, I got a recommendation of reading Swift. Actually I was having an eye on the A Tale of a Tub, but this title just jumped in between and I began with this due to its short length.

First time... Jonathan Swift.

This title is again quite deceptive. This proposal was everything but modest. This should have been called 'An inhumane proposal' or 'An inexorable proposal' indeed. I can understand that this piece of work is a satire on a major issue of poverty and atrocity of rich or rulers of that era, yet I feel there was a huge dearth of sensitivity there on the part of the author.

Leaving aside the pathos of that idea that one should sell one's newborn baby to the meat market, after one year of bountiful nourishment so that it's flesh becomes tastier and will be consumed by the rich and will yield a good chunk of money to their poor parents. I feel the way it has been written is quite nutty.

When the author observes in the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants, who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes. He gives such a proposal to the authorities. He gives statistical data on how it will benefit the economy, empower the women and overall remove poverty.

The author has made caustic remarks. His tone is very unemotional as if he has no heart at all. He talked cruelly and talked about resolving the issue in a very insensitive way. But He must get high points from the reader for the way he has written it, maintaining the art and skill required in a farce to give a message in a very blunt and intense style.
Profile Image for Florencia.
649 reviews1,898 followers
January 15, 2018
This review includes sensitive material that may be upsetting to some friends.

Jan 04, 16
* Also on my blog.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,911 followers
November 19, 2015
I continue to think that this supremely logical and inevitably practical work will become a part of American legislation any day now. You know, right after the FEMA camps have a permanent place in the common zeitgeist. Anyone want a potato?

Update 11/19/15:

It occurs to me that someone ought to write a cookbook to expound upon this most excellent suggestion. Any takers? Julia Childs? Hannibal Lector? Rush Limbaugh?

So many excellent suggestions, I know, I know.
Profile Image for Dylan Williams.
86 reviews557 followers
April 17, 2015
Profile Image for Lynne King.
489 reviews652 followers
May 23, 2013
I came across this essay via Scribble's review and read it in no time. I thought it would be light reading and it turned out to be something completely different. Satire at its best from Mr Swift.

I read this in the dentist's waiting room this morning and it certainly waylaid my normal fear of going there.

The author has come up with a "modest" (nothing modest here) proposal to aid the Irish economy, stop the begging, give mothers (the breeders) the opportunity to get an income by selling their little children and also the delicate meat will be in competition with pigs. I wonder if human flesh is salty? Perhaps I should go and talk to the cannibals on Borneo or other similar countries?

Imagine having a child of around a year in age, all prepared and ready to be cooked, then eaten. I wonder if they need to be marinated first in wine?

I was particularly taken with:

"I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled; and I have no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or a ragoust."

Queer spelling but it was, after all, written in 1729.

Everyone should read it and will understand the Irish humour and satire, if not already known.

A delicious, light but yet thought-provoking book on the never-ceasing wonders of the imagination.
Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews398 followers
February 13, 2016
This essay is what's known in English writing as "straight-faced" satire. Well, it's just a little too straight-faced for me. Swift's extended ironic rambling suggest's using Irish children as a food source to solve the problem of the down-trodden masses. It eliminates 100 thousand children from extended suffering, provides an income source for their poor parents, and provides table fare for the upper society. Swift was extremely aggravated with the Irish political system, the English class system, and the lack of desire by the lower classes to improve their position. It certainly makes his point well enough, just not in a very tasteful manner.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,671 followers
March 5, 2018
"Thus we are zealous in Matters of small Moment, while we neglect those those of highest Importance."
- Jonathan Swift, "An Examination of Certain Abuses, Corruptions, and Enormities"


Vol 8 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. It contains a couple small tracts, as well as a poem and a couple larger satirical essays:

1. Meditation on a Broomstick - 1711/Satire
2. A Description of a City-Shower - 1710/Poem
3. A Short View of the State of Ireland - 1727/Pamphlet
4. A Modest Proposal - 1729/Satire
5. An Examination of Certain Abuses, Corruptions, and Enormities - 1732/Satire

It is hard to not think of Swift when I read the Onion, or McSweeney's, or variations and complications of political satire. He was the master we all look towards, even if we don't know it. I remember being surprised to find myself accidentally in front of his grave inside St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. Felt ropes keep the dirty masses from tramping over the Godfather of Satire, marked with this poem:

'Here is laid the body of
Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Divinity,
Dean of this cathedral Church,
Where fierce indignation can no longer
Rend his heart.
Go, traveller, and imitate if you can
This earnest and dedicated
Champion of Liberty'


He gave the little wealth he had,
To build a house for fools and mad:
And show'd by one satiric touch,
No nation wanted it so much:
That kingdom he hath left his debtor,
I wish it soon may have a better.

- From Verses On The Death of Dr Swift
Profile Image for Liz Janet.
582 reviews381 followers
August 25, 2016







True Satire.

Update February 2016
The best satirical work I think I have ever read. It is basically about how to end hunger by eating children during the eighteenth century Ireland. His main point is that there are too many people in Ireland, particularly children whose parents cannot take care of them, and therefore do not contribute anything towards the community, hence :"a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or aragout." He then proceeds to burn the landlords that mistreat their servants and the people under their care: "I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children." This is a work that can be analyzed even more, sadly I do not feel like I can add anything that has not already been contributed, but please give this a read, do not even worry about anything else on this book, the titular tale is more important. 
Profile Image for Paula Mota.
930 reviews277 followers
March 16, 2020

"A young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout."

Fiquei ligeiramente chocada e nauseada com esta “Proposta Modesta” de Jonathan Swift para “evitar que os filhos dos pobres na Irlanda se convertam num fardo para os seus pais ou para o país”, mesmo sabendo que era um autor satírico, o que me levou a verificar a data em que foi escrita. 1729.
Sendo irlandês de nascença, Swift propõe que, para acabar com os inúmeros pedintes que se fazem acompanhar por várias crianças, que mais tarde, por sua vez, se tornarão pedintes e ladrões, os pais simplesmente os vendam com um ano de idade para servirem de refeição aos ricos. É uma sátira elevada ao absurdo, muitíssimo bem explanada como se de um plano sério se tratasse, enumerando várias vantagens, como ser uma fonte de rendimento para os católicos pobres poderem pagar aos senhorios protestantes, ou ser um produto nacional que pode ser exportado, ou fortalecer os laços entre os membros da família:
“Men would become as fond of their wives during the time of their pregnancy as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, their sows when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage."
Confirmo: 1729.
Para rematar, só posso dizer que, se Swift tivesse nascido dois séculos depois, poderia ter sido um excelente guionista dos Monty Python.
Profile Image for Anthony Vacca.
423 reviews278 followers
August 11, 2016
Here’s a quick and easy recipe for roasted young “long pig” that is guaranteed to save a few bucks come the next last-minute dinner with friends or family:

What You Will Need
Butcher knife
Olive oil or butter
Seasonings (I have a soft spot for a pinch of Ambergris, a touch of Wattleseed, and a dash of Spanish Fly)
Roasting pan

Step 1
Trim away the end of the neck, and the end of each leg from the "knee" joint downwards. This is usually only necessary with wild-caught “long pig” because, if farmed, than it is sold trimmed for market.

Step 2
Remove any internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, intestines or any other organs that might be left inside the body cavity. Rub the body lightly over both its inner and outer surfaces with olive oil or melted butter, and then season it with salt and pepper. If your recipe calls for additional herbs or spices, rub or sprinkle them over the rabbit at this stage.

Step 3
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place in the roasting pan on its side, without a rack. Young “long pig” is too lean for the drippings to be fatty, and any juices that cook out will help keep the underside moist.

Step 4
Baste every 20 to 30 minutes with more oil or butter to help keep it from drying out. Turn it after 45 minutes, if you wish, to ensure even cooking.

Step 5
Roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 F, when tested by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The entire process will take approximately 90 minutes with a market-weight of 10-12 pounds.

Tender “long pig” can also be roasted at 425 F for 20 to 25 minutes, giving it a chewier texture but a richer flavor.
Many traditional recipes call for roasted “long pig” to be "barded," or covered with thin sheets of protective fat. This can be thinly-sliced pork back fat or lacy sheets of caul fat, but bacon is easier to find and works well. If a smoky bacon flavor is inappropriate in your dish, ask the butcher to sell you thinly-sliced uncured pork belly instead.

The braising liquid can be reduced to concentrate its flavors, then thickened to make a sauce for your rabbit.

The FSA's Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends cooking all game animals to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize the risk of trichinosis and other foodborne illnesses. This is especially crucial with wild-caught infants.
Profile Image for Matt.
752 reviews517 followers
June 18, 2015

This proposal made by J. Swift for combating poverty and overpopulation is as simple as it is ingenious.

But that's the problem with simple and ingenious ideas: There must be someone to find them. Swift was a far-sighted visionary. Although expressed at the end of the 18th century the solutions depicted in his text are still relevant to modern society. I am sure some grave problems of today would be fairly easy to solve. With only some slight modifications to Swift's proposal hunger and poverty would disappear almost overnight! Or the increasingly pressing problem of refugees pulling into Europe? Solvable! Someone should make an entry in Brussels, or give the parliamentarians there this highly topical essay to read. It will surely find a lobby.

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Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book463 followers
June 8, 2020
Finally found the quiet time to read this again. Written in response to a very real problem, the poverty and starvation in 1729 Ireland, Jonathan Swift puts forth a shocking proposal for a solution that will make you laugh and also cry. Sometimes to make people listen you have to outrage them, and this piece of satire was Swift's last resort--an attempt to make people look in the mirror and see themselves as part of the problem. I remember this being taught to me in high school as the perfect illustration of satire and irony. I'm pretty sure it still holds first place.

With thanks to my GR friend, Tamar, I have come back again to include a reading of this essay by Sir Alec Guinness, and having listened to it, revise my rating to a solid 5-stars.

Sir Alec reads Swift
Profile Image for Labijose.
941 reviews401 followers
September 12, 2018
En mi reciente visita a Dublín visité la catedral de Saint Patrick, en donde Jonathan Swift ejerció de decano, y donde también está enterrado. A través de un guía local conocí los pormenores de la vida del escritor, merecedora de una buena biografía, pero lo que más me sorprendió fue el descubrimiento que la guía me hizo sobre su ensayo satírico, “Una modesta proposición” (1729), ¡donde ironiza con la idea de que los campesinos deberían vender a sus hijos a los terratenientes a fin de que estos se los coman!! Dicha ironía y humor negro no fue muy bien acogida en la época por sus contemporáneos, cuando lo que realmente pretendía Swift era poner en evidencia las condiciones lamentables de los campesinos y gente de clase baja de la Irlanda que le tocó vivir. Especialmente le molestaba el maltrato con que los protestantes trataban a los católicos, haciéndoles la vida imposible, y lo poco que estos se rebelaban contra tales injusticias.
El ensayo es corto, se lee en poco más de una hora, pero no tiene desperdicio. Eso sí, antes de leerlo, debes cambiar el chip para ponerte en modo humor macabro, so pena de acabar asqueado. Hecho esto, disfrutarás de una lectura llena de una sátira pionera en su época. Baste para ello adjuntar esta breve cita.

“…therefore, one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune, through the kingdom, always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump, and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.”

Un poco macabro, no? ; )

Como ejemplo de que el autor estaba muy comprometido con el bienestar social de sus conciudadanos, en su testamento donó terrenos, dinero y planos para construir un manicomio con jardín, algo hasta entonces desconocido por aquellos pagos.

Profile Image for M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews.
4,030 reviews329 followers
October 18, 2019
Even some 300 years after the publication of this story, it still rings true in today's world, and is very much relevant, which makes this short work of satire a true success. It might only have been meant as a work of satire, but the fact that the solution he offers is practical - if not ethical - is thought-provoking and he addresses some of the ills - ills that exist even in the 21st century - that brought about the need for such a solution.
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