A Tale of a Tub

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Press: Serenity Publishers, LLC (June 29, 2011)
Author Name:Swift, Jonathan


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About the Author

Anglo-Irish poet, satirist and clergyman, Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), was born in Dublin to English parents. 
He published many satirical works of verse and prose, including 'A Tale of a Tub', 'A Modest Proposal', and 'Gulliver's Travels'.
Robert DeMaria, Jr.
is Henry Noble MacCracken Professor of English at Vassar College, New York.
He has published widely on 17th and 18th century literature.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Literature & Fiction,Genre Fiction,Satire,Humor & Entertainment,Humor,Humor & Satire

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Comment List (Total:11)

  •     Difficult to get into even though I am familiar with that period of Literature.Will give it a go again.
  •     The Tale of a Tub, a short book, was written by Swift to satirise and parody the poor quality and standard of writing at the beginning of the eighteenth century, religion in its diverse forms, with particular criticism of the more extremist Protestant groups of the time. The book takes the form of a story of three brothers, representing three religions, the papists, the Church of England and puritans and other extreme forms of Protestantism and how each uses their father's inheritance. There are numerous introductions, prefaces, digressions and asides as well as the narrative of the three brothers. In fact the narrative is probably less than half the book. The book was also written as part of an intellectual argument on the worth of ancient knowledge and writing ie Greek, Roman classical compared to modern. While Swift was defending the classics, he has written a modern book which can be seen as a precursor to other modern literature. This is #14 in 1001 books you must read before you die.
  •     I need a guide for the satirically perplexed. In the introduction to this guide, I need it explained to me why satire needs to be couched in metaphor. Along with this explanation, I need some sort of legend that shows me what each allegory means - and every time the allegory is mentioned, it needs to be footnoted again, because I can't keep track of it all in my head. The digressions and preachings were jarring and confusing as well. I had no idea what was going on, or what the author was trying to say, but it was short, so it's over.
  •     Pleased.
  •     Known for his satire, Jonathan Swift is not for the light reader. This small Novella is a beast and I personally think his worst peice of writing.
  •     There is something empowering about panning an official classic author. I tend to buy into the `western canon" but this is substandard writing. The young Swift is given to very long build ups, and weak delivery. The satire lacks bite instead giving rather stock jabs and it appears that Swift got bored with his own major plot.The tub of the title refers to a tradition I suspect invented by Swift, that whalers would toss a tub into the water in an effort to distract the whale and keep it from attacking the larger ship. The meaning of this invention would seem to be that writers, or at least Swift will toss in various distractions intended to misdirect the reader. It is unclear if this is a condemnation of the reader or a salute to the writer, or as Swift will tend to refer the "wit' of the writer.The basic structure of the book is actuating sections reading as or labels as introductions and then the main plot story. There are more than one introductions to the story including a rather clever appeal for royal patronage. It is deliberately exaggerated and includes some hope for a satirical book. One of the better arguments for the particular value of the patronage he is petitioning is that the author has surveyed many artists, all of home place themselves as the best judge of art and the unnamed patron as th second best. Swift concludes that being second must mean that you are first. Least you cast this method of analysis aside, it was a very similar argument , made long after Swift, that would clinch the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination for a relatively unknown candidate, Abraham Lincoln.The story inserted between the upcoming parades of introductions is a relatively flat satire based on a father who leaves as his legacy a fine coat to each of his three sons. The father is clearly meant to be read as God and the Sons the original Catholic Church, the Lutheran Protestants and the Church of England. There is a great deal of talk about salves and treatments and exclusive rights to sell such. By the end of the satire, Swift is merely listing the various religious wars and court intrigues over which would be the favored religion in England. Clearly Swift is too bored with his own invention or in a rush to publish.Among the chapter introduction is at least one almost clever theory that uses the medical language of the day to indicate that those folks we would label as being `Full of S**T" as suffering from an unrelieved quantity of vapors originating from the lower areas. So not just gas bags, but melodious ones.Getting to the rare punch lines involves shoveling through a particularly ponderous writing style. I want to believe this is deliberate, meaning another satirical jab directed at the style of his time. Mostly it is just words to no purpose and with no humor.If you read A Tale of a Tub, perhaps as assigned reading the foot notes will aid comprehension. If you goal is to read Swift books from many parts of his career, that is about the only reason to voluntarily read this book. For the rest, please do not judge Johnathan Swift by A Tale of the Tub.
  •     He wrote this under an assumed name and later it was changed because it is a religious treatise disguised as the simple fable of three brothers.
  •     It was a fast read. Not really one of favorites. Didn't quite get a lot of it. Not sure what the title had to do with the book.
  •     Reading the editor's explanations and footNotes first make the satire more clear.Unfortunately they are lumped together atthe end of the Kindle version, not at the.bottom of each page,making it cumbersome.
  •     Like all of Swift's stories this one is built on a brilliant allegorical tale. It is the story of three bothers ( each representing a particular Christian church) receiving as a legacy from their father, a perfect but simple coat ( scripture) with instructions that they will be happy in life if they follow their father's will and leave their coat's unchanged. All three men Peter ( the Catholic Church), Jack ( Puritanism) and Martin ( the Anglican Church) begin in obedience but are eventually led to abandon the terms of the will in pursuit of Money, Pride and Ambition here portrayed as desirable women ( I'm sure modern feminists now see it as another myth from a "dead white guy")Eventually the fall from grace is compounded by a desire to gain followers by adjusting doctrine to suit people's desires rather than God's, all the while hypocritically justifying each change through their authority as church leaders..I recommend reading this old tale for its sheer wit and invention while, at the same time, cautioning readers that it is a times tough going. Swift liked to go off on lengthy tangents to satirize practices the modern reader just doesn't recognize. In that sense, it can be frustrating. My advice is to skim those parts until you can return to the basic story. Better yet, if you can find an abridged version, go with that.
  •     It's interesting that in many of these reviews, the writers are critiquing Swift's ability as a writer or a satirist -- as if the question of his quality as a writer were up for debate. People give the work a low rating because they find the prose difficult to read. I'll just note that Swift considered Tale of a Tub as the greatest achievement of his illustrious career. That's good enough for me -- and for 99 percent of the serious and schooled readers of English literature. (Oh, and, of course, the most important point is that Tale of a Tub is absolutely hilarious.)

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