Tag Archives: Jonathan Swift

Swift’s April Fools Broomstick Joke

The all time master of the April Fools joke was Jonathan Swift. Here’s one of his lesser ones where he draws deep philosophical by meditating on a broomstick.

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Gulliver, Recommended for Scientists

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s favorite book to recommend is not a book of science but Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels.” This shows him to be a very wise man.

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Jonathan Swift, Master of Fake News

Fake news, which played a role in the 2016 election, may have become particularly sophisticated, but satirists have been creating fake news since at least the days of Jonathan Swift. Take, for instance, Swift’s “The Last Speech and Dying Words of Ebenezer Elliston,” which supposedly lowered the crime rate but which, for that reason, is problematic.

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Dying of a Broken Heart

Two 18th century items: Henry Fielding believed that it was possible to die from a broken heart, which some speculate explains actress Debbie Reynolds’s death after her daughter Carrie Fisher died. And prankster Jonathan Swift has a characteristic list of New Year’s resolutions.

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If Swift Had Known Donald Trump…

Jonathan Swift would have had a field day with Donald Trump. I suspect I’ll say this often in the upcoming years.

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Jon Stewart Resembled Jonathan Swift

Jon Stewart stepped down from “The Daily Show” just over a year ago. At the time, he was our Jonathan Swift and, like Swift, he was not afraid to satirize satire itself when it became too puffed up.

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The Rich Complain about Shaming

Some wealthy Americans are receiving therapy to make them feel better about their riches. Swift would have something to say about this, as would F. Scott Fitzgerald and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

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Trump, Prince Vasili, and Pure Cynicism

Prince Vasili in “War and Peace” will say anything to come out on top. He’s a lot like Donald Trump.

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Can Lit Help Build an Egalitarian World?

Neo-Marxist literary theory calls for us to see literature as relevant to building an egalitarian society.

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Trump as Frankenstein’s Monster

What is it about Donald Trump that brings out the literary analogies? First a Salon columnist compared him to Odysseus’s Cyclops, then the New Yorker’s John Cassidy saw him as Gulliver, and most recently Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and others have compared him to Frankenstein’s monster. I’ve written about the Cyclops parallel here, but let’s take […]

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Can Lit Make the Rich More Empathetic?

With growing income disparity comes a decline in empathy. Literature can help rebuild our compassion.

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GOP Denies a Giant Problem

Faced with climate change denialism, Obama has been forced to take executive action. Jonathan Swift would understand.

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Meditation upon a Broom (April Fool!)

Swift’s “Meditation on a Broomstick” could well have been an April Fool’s joke.

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A Modest Proposal for Shooting Students

Reacting against a proposal to allow guns on Idaho campuses, an Idaho professor has come up with a modest proposal of his own.

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Stewart Should Learn from Jonathan Swift

Jon Stewart may be one of our leading satirists, but satire comes up short in handling this country’s healthcare crisis.

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Depressing News? Read Gulliver

If you ever feel that humans are nothing more than Yahoos, Swift urges us to remember that there are good Samaritans amongst us.

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Swift and Food Stamp Cuts

What would Jonathan Swift say to GOP radicals who seek to cut food stamps.

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Getting Tied Down in Syria

Is there a danger that U.S. involvement in Syria will lead to a Gulliver-like disaster?

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God Does Not Leave Us Comfortless

As my father struggles to retain his memory, I think of Jonathan Swift.

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Swift’s Spectacular April Fool’s Joke

Jonathan Swift Bickerstaff papers are the ultimate satiric attack on astrology.

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Only Comic Satire Can Do NRA Justice

It takes a Joseph Heller or a Jonathan Swift to capture the craziness of the NRA.

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If They Lose, Irish Can Turn to Poetry

Even if they lose the national championship game, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame have Ireland’s poetic legacy to fall back on.

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The NRA’s Modest Proposal

The NRA’s call for armed guards in every school sounds like Swift’s “Modest Proposal”–only the NRA is serious.

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Analyzing Loughner’s Booklist

Like much of America, I am still in a state of shock over Saturday’s shooting of a Congresswoman, a judge, and 16 others. Like many I wonder if this was an example of a disturbed mind encountering the inflamed political rhetoric that has come to characterize American political discourse. (Add Arizona’s permissive gun laws into […]

Posted in Aesop, Barrie (J. M.), Baum (L. Frank), Bradbury (Ray), Bukowski (Charles), Carroll (Lewis), Hemingway (Ernest), Hesse (Hermann), Hitler (Adolph), Homer, Huxley (Aldous), Juster (Norton(, Kesey (Ken), Lee (Harper), Orwell (George), Plato, Rand (Ayn) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Obama, Idealist or Realist?

2010 in Review There was an interesting dust-up last week amongst conservative intellectuals following the release of some more Richard Nixon tapes. Henry Kissinger can be heard making the following cold-blooded remark about Soviet Jews in 1973: “Let’s face it: The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign […]

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Laura Ingraham Is No Jonathan Swift

Since I wrote about Swiftian satire yesterday, I was interested when a current political satirist was contrasted with Swift in yesterday’s Washington Post. Laura Ingraham has a new book out which purports to be the secret diaries of Bo, the White House dog.  In his review Steven Levingston concludes that, while the book is sometimes […]

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Mothers “Dropping” Babies?!

First, congratulations to Elena Kagan for being the fourth woman chosen to the U. S. Supreme Court. I have written about Kagan’s love for Pride and Prejudice here, as well as the reasons why, given a choice, it’s better to have a Pride and Prejudice lover than a Wuthering Heights lover on the Court (click […]

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The Poetry of Spanish Soccer

The incomparable Xavi  Sports Saturday Spanish sports is having a great year. First of all, Spanish forward Pau Gasol was a major reason why the Los Angeles Lakers won their 16th championship in an archetypal series against the Boston Celtics. Then we were officially ushered from the Age of Federer into the Age of Nadal […]

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Emily Dickinson’s Deathbed Fly

Okay, here is a second post on poems about small winged pests, written in honor of President Obama’s cool and cold-blooded killing of a fly. When I was a child, I used to enjoy the poem about “the funny old lady who swallowed a fly.” It is one of those repetition poems, with a new […]

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Bush, Obama, and Gulliver’s Travels

I return for one last time to Swift, who provides invaluable perspectives for understanding contemporary politics. Swift was a shrewd student of political dynamics. His satire is often an allegorical depiction of real life people and incidents, and if one knows one’s history, one can read parts of Gulliver’s Travels as a roman à clé, […]

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Can Satire Change Lives?

  For a website devoted to whether and how literature can change lives, satire presents a special case. That’s because satire seems to have changing lives as its goal. Because of this apparent agenda, it fell out of favor with the high culture crowd in the heyday of the New Criticism.  The New Critics, who […]

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