Tag Archives: Jonathan Swift

Swift on the Separation of Powers

Wednesday As Donald Trump seeks to neuter Congress while at the same time welcoming autocrats to the White House, we find ourselves praying that Democrats, NeverTrumpers, and others who love our Constitution can successfully push back. It’s a battle we see dramatized in Gulliver’s account of the flying island. The executive power in this instance […]

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Why Tyrants Hate Laughter

Tuesday In a recent essay on Arthur Koestler’s theory of comedy, the New York Review of Books’ Liesl Schillinger cites a passage from Koestler’s Darkness at Noon to explain Donald Trump’s attacks on Saturday Night Live. In his fictional account of Stalin’s show trials, Koestler shows that authoritarian personalities lack a sense of humor. Loyal […]

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Onward He Came, & April Was His Name

Monday – April Fools Day For reasons I can’t explain, 18th century Britain was into April Fools Day. Jonathan Swift in particular loved the occasion and produced some of the great literary pranks in history. (See the links below.) Today, however, I present the work of one William Combe, who in 1777 wrote The First […]

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John Wilmot Sums Up Current GOP

Thursday One of the interchanges in Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Investigation Committee yesterday jumped out at me because it had such an 18th century flavor to it. Kentucky Republican James Comer, seeking to undermine Cohen, challenged him with the following: Comer: “You called Trump a cheat. What would you call yourself?” […]

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In Praise of Literary Biography

I share a discussion I had with John Stubbs, author of riveting biographies on Swift, Donne, and the cavalier poets.

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Imagining the Poor as Breeders

Donald Trump has been using words like “infest” and “breeding” to dehumanize people of color. Swift’s Modest Proposer does the same.

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The GOP and Trump’s Modest Proposals

The practice of separating immigrant children from their asylum-seeking parents is reminiscent of the Modest Proposer’s solution.

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Reflections on Internet Trolling

Internet trolling is not contributing to discourse but poisoning it.

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Swift Predicted Trump’s Lies

Swift anticipated Donald Trump in his essay on “Political Lying.”

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