Jonathan Swift: Our Dean (Hardback)Eugene Hammond (author)
- Not available
Publisher: University of Delaware Press
Number of pages: 840
Weight: 1524 g
Dimensions: 238 x 157 x 53 mm
This is a remarkable book. It gives us a comprehensive biography that supplies a sense of both Swift's daily life and the intellectual contexts in which he wrote his major and minor works. Ehrenpreis's three-volume Swift (1963-85) was a major advance, but suffered from its Freudian psychology and unsupported claims about Swift's sexuality, relationships, and aspirations-which Hammond politely but bluntly challenges. Hammond's Jonathan Swift compellingly presents its subject as first and foremost a civic activist, a man who wrote to live rather than living to write. This biography is important and persuasive, deeply learned, careful, and engaging. It will be a landmark in Swift studies. -- Ashley Marshall, Associate Professor of English, University of Nevada, Reno
Since the publication of the third and final volume in Irvin Ehrenpreis's Swift: The Man, His Works, and the Age (1983), several biographies of Swift have appeared, attempting to correct Ehrenpreis's narrative or his character of Swift, but all have been derivative and slanted. Professor Hammond has produced the first new biography that adds to the biographical record and that Swift scholars must consult. By avoiding the extensive digressions in Ehrenpreis's Swift, and by scrutinizing and rejecting testimonies (including some by the elderly Swift) that passed distortions, falsehoods, and improbabilities into the historical record, Hammond has written the most coherent, fluent, and proportional narrative of Swift's life, constructing a plausible characterization that most scholars will recognize as a true portrait of the complex genius and outsider born in Dublin in 1667 and buried there in 1745. Hammond's interpretation and re-creation of Swift's life stresses the man's own aspirations, feelings, and values, characterizing Swift as a "civic activist" who wished "to make history, and record it." After reading this biography, with its thesis that "Principled behavior, whether in or out of public station, was what he lived for, and why he wrote," Swift may stop rolling over in his grave. -- Jim May, Penn State University, Editor, The Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer
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