Book Review — A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

Image courtesy of Goodreads

In this Little Black Classics volume, Penguin has put together a bunch of short stories written by Jonathan Swift, whom we know for his popular work Gulliver’s Travels. While a majority of the pieces in this book is satiric in nature, I would like to draw your due attention towards the first piece  titled A Meditation upon a Broomstick. Herein, he places surprising emphasis on the life of a Broomstick, comparing its features to that of humans. His rumination of how a broomstick lives out its usefulness, much like human beings is startling, albeit true. Other texts like A Modest Proposal, An Examination of Certain Abuses, Corruption and Enormities in the City of Dublin, A Short View of the State of Ireland follow the standards of life in Ireland. His indignation at the poor state of affairs in Ireland, because of lack of policing and enforcement of laws, meddlesome countries and even the corruption within Ireland are reflected in the sarcastic tone of narration.

I rather enjoyed reading this collection of stories. While there were tons of cultural innuendos that I simply couldn’t grasp, I was definitely able to understand what was being spoken of. My two favourite pieces from this book are A Meditation upon a Broomstick and A Modest Proposal. Some may find the content of A Modest Proposal extremely horrifying as he suggests eating children to solve the problems of poverty, famine etc. But it must be understood that it is a satiric piece, and Swift is not actually suggesting that people sell/eat their children. His writing style is interesting, complete with the capitalization of letters that one wouldn’t normally use nowadays. While written as humor, some of the sections are thought provoking. And I appreciated that about his writing. I’m looking forward to reading more Irish texts. I liked this collection of stories a lot better than some others that Penguin has to offer. Although I wouldn’t recommend it as light reading. If you’re interested in Irish Literature or satire, you should give this one a try.

Ratings – 3 stars on 5


Published by Meera Nair

A 27 year-old freelance Content Writer, who spends all her free time ensconced in the pages of a book or writing to her heart's content about topics that excite the creative spirit in her.

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