Jonathan Swift, born on November 30,1667, was an Anglo-Irish satirist and essayist, remembered for such works as Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is considered by many to be the foremost prose satirist in the English language.
Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms – such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, MB Drapier – or anonymously.
In 1729, Swift published A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick, a satire in which the narrator, with bizarre arguments, suggests that Ireland’s poor could relieve their poverty by selling their children as food to the rich: “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food…”
Gulliver’s Travels, published in 1726, is regarded as his masterpiece. As with his other writings, the Travels was published under a pseudonym, the fictional Lemuel Gulliver, a ship’s surgeon and later a sea captain. Although it has often been mistakenly thought of as a children’s book, it is a brutal satire on human nature and the so-called Enlightenment of the time.
He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in vials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers.
America’s greatest humorist also went by several names while seeking the right moniker: He was Josh through the penning of several humorous sketches; he also wrote letters which he signed Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass. By the time he wrote “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” the short story that brought him international acclaim, he was Mark Twain.
Twain was born on November 30, 1835, shortly after a visit by Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it,” as well. Which he did, dying the day following the comet’s return in 1910.
Celebrated for much of what he wrote, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn remains his crowning achievement, the Great American Novel. William Faulkner called Twain “the father of American literature.” His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he hobnobbed with artists, presidents, titans of industry, and European royalty.
I am said to be a revolutionist in my sympathies, by birth, by breeding and by principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists, because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolute.
There is one notable thing about our Christianity: bad, bloody, merciless, money-grabbing, and predatory as it is–in our country particularly and in all other Christian countries in a somewhat modified degree–it is still a hundred times better than the Christianity of the Bible, with its prodigious crime–the invention of Hell. Measured by our Christianity of to-day, bad as it is, hypocritical as it is, empty and hollow as it is, neither the Deity nor his Son is a Christian, nor qualified for that moderately high place. Ours is a terrible religion. The fleets of the world could swim in spacious comfort in the innocent blood it has spilled.