Category: Essays (Miscellaneous)

(1697-1745) Jonathan Swift Major Works
(Oxford/Reading the Long 18th Century #7)

Note: I actually read the now-defunct Oxford Authors Series version from 1984 (pictured at right), but the texts are identical….

Jonathan Swift lived from 1667-1745 and wrote a heck of a lot of dense, now-obscure work. I’m not going to lie to you and say that this wasn’t the slog that it surely was. Whether it was I who dragged this squat, ugly tome through the past seven months, or it me—is now, finally, moot. Cos it’s over, free at last, free at last!

If you ever took those period-survey English lit courses in uni, did you, too, dread those volumes, published by Norton and Riverside,……

(1698–1704) The True-Born Englishman and Other Writings by Daniel Defoe
(Penguin/Reading the Long 18th Century #8)

From the Introduction:

The theme of The True -Born Englishman is simple but profound […] What possible right has a race composed of all the offscourings of Europe, Romans, Gauls, Saxons, Danes and Normans—as well as needy Scots—to despise foreigners? (xii)

I would be but half in earnest if I said that I read this so that you don’t have to (OK: three-quarters, maybe seven-eighths), but it would be a shame, in a way, if you didn’t (it is currently out of print, but 2-Dolla-Dan copies abound on the used-book interwebs). Cos in this book (containing 13 of Defoe’s reputed 545 extant works, these all composed some two decades before his novels, between 1698 and 1704) you get a better picture of what Mr. Defoe was really like than……