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November 15 , 2010

A Tale of a Tub (Annotated)


A Tale of a Tub was the first big work written by Jonathan Swift. It is arguably his most difficult satire, and perhaps his most masterly. The Tale is a prose parody which is divided into sections of "digression" and a "tale" of three brothers, each representing one of the main branches of western Christianity. Composed between 1694 and 1697, it was eventually published in 1704.
A Tale was long regarded as a satire on religion itself, and has famously been attacked for that, starting with William Wotton. The "tale" presents a consistent satire of religious excess, while the digressions are a series of parodies of contemporary writing in literature, politics, theology, Biblical exegesis, and medicine. The overarching parody is of enthusiasm, pride, and credulity. At the time it was written, politics and religion were still linked very closely in England, and the religious and political aspects of the satire can often hardly be separated. "The work made Swift notorious, and was widely misunderstood, especially by Queen Anne herself who mistook its purpose for profanity." "It effectively disbarred its author from proper preferment within the church," but is considered one of Swift's best allegories, even by himself. It was enormously popular, but Swift believed it damaged his prospect of advancement in the Church of England.
This edition has been formatted for your reader, with an active table of contents.  It has also been illustrated and annotated, with an overview, cultural setting, background, nature of the satire, background, publication, history, authorship debate, biographical and bibliographical information.

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A Tale of a Tub

Though the author has written a large Dedication, yet that being addressed to a Prince whom I am never likely to have the honour of being known to; a person, besides, as far as I can observe, not at all regarded or thought on by any of our present writers; and I being wholly free from that slavery which booksellers usually lie under to the…

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