Directions to Servants

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Hesperus, 2003 - Fiction - 78 pages
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Directions to Servants is one of Jonathan Swift’s last completed works. It displays all his caustic skill as a satirist and his unerring eye for the little annoyances of life. Taking the form of a handbook of manners, and addressed to each servant individually, Directions to Servants is the ultimate upstairs/downstairs battle. With scathing wit, Swift pits master against servant in an endless struggle for order, frugality, and the best bits of the roast. His servants are lazy, profligate, and acquisitive—always on the lookout for a shilling to be made on the sale of leftovers, or a half-bottle of wine to share with the cook. Written in Swift’s final years of sanity, Directions to Servants is a last hilarious outpouring of cynicism at a lifetime’s accumulation of poor service. Irish clergyman and satirist Jonathan Swift is best remembered for his philosophical parody Gulliver’s Travels.

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Directions to Servants (100 pages)

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In his inimitable style, the great Swift here makes monkeys out of both the wealthy (a favorite target) and the hired help. Though this dates back to 1731, it still can produce laughs. Read full review

Contents

All Servants in General
3
the Butler
13
the Cook
25
Copyright

6 other sections not shown

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About the author (2003)

Apparently doomed to an obscure Anglican parsonage in Laracor, Ireland, even after he had written his anonymous masterpiece, A Tale of a Tub (c.1696), Swift turned a political mission to England from the Irish Protestant clergy into an avenue to prominence as the chief propagandist for the Tory government. His exhilaration at achieving importance in his forties appears engagingly in his Journal to Stella (1710--13), addressed to Esther Johnson, a young protegee for whom Swift felt more warmth than for anyone else in his long life. At the death of Queen Anne and the fall of the Tories in 1714, Swift became dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. In Ireland, which he considered exile from a life of power and intellectual activity in London, Swift found time to defend his oppressed compatriots, sometimes in such contraband essays as his Drapier's Letters (1724), and sometimes in such short mordant pieces as the famous A Modest Proposal (1729); and there he wrote perhaps the greatest work of his time, Gulliver's Travels (1726). Using his characteristic device of the persona (a developed and sometimes satirized narrator, such as the anonymous hack writer of A Tale of a Tub or Isaac Bickerstaff in Predictions for the Ensuing Year, who exposes an astrologer), Swift created the hero Gulliver, who in the first instance stands for the bluff, decent, average Englishman and in the second, humanity in general. Gulliver is a full and powerful vision of a human being in a world in which violent passions, intellectual pride, and external chaos can degrade him or her---to animalism, in Swift's most horrifying images---but in which humans do have scope to act, guided by the Classical-Christian tradition. Gulliver's Travels has been an immensely successful children's book (although Swift did not care much for children), so widely popular through the world for its imagination, wit, fun, freshness, vigor, and narrative skill that its hero is in many languages a common proper noun. Perhaps as a consequence, its meaning has been the subject of continuing dispute, and its author has been called everything from sentimental to mad. Swift died in Dublin and was buried next to his beloved "Stella.

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