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Books in brief: Jonathan Swift, The Reluctant Rebel by John Stubbs

"Stubbs’s Swift emerges as a vastly larger and more complex figure than the myths allow"

By Kevin Jackson   February 2017

cover-2.jpg.rendition.460.707Jonathan Swift, The Reluctant Rebel by John Stubbs (Viking £25)  

The myths that have grown up around Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) have been damaging. To those with a little learning—and even to those with quite a lot—he has often been regarded as an early Augustan monster: a solitary and malevolent churchman, usually half-mad with rage and spite and disgust, entirely mad in his final years, violently misanthropic, morbidly obsessed with faeces and physical decay, miserly, arrogant and hypocritical, especially about sex.

John Stubbs’s outstanding biography, deeply sympathetic to its complex subject,…

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