Book 20: A Modest Proposal

I first read Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal in 7th grade with a teacher who went through it paragraph by paragraph with us, delighting in each bit of satire he could pull out and explain for us. I reread it for the 1001 Books Challenge getting it from the web


A Modest Proposal For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public (1729) anonymously. In this essay, Swift mocks the British officials and upper class by appearing to suggest that the poor Irish might solve their economic problems by selling their children as food. This would solve several problems, he notes, such as the poverty of the Irish and doing away with the beggars in the street which so offended the upper class. This satire is a full-length argument suggesting possible recipes / preparations for the children and the economical calculations / benefits to doing this with the goal to “find out a fair, cheap, and easy Method” for converting the starving children of Ireland into “sound and useful members of the Commonwealth.”

A pretty cool study guide for the essay can be found here. Happy Reading!


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