Montblanc Jonathan Swift Writers Edition -

Sunday, September 28, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

A good satirist is arguably one of the cleverest, funniest and most informed members of society. They
are skilled in one of the most enviable genres in the literary world, and just about every author or young
protégée with a pencil and notebook crave the wit and humor that satirists use to showcase and ridicule
the vices, abuses and follies of society with the intent to shame society into improvement. (Although
satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is constructive, social criticism that uses wit
as a weapon. Satire features strong irony, sarcasm, parody, exaggeration, comparison, analogy and
double entendres to create a humorous piece that amuses just as effortlessly as it informs. In fact, most
scholars regard it as the easiest and most insightful way to understand and judge a society and social
order.
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Greater purposes aside, satirists of the English language have enjoyed particular success and
emulation since the genre’s conception. So it is a little bit, dare I say, ironic that one of the most timeless
masters of the craft was born in a country that has had a rather complex history with the language’s
mother country.
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Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1667, after the death of his father. Subsequently,
his mother moved him and his brother to England where he was predominantly cared for by his
powerful uncle who had connections with some of England’s most elite literary professionals. Despite
much of his youth being spent in England and it being the publishing birthplace of many of his works,
Swift spent most of life in the city of his birth.
His success as a writer started humbly enough. In the early 18th century he published A Tale of
a Tub and The Battle of the Books, two pieces that successfully kick started his career as a writer and
allowed him to become accepted into England’s most prestigious and influential literary circles. He soon
became lifelong friends with other legendary writers such as Alexander Pop and John Arbuthnot. They,
along with other writers, formed the core of the Martinus Scriblerus Club. (Not quite as cool as the
Illuminati, but cool enough I suppose.)
Now, I could go on and on about all of the political intrigue he was involved in with England’s
Tory Party; acts that included, but were certainly not limited to, ending the War of the Spanish
Succession, First-Fruits and Twentieths, and the drama that followed the death of Queen Anne in 1714
leading to many Tories being tried for treason, but I digress. Those are stories for another day. What I
will talk about are two pieces of work that made Jonathan Swift a classical author and one of the most
successful trailblazers of his genre.
First, there is A Modest Proposal; a cleverly versed, short story that even now, almost four
centuries after it was written, still manages to delight its audience. An audience that sadly, has been
whittled down to a High School Honors English class or two. The story is targeted towards a turn of the
century Ireland that has suffered extreme cases of famine, poverty, mass immigration and oppression.
The story suggests, in complete and utter seriousness with no sense of theatrics, that to prevent Ireland
from falling into a deeper state of depravity, adults should either sell or eat their children. In a blunt,
strikingly, unapologetic tone, Swift proceeds to give accurate statistical facts about the condition of
the Irish people, and provides truly valid reasons as to why selling children by the pound when one has
too many and eating young toddlers for their nutritional value is the key to bringing Ireland out of its
depression. Now, all of this is clearly not meant to be taken seriously, but Swift presents the argument
in such a convincing, glowing suggestion that by the story’s end you’re halfway convinced that this is
clearly the solution the Ireland’s problem. This is the true nature of satire – taking a ridiculous idea and
presenting it in a totally serious manner, or vice versa. The humor is in the contrast and the greater the
contrast, the more humorous.
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Swift’s undeniably most famous work, however, has and probably always will be, Gulliver’s
Travels. A roaring success from the moment it was published, it tells the story of a man named Gulliver
who travels to various exotic lands and explores the variations of human nature and social philosophy.
(Or so I have been told. I’ve never read the book and have only seen the movie version with Jack Black,
and I am not sure how accurate it is.) Nevertheless, Gulliver’s Travels has been hailed as a study of
corruption, government ideals and racial discrimination told in a style decades, even centuries before its
time. It is a unique, artful play of contrasts in human belief systems that manages to highlight, scrutinize
and even mock human preconceptions that has become second-nature over the course of time.
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A literary powerhouse with a work of art to match, Montblanc’s Writers Edition has chosen
to honor this forefather of classical satire. The Jonathan Swift Montblanc Pen’s black lacquer barrel is
decorated with multilayered inlays designed to represent the ropes that were used to bind Gulliver
when he visited Lilliput, the land of the tiny people, in his first adventure. The precious black resin cap
is shaped like Gulliver’s tricorn and bears Jonathan Swift’s signature. A platinum-plated clip depicts the
tall, beautiful staircase of the mayor of Lilliput while the delicately designed rhodium-plated 18K gold
nib boasts an elaborate engraving of the Lilliput Imperial Army. The Jonathan Swift is a limited edition
piece with restricted worldwide access. It is a gem of its generation. An impeccable, stylish dedication to
a book and a man, who managed to carve a place in the history of the English language.
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