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JONATHAN SWIFT

LESSONS 1-2

 

JONATHAN SWIFT

(1667-1745)

“As fierce a beak and talon as ever struck, as strong a wing as ever beat, belonged to Swift.”1 In these words Thackeray,2 an outstanding  English writer, described Jonathan Swift.

Swift is one of the greatest English satirical writers. He lived at a time which is generally named the epoch of Enlightenment. The epoch of Enlightenment was a period when the bourgeoisie was yet a  progressive class struggling against feudalism. Thus in France, the bourgeoisie was preparing to fight the feudal regime of an absolute monarchy. In England the situation was different.

the English bourgeois revolution had already taken place. It ended in the

establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1689. Engels defined it as a “compromise between the rising middle class 3 and the ex-feudal landowners,”4 who were now “quite a new body, with habits and tendencies far more bourgeois than feudal.” Accordingly the English bourgeoisie lacked the revolutionary spirit which characterized the French bourgeoisie of the period. The English bourgeois philosophers and writers did not think of radical changes in the structure of society as a whole. They believed that the social system could be perfected through criticism of certain evils and vices and through general enlightenment and education. They believed that education and general enlightenment would enable peopleto see the way to making their life just and happy.

Only  one of them went so far in his criticism as to attack the vitalprinciples of the bourgeois system.

Jonathan Swift was that man.

Swift was  born in Dublin. His family was very poor. With the help of his uncle he was sent to school and then to the university. Some time later he went to London. There he came in touchwith literary and political circles, and began writing himself.

There were two political parties in England in those days, the  party of Whigs the party of Tories.8 At first Swift sided with the Whigs, then he grew disappointed and supported the Tories; finally he gave up both. He saw that neither care for the fate ofthe country, and that the members of either party were busy pursuing their own selfish interests.

In 17J3 he left London for Ireland. There he saw the mi­serable conditions of the Irish people, who lived in poverty and hunger and were heavily taxed and oppressed by the English ruling classes. It was then that Swift wrote “The Drapier’s Letters,*6 his famous pamphlets in defence of the Irish people. Another pamphlet, “A Modest Proposal,”7 was a forcible defence of Irish children doomed to starvation.

His books “The Tale of a Tub”8 and “Gulliver’s Travels”9 are the most significant.

“The tale of a Tub” (1704) is a satirical allegory in which Swift holds up to ridicule the church with its dogmas, religious quar­rels and prejudices.

“Gulliver’s Travels” (1726) is a biting satire on the political and social system of the day, an exposure of English and aristocratic society.

Bourgeois critics of literature do not like Swift, they call him a misanthrope and sceptic. Yet all progressive-minded people have always valued his bitter, uncompromising satire. Soviet readers fully appreciate the author of “Gulliver’s Travels,” who saw the evils of capitalism and took the side of the oppressed people.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES

1as fierce a beak and talon as ever struck, as strong a wing as ever beat, belonged to Swift Свифт обладал самым сильным клювом и когтями, какие когда-либо наносили удар, самыми сильными крыльями, какие когда- либо рассекали воздух — так Теккерей образно характеризует обличитель­ную силу произведений Свифта.

2Thackeray см. статью на стр. 84.

3the middle class здесь буржуазия.

4the ex-feudal landowners бывшие феодалы-землевладельцы.

the party of Whigs and the party of Tories партиявиговипартиятори;

политические партии, образовавшиеся со времён английской буржуазной революции; в настоящее время — партия либералов и партия консервато­ров. По существу не отличаются друг от друга, будучи проявлением ли­цемерной демократии буржуазно-аристократической Англии.

“The Drapier’s Letters” „Письма суконщика“.

“A Modest Proposal” „Скромное предложение“.в“The Tale of a Tub” „Сказка бочки“.

“Gulliver’s Travels” „Путешествия Гулливера*.

 

TASK TO LESSONS 1-2

 

Task 1. Read and translate the text.

Task 2. Pick out new words in your vocabulary.

Task 3 Compose the fact file with as many new words as you can.


 

LESSONS 3-4

 

THE DIVERSIONS OF THE COURT OF LILLIPUT DESCRIBED

(From “Gulliver’s Travels”)

“Gulliver’s Travels” is one of the finest works of world literature. The story is told by one Lemuel Gulliver, a supposed “captain of several ships,” as the author calls him. The book consists of four parts. The first part describes Gulliver’s voyage to the kingdom of Lilliput, and is a sharp satire on the English parliament,

The English court, church, and some statesmen of the day. The second part gives an account of Gulliver’s stay in the country of giants. Gulliver’s talks with the giant  king contain Swift’s criticism of the social and political system of  England as a whole. The third part takes us to Laputa. Here Swift mocks at scholastic learning that has nothing to do with the real needs of men. The fourth brings the  hero lo the land of “noble horses,” the Houyhnhnms,1 who are contrasted to the disgusting, repulsive Yahoos2 in whom we can recognise the degraded men of bourgeois society.

The following description  is a sharp satire on the English court and the  English government. The  conduct of the Lilliput courtiers is a satirical representation of the ways and habits of English statesmen and ministers, who will do anything and exert themselves in any possible way if it can help their career.

When a great office is vacant, either by death or disgrace (which often happens), five or six of those candidates petition the Emperor to entertain His Majesty and the court with a dance on the rope and whoever jumps the highest without falling, succeeds in the office.3Very often the chief ministers themselves are commanded to show their skill, and to convince the Emperor that they have not lost their faculty.

These  diversions are often attended with fatal accidents, where- of great numbers are on record. I myself have seen two or three candidates break a limb. But the danger is much greater when the ministers themselves are commanded to show their dexterity; for, by contending to excel themselves and their fellows, they strain so far thatthere  is hardly one of them who hath not received a fall,4and some of them two or three.

There is likewise another diversion, which is only shown before the Emperor and Empress, and first minister, upon particular occasions.  The Emperor lays on the table three fine silken threads of six inches long; one is blue, the other red, and the third green. These threads are proposed as prizes, for those persons whom the Emperor hath a mind to distinguish by a peculiar mark of his favour. The ceremony is performed in His Majesty’s great chamber of state;5 where the candidates are to undergo a trial of dexterity very different from the former, and such as I have not observed the least resemblance of in any other country of the old or the new world. The Emperor holds a stick in his hands, both ends parallel to the horizon, while the candidates, advancing one by one, sometimes leap over the stick, sometimes creep under it backwards and forwards several times, according as the stick is advanced or depressed.6 Sometimes the Emperor holds one end of the stick, and his first minister the other; sometimes the minister has it entirely to himself. Whoever performs his part7 with most agility, and holds out the longest in leaping and creeping, is rewarded with the blue-coloured silk; the red is given to the next, and the green to the third, which they all wear girt twice round about  the middle; and you see few such great persons about this  court, who are not adorned with one of these girdles.

EXPLANATORYNOTES


1Houyhnhnms выдуманное Свифтом звукоподражательное слово, название, которое „благородные кони“ дают самим себе.

2Yahoos яху; „благородные кони“ давали это название животным, которые жили в их стране и были очень похожи на людей. Яху отличались всеми дурными инстинктами человека, но были лишены разума.

3succeeds in the office занимает пост. Описывая, от лица Гулливера, при­дворные нравы лиллипутов, Свифт придерживается точности и обстоя­тельности изложения, объективного, несколько сдержанного тона очевидца, который хочет правдиво рассказать читателю о виденном, не навязывая ему своего мнения. Этот нарочито серьёзный, беспристрастный тон уси­ливает сатиричность описания.

4there is hardly one of them who hath not received a fall— сатира на

постоянную смену министров в Англии; hath старая форма 3-го лица ед. ч. наст.вр. от глагола tohave.

5chamber of state парадный зал.

6is... depressed здесь опускается.

7whoever performs his part — сатира на низкопоклонство.

 

TASK TO THE LESSONS 3-4

Task 1. Read and translate the text.

Task 2. Pick out new words in your vocabulary.

Task 3 Compose the plan of the extract of five items with as many new words as possible.

Task 4. Describe the characters of this story.

Task 5. Compress the sentence The fourth brings the hero lo the land of “noble horses,” the Houyhnhnms,1 who are contrasted to the disgusting, repulsive Yahoos2 in whom we can recognise the degraded men of bourgeois society.

 

LESSONS 5-6

 

GULLIVER TALKS OF ENGLAND TO A NOBLE HORSE

After Gulliver had left Lilliput he travelled in many other wonderful coun­tries. At last he arrived in the land of noble horses, or Houyhnhnms,1 as they called themselves in their own language. When Gulliver came to know the customs and manners of their country and learnt their tongue he became aware that these horses were far superior in morals and understanding to men. Their state and private life was organized according to the laws of reason. Soon Gul­liver felt a greater respect for them than he had ever had for any man.

Gulliver lived in the family of one of the horses, and the head of the family sometimes talked to him, for he was curious to know how people lived in that distant country which was Gulliver’s home. Gulliver was quite willing to tell him all he wanted to hear. He had such a high opinion of that horse that he gladly spoke of him as “my master,” and addressed him as “your honour.”2 Gulliver’s master asked him many questions about England. Some of the things Gulliver told him he could scarcely understand, for the Houyhnhnms had never heard of war, injustice and poverty. Once he asked Gulliver to explain to him the usual causes and motives of war...

He asked me what were the usual causes or motives that made one country go to war with another. I answered, they were in­numerable; but I should only mention a few of the chief. Some­times the ambition of princes, who never think they have land or people enough to govern; sometimes the corruption of ministers, who engage their master in a war in order to stifle or divert the clamour of the subjects against their evil administration.

Sometimes the quarrel between two princes is to decide of them shall dispossess a third of his dominions, where neither of them pretend to any right. Sometimes one prince quarreleth 1 with another, for fear the other should quarrel with him. Some­times a war is entered upon, because the enemy is too strong, and sometimes because he is too weak. Sometimes our neighbours want the things which we have, or have the things which we want; and we both fight, till they take ours or give us theirs. It is a very


Justifiable cause of war to invade a country after the people have been wasted by famine, destroyed by pestilence, or embroiled by pestilence, or embroiled by factions among  themselves.4 It is justifiable to enter into war against our nearest ally, when one of his towns lies convenient for us, or a territory of land, that would render our dominions round and compact. If a prince sends forces into a nation, where

The people are poor and ignorant, he may lawfully put half ofdeath,5 and make slaves of the rest, in order to civilize and reduce them6 from their barbarous way of living.7 It is a very kingly, honourable, and frequent practice, when one prince desires the  assistance of another to secure him against an invasion, that the assistant, when he hath driven out the invader, should seize on the dominions himself, and kill, imprison, or banish prince he came to relieve.

What  you have  told me, (said my master) upon the subject of war, doth indeed discover most admirably the effects of that reason you pretend to;8 however, it is happy that the shame is greater than the danger; and that Nature hath left you utterly incapable of doing much mischief. For your mouths lying flat with your faces, you can hardly bite each other to any purpose unless by consent.9 Then, as to the claws upon your feet before and behind, they areso short and tender, that one of our Yahoos10 would drive a dozen of yours before him. And therefore in recounting the numbersof those who have been killed in battle, I cannot but think you have said the thing which is not.11

I could not forbear shaking my head and smiling a little at his ignorance.And, being no stranger to the art of war, I gave him a description of cannons, muskets, carabines, pistols, bullets, powder, swords, bayonets, battles, sieges, retreats, attacks, underminesbombardments, sea-fights, ships sunk with a thousand men; twenty thousands killed on each side; dying groans, limbs flying in the air. Smoke, noise, confusion,12 trampling to death under horses’ feet. Flight, pursuit, victory; fields strewed with carcasses left for food to dogs, and wolves, and birds of prey; plundering, stripping ravishing, burning and destroying. And, to set forth the valour of my own dear countrymen, I assured him, that I had seen them blow up n hundred enemies at once in a siege, and as manyin a ship; and beheld the dead bodies drop down in pieces from the clouds; to the great diversion of all the spectators.

I was going on to more particulars, when my master commanded me silence. He said, whoever understood the nature of Yahoos might easily believe it possible for so vile an animal to be capable of every action I had named, if their strength and cunning equal­led their malice.

I was also at much pains to describe to him the use of money, the materials it was made of, and the value of the metals. That when a Yahoo had got a great store of this precious substance, he was able to purchase  whatever he had a mind to;13 the finest clothing, the noblest houses, great tracts of land, the most costly meats and drinks; and have his choice of the most beautiful fe­males. Therefore, since money alone was able to perform all these feats, our Yahoos thought, they could never have enough of it to spend or to save, as they found themselves inclined from their natural bent either to profusion or avarice. That the rich man enjoyed the fruit of the poor man’s labour, and the latter were a thousand to one in proportion to the former.14 That the bulk of our people was forced to live miserably, by labouring every day for small wages to make a few live plentifully. I enlarged myself16 much on these and many other particulars to the same purpose; but His Honour was still to seek;16 for he went upon a supposition that all animals had a title to their share in the productions of the earth.

 

EXPLAN ATORY NOTES

1Houyhnhnms см. пояснение настр. 26.

2your honour форма обращения ваша честь.

3quarreleth; -eth устар. окончание 3-го лица ед. ч. наст.вр.

4embroiled by factions among themselves запутавшись в междуусобной

борьбе (намёк на постоянную грызню парламентских партий).

5to put to deathказнить.

6 in order to civilize... them.Сатирическое описание английской национальной политики. Порабощая и грабя народы, её руководители постоянно стре­мились скрыть свои хищнические цели, заявляя о якобы благотворном влиянии англичан на малоцивилизованное туземное население колоний. Характеристика действий колонизаторов полна гневной иронии. Резкое несоответствие между значением слов civilize, justifiable, lawfully, honour­able и сущностью действий, которые они характеризуют, раскрывает глу­боко критическое отношение автора к тому, что он описывает.

7reduce them from their barbarous way of living уничтожить их варвар­ский образ жизни.

8that reason you pretend to разум, которым вы, по вашему утверждению,

обладаете.

9 you can hardly bite each other to any purpose unless by consent вы

не можете сколько-нибудь сильно укусить друг друга, кроме как по взаим­ному соглашению.

10Yahoos см. пояснение на стр. 26. Кони считали, что Гулливер также при­надлежит к породе яху.

11said the thing which is not.Кони никогда не лгали, и в их языке не было слова ложь. Поэтому, когда конь не верит Гулливеру, вместо того, чтобы сказать ему „ты лжёшь“, он говорит „ты говоришь то, чего нет“.

12smoke, noise, confusion — ряд односоставных предложений. Этим отры­вистым перечислением Гулливер старается передать коню впечатление от ужасов войны.

13whatever he had a mind to идиом, всё, что ему хотелось.

14the latter were a thousand to one in proportion to the former численность последних относится к численности первых, как тысяча к одному.

15I enlarged myself я распространился.

16was still to seek здесь всё ещё не мог понять.

 

TASK TO LESSONS 5-6

Task 1. Read and translate the text.

Task 2. Pick out new words in your vocabulary.

Task 3 Compose the plan of the extract of five items with as many new words as possible.

Task 4. Extend the sentence Once he asked Gulliver to explain to him the usual causes and motives of war.

Task 5. Put as many questions as possible to the sentence Gulliver was quite willing to tell him all he wanted to hear.

Task 6. Make a literary analysis of the text or make a presentation using Microsoft Power Point Presentation.