Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub

Liam Lenihan (Independent Scholar - Europe)
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Jonathan Swift’s

A Tale of a Tub

is an exuberant satire on modern reading and writing, an allegory about political and religious fanaticism, and a witty play on classical and Renaissance sources, notably Irenaeus’

Adversus Haereses


Against Heresies

c. 180) and Erasmus’

In Praise of Folly

(1509). Irenaeus was an early Christian bishop who challenged the mysticism of the Gnostics who willfully perverted the canonical texts of the faith, notably the Old and New Testament.

Using the persona of an unnamed Grub Street hack, Swift narrates a tale but continually interrupts it with digressions about the mechanics of the story itself. The main subject of the work appears to be an allegorical tale about three brothers – Peter, Martin and Jack – who are bequeathed three coats by their

4014 words

Citation: Lenihan, Liam. "A Tale of a Tub". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 September 2010 [, accessed 25 July 2024.]

6945 A Tale of a Tub 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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