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Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) is generally acknowledged as the finest satirical writer in the English language, and it is no exaggeration to say, as Harold Bloom does, that he is likely the most "savage and merciless satirist" as well. Although Swift is best known for his longest and most ambitious work, the allegorical fiction Gulliver's Travels, shorter works such as A Modest Proposal, The Battle of the Books, and A Tale of a Tub, among other important pieces collected here, are no less accomplished and in some ways are more revealing of his satirical genius. The surprising, sometimes perverse humour and stinging mockery, the complex stylistic interplay of rhetoric, argument, and meaning, and the superb ironic control displayed throughout these pieces are the hallmarks not only of a master satirist, but of a skilled controversialist and public spirit, someone intensely concerned with engaging pressing issues and affecting his audience in certain ways. The art of satire has rarely provoked more controversy and had such lasting effect.