Annotating J. S. Swift’s Reading at Moor Park in 1697/8

In: Reading Swift
Dirk F. Passmann Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

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Hermann J. Real Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

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Although Swift was an avid, and adversarial, reader at all times of his life, three major reading periods stand out in his career: the first when at Trinity College the young Jonathan, tired of the curricular tedium there, began to neglect his “Academical Studyes” and “turned himself to reading History and Poetry;” the second when, as Sir William Temple’s secretary at Moor Park in the latter half of the 1690s, the newly ordained clergyman “devoted eight hours a day to the prosecution of his studies,” and the third in the early 1720s when the mature Dean having embarked on the composition of Gulliver’s Travels interspersed his masterpiece with the fruits of much reading.

At Moor Park, from January 1696 to January 1697, Swift “kept an Account one Year of the Books he read.” This ‘Account,’ a total of thirty-seven titles by thirty-six authors, survives in a transcript made by the Revd John Lyon and bound in at the beginning of Lyon’s copy of John Hawkesworth’s Life of the Revd Jonathan Swift, D.D. The authors here present a list of the identified titles in a basic bibliographical format and with descriptive labels as to language, subject, and scope. They conclude that Lyon’s ‘Account,’ allegedly a transcript of Swift’s holograph, is actually an inflated list containing titles presumably not read at Moor Park in 1697/8 but added at some later stage.

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Reading Swift

Papers from The Seventh Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift


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