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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jonathan Swift: Another footnote to The Earth Will Shake

In part six of The Earth Will Shake, the section entitled The Hanged Man, John Babcock is waiting to find out if the authorities at his school will discover if he is a "sodomite" when he reads a passage from a favorite writer, Jonathan Swift, which begins, "Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse."

Wilson doesn't give a citation, but it turns out the passage came from Section Nine of A Tale of a Tub, which the Wikipedia article says is Swift's "first major prose work."

Years ago, I belonged to a book group in Lawton, Oklahoma, which read books suggested by its members. One meeting was supposed to be devoted to discussing Swift's Gulliver's Travels, which I had suggested. I loved the book and looked forward to the discussion, but when I went to the meeting, I discovered that I was the only person who had bothered to finish it.

Passages of The Earth Will Shake make it clear Wilson loved Swift's writing.


Eric Wagner said...

On the "Robert Anton Wilson Explains Everything" tapes Bob mentions that he read all of Swift while living in Dublin. In his great "Brain Books" essay, Bob said, "Swift does a great job of tearing apart conventional ideas about almost everything. He's very, very liberating; almost psychedelic in some passages." You can read that essay at Mike Gathers' wonderful website: .

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