“A Modest Proposal”


(1729) An essay by Jonathan Swift, often called a masterpiece of irony. The full title is “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of the Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to Their Public.” Swift emphasizes the terrible poverty of eighteenth-century Ireland by ironically proposing that Irish parents earn money by selling their children as food.

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Lincolnesque

notes for “A Modest Proposal”

The phrase “a modest proposal” is often used ironically to introduce a major innovative suggestion.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.