Swift: The Disgruntled Expat ‘at Home’ Plays with a Language of Racial Othering

  • Michael O’Sullivan
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


This chapter gives a new reading of Jonathan Swift in terms of his own identity as expatriate and also in terms of his representation of identity in such works as Gulliver’s Travels. Swift is described as a “blow-in” to Ireland in one recent biography. He spent his formative years in England and he sought positions in England until well into his sixties. He was also writing scathingly of the Irish as a people in work written in his fifties and sixties. However, he is often positioned at the beginning of anthologies of Irish literature in English. This chapter examines Swift’s relationship with Irishness and with the English language, what he consistently calls “our language” in reference to his English cultural heritage.


Swift Irishness Language Race Orientalism 

Works Cited

Works Cited

  1. Rawson, Claude. Swift’s Angers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael O’Sullivan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishChinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

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