A Modest Proposal

Jonathan Swift & Gerald Scarfe & Fintan O'Toole, 2017

Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and one of Ireland’s greatest writers and satirists, was born in Dublin on the 30th of November 1667. To celebrate the 350th anniversary of his birth, Stoney Road Press will publish in 2017, a limited boxed and illustrated edition of his notorious and biting satire, ‘A Modest Proposal’.

More fully titled ‘A modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick’, this work is considered by many to be one of the fiercest and most damningly brilliant satirical essays in the English language. In it the author suggests that the impoverished Irish of the time might ease their economic woes by selling their children as food for the tables of the rich:

“A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.”

Using as its inspiration an original 1729 copy of the essay, which is part of the collection of the Royal Irish Academy, Stoney Road Press has commissioned the infamous satirical cartoonist Gerald Scarfe to produce three etchings for the book. Scarfe is best known for his editorial cartoons for The Sunday Times and for his illustrations for The New Yorker, where his grotesque and insightful depictions of many of the world’s most prominent politicians, including Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Benjamin Netanyahu, amongst many others, have appeared. He also achieved worldwide fame for his album and film artwork for Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’. Scarfe was attracted to this Swift project as he has always considered ‘A Modest Proposal’ to be a masterpiece of satirical writing.

Printed on black BFK Rives Noir paper with a black linen cover and matching box, the book will contain three etchings, accompanied by an introduction by The Irish Times literary editor Fintan O’Toole. Each copy will be hand-bound by Antiquarian Bookcrafts in Dublin and will be signed by Gerald Scarfe and Fintan O’Toole.

‘A Modest Proposal’ will be published in 2017 by Stoney Road Press in an edition of 175, marked 1-175, at a pre-publication price of €1,000 plus a further 50 copies in Roman numerals marked I to L for private distribution.

If you would like to reserve a copy please contact Stoney Road Press.

Let's keep in touch.

We'd love to keep you up to date on new projects, editions and upcoming events.