For the last thirty years of his life, in his capacity as the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Jonathan Swift lived in a small, populous, and largely independent district of Dublin. Beyond the jurisdiction of the civic and ecclesiastical authorities, the Liberty of St Patrick’s was in some part a realm unto itself, and Swift was its sovereign. His dealings with his many neighbours have, however, attracted little scholarly attention. This essay accordingly offers a literary-historical survey of the quarter and its residents. Following a brief overview of how Swift conceptualized the condition of being a neighbour, it describes the privileges of his office, the built environment of the franchise that was his charge, and the kinds of person who lodged there. The second half of the essay introduces some of the Dean’s more prominent neighbours, four individuals with whom he had disputes of various kinds. For all the provocations of those amongst whom he lived, his vis-à-vis with his neighbours can finally be seen to have been a source of considerable personal contentment.
This new volume of Reading Swift assembles 26 lectures delivered at the Seventh Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift in June 2017, testifying to an extraordinary spectrum of research interests in the Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin, and his works. Reading Swift follows the tried and tested format of its predecessors, grouping the essays in eight sections: biographical problems; bibliographical and canonical studies; political and religious as well as philosophical, economic, and social issues; poetry; Gulliver’s Travels; and reception studies. The élan vital, which has been such a distinctive feature of Swift scholar-ship in the past thirty-five years, is continuing unabated.