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Bickerstaff-Partridge Papers   By: (1667-1745)

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The Bickerstaff-Partridge Papers by Jonathan Swift is a satirical masterpiece that explores the ridiculousness of astrology and the gullibility of the general public. Swift, known for his biting wit and sharp criticism, uses the persona of Isaac Bickerstaff to brilliantly dismantle the pseudoscience and expose its flaws.

The book is a compilation of various letters, predictions, and arguments that revolve around a fictitious feud between Isaac Bickerstaff and the renowned astrologer, John Partridge. Bickerstaff, as the narrator, humorously discredits Partridge's predictions and expertise, revealing the absurdity of astrology as a whole.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the book is Swift's ability to blend satire with genuine scholarly arguments against astrology. He cleverly manipulates logic and reason to dismantle the credibility of astrologers, highlighting how their predictions are nothing more than empty claims. Through Bickerstaff's voice, he mocks the gullible masses who eagerly believe in astrology, exposing their weaknesses and blind faith in pseudo-scientific practices.

The humor in the Bickerstaff-Partridge Papers is incredibly clever and often laugh-out-loud funny. Swift's use of irony, puns, and wordplay adds an extra layer of entertainment, making the book an enjoyable read. Every letter and argument is well-crafted, showcasing Swift's mastery of language and his sharp intellect.

Beyond its comedic value, the book holds a deeper message about human folly and the dangers of blindly accepting unfounded beliefs. Swift urges readers to question authority, challenge irrational beliefs, and rely on reason and evidence rather than fallacies and superstitions. The Bickerstaff-Partridge Papers can, therefore, be seen as a call to critical thinking and a reminder of the importance of skepticism in a world filled with baseless claims.

The only potential drawback of the book is its dense language, which might require readers to have some background knowledge of the 18th-century cultural and linguistic context. However, with a bit of patience and effort, the wit and brilliance of Swift's writing will undoubtedly shine through.

In conclusion, the Bickerstaff-Partridge Papers is a must-read for anyone who appreciates satire, sharp wit, and a touch of intellectual humor. Jonathan Swift brilliantly challenges the prevalent belief in astrology, dissecting its flaws with undeniable logic and tremendous skill. Whether you are looking for a thought-provoking read or a comedic escape, this book offers both in abundance.

First Page:


by Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift, et al. The Bickerstaff Partridge Papers, etc. Annus Mirabilis

Predictions For The Year 1708

Wherein the month, and day of the month are set down, the persons named, and the great actions and events of next year particularly related, as will come to pass.

Written to prevent the people of England from being farther imposed on by vulgar almanack makers.

By Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq.

I have long consider'd the gross abuse of astrology in this kingdom, and upon debating the matter with myself, I could not possibly lay the fault upon the art, but upon those gross impostors, who set up to be the artists. I know several learned men have contended that the whole is a cheat; that it is absurd and ridiculous to imagine, the stars can have any influence at all upon human actions, thoughts, or inclinations: And whoever has not bent his studies that way, may be excused for thinking so, when he sees in how wretched a manner that noble art is treated by a few mean illiterate traders between us and the stars; who import a yearly stock of nonsense, lyes, folly, and impertinence, which they offer to the world as genuine from the planets, tho' they descend from no greater a height than their own brains.

I intend in a short time to publish a large and rational defence of this art, and therefore shall say no more in its justification at present, than that it hath been in all ages defended by many learned men, and among the rest by Socrates himself, whom I look upon as undoubtedly the wisest of uninspir'd mortals: To which if we add, that those who have condemned this art, though otherwise learned, having been such as either did not apply their studies this way, or at least did not succeed in their applications; their testimony will not be of much weight to its disadvantage, since they are liable to the common objection of condemning what they did not understand... Continue reading book >>

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