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The Benefit of Farting was published in pamphlet form in 1722, ostensibly by one Don Fartinando Puff-Indorst, Professor of Bumbast at the University of Crackow (a ‘crack’ being 18th-century slang for a fart).

18 November 2009

12:00 AM

18 November 2009

12:00 AM

The Benefit of Farting Jonathan Swift

The Benefit of Farting was published in pamphlet form in 1722, ostensibly by one Don Fartinando Puff-Indorst, Professor of Bumbast at the University of Crackow (a ‘crack’ being 18th-century slang for a fart).


The Benefit of Farting was published in pamphlet form in 1722, ostensibly by one Don Fartinando Puff-Indorst, Professor of Bumbast at the University of Crackow (a ‘crack’ being 18th-century slang for a fart). Its real author, however, was Jonathan Swift, though you will search in vain through biographies to find any reference to the fact. That The Benefit of Farting was a real emanation of the Dean of St Patrick’s is hardly to be doubted, since it appeared in the fifth edition of his Miscellanies of 1736, when the author himself was still alive. And it is, in its way, very characteristic: the preoccupation is not merely scatological but religious and political, and the title itself is a parody of ‘The Benefit of Fasting’, a chapter in The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living (1650) by the most celebrated religious writer of the previous century, Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down and Connor and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dublin.

Swift ends by proving not only that the suppression of farts leads to ‘Quakerism and Enthusiasm’ but also to the excessive talkativeness of women. As he puts it:

A Fart, tho’ wholesome, does not fail
If barr’d of Passage by the Tail,
To fly back to the Head again,
And, by its Fumes, disturb the Brain:
Thus Gunpowder confin’d, you know, Sir,
Grows stronger, as ‘tis ram’d the closer;
But if in open Air it fires,
In harmless Smoke its Force expires.


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