The Benefits of Farting,
Jonathan Swift, the famous author of the literary classic Gulliver’s Tavels, was one of the great masters of satire and social commentary in the early 18th century. He was also known as a prolific jokester and hoaxer. In 1722, Swift published one of the lesser known of his works, entitled, “The Benefit of Farting Explained”, which was essentially a mass pamphlet which was handed out to the public. While certainly a comedic man, Swift was also very critical of the society in which he lived. He especially criticized societies taboos, among which in the early 18th century farting had become.
Published under the pseudonym “Don Fartinhando Puff-Indorst, Professor of Bumbast at the University of Craccow”,the essay is divided into four parts divided into four parts, defining and describing the essence of the fart, then detailing gas’s relationship with law, society, and science. The essay’s title claims that it was “translated into English at the Request and for the Use of the Lady Damp-Fart, of Her-fart-shire” by “Obadiah Fizle, Groom of the Stool to the Princess of Arse-Mini in SardiniaOh, and scholarly reviewed by a “College of Fizz-icians.”
The crux of the essay detailed the health benefits of farting as well as the deleterious effects of holding ones farts in. According to Swift, holding gas in can cause, “Cholicks, hystericks, rumblings, belching, spleen, etc.” Swift further claims that such a habit can have other effects on women as well, “but in the women of a more strong constitution, it vents itself intirely in talkativeness; hence we have a reason, why women are more talkative than men.” Swift concludes the essay with the claim most of the social characteristics which separated the sexes was due to retained gas.