All the horses live together in a cohesive social unit. Gulliver feels that he is a stupid outsider. The Houyhnhnms cannot accept him because of his human form, and he escapes in a canoe. When he returns home, he is upset by the sordid nature of the human world and wishes he were back with the more enlightened horses that he left. Brilliant and insightful, Gulliver's Travels , is not simply a fun adventure story. Rather, each of the worlds that Gulliver visits exhibits the features of the world in which Swift lived--often delivered in a caricatured , inflated form that is the stock in trade of a satirist.
Courtiers are given influence with a king dependent on how well they are at jumping through hoops: a sideswipe at politics. Thinkers have their head in the clouds while others suffer: a representation of intellectuals of Swift's time. And then, most tellingly, humanity's self-regard is punctured when we are portrayed as the beastly and incoherent Yahoos.
By using ThoughtCo, you accept our. If for us Travel now means consumption, then it still meant discovery. But in all discoveries there is some degree of presumptuousness. And this is what bothered Swift. But this book is a journey in itself: Travel into Acerbity. Each part becomes more acidic and sour than the previous one. And if the Victorians found it indecent we have to admit that there is a fair amount of stripping in this book, but not of clothes. Swift is stripping human nature. For apart from the hilarious and highly creative stories, the sum of reflections on the relativity of some of our beliefs, which we hold as absolute, constitutes a fully developed treatise on us.
The Fantastic and Utopian character is disguised by Swift's framing with exact dates each of the four trips. Gulliver sets off on the 4th of May and returns from his final trip on the 5th of December And another adamantly denied that the whole thing could be true!! The third trip, to the Land of Laputa some knowledge of Spanish helps in understanding this title is an amusing diatribe against mathematicians and academics. A good reader of Swift must be willing to embrace self-parody. The fourth and final trip is the most controversial one, since it is a direct blow at the arrogance of human nature.
In spite of the irony and satire, his writing reads as coming directly from the pen of Mister Common Sense. Swift wrote in a limpid form, keeping a perfect pace that accompanied an impeccable stream of clear thinking. Swift was known for his conviction on the appropriate use of language: That the use of speech was to make us understand one another, and to receive information of facts; now if any one said the thing which was not, these ends were defeated.
And to make sure of this, he would read aloud to his servants to confirm that his text would be understood. He kept his humour until the end, and this is what he wrote for his own epitaph. He gave the little wealth he had, To build a House for Fools and Mad. I close this book feeling a great respect for the smart, polite Houyhnhnms who enjoy a level of wisdom and common sense that should be the envy of all of us. View all 50 comments. Aug 03, Lori rated it it was ok Shelves: fiction. Oh man. This book was sheer torture.
The writing was dry and bland and boring. Swift had some really interesting ideas - An island of people no larger than your finger. Another island with people that are 60 feet tall. A floating island, an island of scientists, the island of Yahoos I came very close to putting this novel down many many times. I admit to not being a fan of early, victorian literature, but this was just painful. View all 36 comments. Jan 07, Jason Koivu rated it liked it Shelves: fantasy , humor , fiction. So much more than just a fantastical tale of a man journeying to mystical lands. This is thinly veiled satire A seafaring Englishman ends up in four fairytale worlds where people are small, gigantic, smarties in the maths, and where people are horses.
By the second journey you'd think he'd be done with all this, but in the end he's done with humans and has trouble living amongst his own kind. Written in the old style where listing off occurrences constituted an adventure and a perfec So much more than just a fantastical tale of a man journeying to mystical lands. Written in the old style where listing off occurrences constituted an adventure and a perfectly well constructed story, Gulliver's Travels can be at times a tedious read.
It's filled with a laundry list of actions "I did this and then I did this" , and when you think some tension or conflict is a brewin' you get simple expedients flatly stated "I was faced with an obstacle and so I overcame it by doing this. However, if you've come to this book looking for condemnation of the human race's worst foibles, you've come to the right place. Swift dispatches venom towards the leeches of humanity. Lawyers, for instance, get blasted left, right and center.
I'm one of those people that feels we're not much better, and sometimes not any better, than base animals, so I was okay with the author's bashing of my fellow man. Those who don't understand anything beyond "Humans! We're 1! Regardless of its faults, I'm glad I finally got around to reading the original, full-length version.
In school I read an abridged and sanitized version, which left out all the mentions of genitalia and bodily functions. This is much better with all the pee and tits included! View all 6 comments. Dec 20, Manny rated it really liked it Shelves: parody-homage , well-i-think-its-funny , too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts , the-goodreads-experience. Another excellent invention of the Laputan Academy is a kind of fellowship or club, which they call in their language Sdaerdoog, or superior literature; and indeed the name does not belie the thing, for it is quite the most superior manner of enjoying literature yet devized.
Noting that every man will be well acquainted with the great books of the world, yet few have the inclination to read them, the Laputan savants have ordained a scheme, no less ingenious than equitable, whereby this onerous d Another excellent invention of the Laputan Academy is a kind of fellowship or club, which they call in their language Sdaerdoog, or superior literature; and indeed the name does not belie the thing, for it is quite the most superior manner of enjoying literature yet devized.
Noting that every man will be well acquainted with the great books of the world, yet few have the inclination to read them, the Laputan savants have ordained a scheme, no less ingenious than equitable, whereby this onerous duty is divided among the members of the club. On completing the perusal of a book, the reader composes a short pamphlet, that they term a "weiver", containing all the knowledge a gentleman of good sense and education may learn from the writing in question.
This he then distributes to his fellows, who can can now read a score of weivers in the time they would perforce have laid down on the reading of a single tome. There are members of the Academy who do naught but read weivers the length of the day; it is impossible to exaggerate the prodigious extent of their learning, which would be the envy of any Oxford or Cambridge professor. View all 47 comments. Nov 20, Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing. Lemuel Gulliver was the first who discovered the theory of relativity: he comprehended that everything in the world is relative therefore while amongst Lilliputians he is a giant, amongst Brobdingnagians he is a midget.
Eccentricity excellently stands against the erosion of time — much better than any fashion. But it takes a genius to see everything ordinary and commonplace in a bizarre light and to make it withstand the ages. Everyone knows how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts Lemuel Gulliver was the first who discovered the theory of relativity: he comprehended that everything in the world is relative therefore while amongst Lilliputians he is a giant, amongst Brobdingnagians he is a midget.
Everyone knows how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences; whereas by his contrivance, the most ignorant person at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, may write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, law, mathematics and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study. He then led me to the frame, about the sides whereof all his pupils stood in ranks. It was twenty foot square, placed in the middle of the room.
The superficies was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others. They were all linked together by slender wires. These bits of wood were covered on every square with papers pasted on them; and on these papers were written all the words of their language in their several moods, tenses, and declensions, but without any order. The professor then desired me to observe, for he was going to set his engine at work.
Rejoice, Jonathan Swift was an inventor of a computer and he was the first programmer! Up against a foe like that, Swift teases with barely veiled blasphemy and sedation, all in the hopes of making the reader uncomfortable enough to possibly fart out an actual thought of their own. The plot of the book is familiar enough to most: a seemingly innocuous account of the travels and travails of a polite and resourceful British naval surgeon as he visits exotic locales not to be found on any early 18th century map.
What follows is one of the most disparaging denouements on the human condition that this particular reader has ever encountered.
Gulliver’s Travels | Summary, Assessment, & Facts | uketerinucuz.tk
A hilarious but sobering remedy for any wayward soul who still has faith in humanity. View all 12 comments. Jul 17, Paul E. This was a re-read of an old favourite. I fell in love with this book in my teens and have returned to it a few times since my teens were a long time ago.
Jonathan Swift was a satirist of the first order. While you can read this as a silly fantasy story it works on two levels and the first time I read it as a pre-teen I enjoyed it purely as a silly fantasy tale virtually everything in this book has a double-meaning. As with most, if not all, of the best satirists, Swift's commentaries are bot This was a re-read of an old favourite. As with most, if not all, of the best satirists, Swift's commentaries are both hilarious and boiling-water-to-the-face scathing.
The book is intelligent, hilarious and barely conceals a seething rage in the author's heart that is aimed like a burning arrow at the society that surrounded him. View all 7 comments. Jan 18, Andrew rated it it was ok. Glad to get the references now: although I could have just read Wikipedia: the Lilliputians are small, the Brobdignagians big, the flying city is whatever, the Houhynhyns are really great although he's pretty unpersuasive on this -- why are they so great?
Gulliver grows to love horses so much that he can't speak to his own family when he gets home -- I didn't buy it; I just think he's a misanthrope , and I suppose the most significant use of reading the Glad to get the references now: although I could have just read Wikipedia: the Lilliputians are small, the Brobdignagians big, the flying city is whatever, the Houhynhyns are really great although he's pretty unpersuasive on this -- why are they so great? Gulliver grows to love horses so much that he can't speak to his own family when he gets home -- I didn't buy it; I just think he's a misanthrope , and I suppose the most significant use of reading the book is to understand the etymology of the word "Yahoo.
But the book: not much there. It's a methodical, list-like satire on travel books which are themselves dull. No plot, and no character development to speak of except the persuasion of Gulliver that horses are better than people because people are so awful. He dwells at length on how awful people are, but in the end this just made me think Gulliver was a nasty sort of person who relishes big PJ-O'Rourke-ish generalizations.
If I want to hate people, I'll get on a subway. I want books to help me do more than that. View 1 comment. Everyone remembers poor Gulliver in breeches and three-cornered hat, pinned down with cords on a beach, by an army of minute soldiers. This is indeed an astonishing book.
The name of Jonathan Swift is omitted, as well as the fact that the whole narrative is a heap of whoppers from cover to cover. Through the four parts of this book, Gulliver first discovers the islands of Lilliput and Blefuscu, with its diminutive inhabitants, off the coast of Java if you ever fancy going there, the narrator provides a few maps and GPS coordinates ; he then sails to the West coast of America and discovers Brobdingnag, where people are, on the contrary, of gigantic proportions; later on, he travels across the Pacific Ocean and visits the flying island of Laputa no pun intended?
On his last trip, around New-Holland aka Australia , he travels to the idyllic island of the neighing and rational Houyhnhnms and of the despicable Yahoos — the most politically loaded and, in my opinion, best part of this book. A total of seven discoveries. The universal ridicule and relentless attacks aim at practically everything, in a sort of encyclopaedic undertaking: nobility titles, impractical scientific achievements and Royal Academies, philosophical jargon, the quackery of physicians, the general falsehood that runs among lawyers, the foolish wish for a long life, European politics and wars, the English constitution, Western colonialism, human grandeur i.
It is, all in all, an essential book on the human condition. View 2 comments. Sep 05, James rated it really liked it Shelves: 1-fiction , 4-written-preth-century , 2-fic-fantasy-and-scifi. Book Review If you've never heard of Jonathan Swift before, perhaps this will jog your memory In one of his other famous works, A Modest Proposal , he offers a suggestion that we should eat babies in order to survive.
You're probably thinking I'm a nut job for talking about this. But a few things to remember Swift is Irish. So it's OK. They can say those sort of things and get away with. And so can I. Because I'm Irish.
- Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Cash in on the Future of the Game.
- San Francisco : la côte (French Edition).
- Texte im Englischunterricht (German Edition).
So let's relax a bit. A Modest Proposal is not the point of this review. Swift's other famous work, Gulliver's Travels , is the point of this review. Yes, you read that correctly. The government controlled everything.
He was a rebel. But a good one. And his works are absolutely fantastic. On to Gulliver's Travels. This may be where the word "yahoo" comes from. LOL This is one where I just don't want to ruin the story. Gulliver encounters several new species of people on his travels, most notably the Brobdingnag folks and the Lilliputians. Basically, the land of really tiny people and really huge people. But don't think this is a non-politically correct book, where he's saying negative things about giants, midgets, short people, tall people, etc.
It's satire and years old. It's the language of the past. He's actually "standing up for the [wo]man. Yes, its language is a little stilted. And it's written in a way where sometimes the classics can be painful. I admit it. I love them, but I admit it. If you need something satirical, read a few chapters. Pick the first two voyages. It's a bit lengthy, but you'll get the drift even skimming a little bit.
Everything he has to say is still mostly pertinent to how we feel about government today, just different priorities and levels of occurrence. But when you can input all the things we're feeling and thinking into a entirely new made-up race or breed of people, showing the silliness of what is going on in politics and culture, it's a good laugh worth experiencing. It was one of the fastest published and absorbed works of literature in history. People ate it up!
America wasn't even a country when this was published!!! About Me For those new to me or my reviews I write A LOT. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note : All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them.
Many thanks to their original creators. Feb 21, Loretta rated it liked it Shelves: classic , the-great-american-read , myreading-challenge. I didn't really like this book. I toyed with giving the book two stars but because some parts were somewhat entertaining, I decided on giving the book three stars. It was very hard to get into and some parts were slow and they dragged on forever. Glad I can say that I finally read it but it definitely wouldn't be one I'd ever pick up again. View all 3 comments. Apr 13, di rated it liked it Shelves: classic , books-list.
This book was written in It's pretty old. I anticipated bland writing check with a LOT of detailed and seemingly insignificant description check and no real story line check. Helps to be prepared for it. I find it also helps to read an old book out of a vintage edition--it's just that much more fun. Then you can build up a handy sense of romanticism about old literature and float through the dull parts. My copy is from with a dust cover that's falling apart and that burnt paper This book was written in My copy is from with a dust cover that's falling apart and that burnt paper smell.
Most people associate it with giants, little tiny people and talking horses and generally assume that it's a children's book. But really it is far from it. I have read Swift's A Modest Proposal and Other Satirical Works wherein he proposes, in a voice of pure reasonableness, that the solution to the starvation and overcrowding of Ireland is for the poor to eat their own babies 'a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled'.
So I am familiar with Jonathan Swift as a cutting satirist. And that's really what Gulliver's Travels is: layer upon layer of satire. In one sense, it's a parody of travel writing. In the s explorers were discovering the 'weird and the wonderful' and writing exaggerated literature about it. Gulliver insists that he is telling just the 'plain facts' while reporting his ridiculously fantastical accounts.
And the bland writing style oh yes it is bland is all part of the parody. The giant king, after hearing Gulliver rave about England, concludes that the English people are 'the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth'. From voting to taxes to arithmetic and science, to gaming and alcohol and war and weaponry, to the legal system and the plight of the poor amidst the excessive expenditure and corruption of the upper classes.
He covers it all. So it's not really the easiest read. There's no story to get hooked in--it's like reading a series of letters or essays--and there is NO dialogue in the whole book. But it's clever, just because Jonathan Swift is clever. And the dry wit is amusing.
So, I'd say 3. If you like satire and are interested in English history and politics through literature, you'd like it. But better yet read A Modest Proposal--it's funnier and a lot shorter. May 24, Czarny Pies rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Earthlings. Shelves: favorites , english-lit. Every time one reads Gulliver's Travels one learns something new. I have read it four times and have barely scratched the surface.
The first two sections on the land of the little people and of the giants get the most attention from moviemakers because of their fairy tale qualities and the satire that is pertinent in any age. However, as my professor in first year English said, the important thing is to devote equally energy and attention to the last two sections of the book which are as strong Every time one reads Gulliver's Travels one learns something new.
However, as my professor in first year English said, the important thing is to devote equally energy and attention to the last two sections of the book which are as strong as the first two.
Swift is the greatest satirist in English literature, possibly in world literature. He attacks the arbitrary use of power, gratuitous cruelty, dogmatism, selfishness, the instinctive recourse of our states to go to war, and blind faith in science. He criticizes humans for being unable to see the truth behind the statements of it leaders, to understand the strengths of our language and the tendency of humans to project virtues on people and things that they do not possess. This is all too much for one reading. I advise reading Gulliver's Travels once every ten years.
Avoid movie versions like the plague. Films require drama and structure. Gulliver's Travels is a wonderful compendium of arguments and counter-arguments. Dec 05, Mike Lindgren rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction. It is difficult to describe what Swift's masterpiece means to me. Gulliver's Travels is a book that I will probably be grappling with for the rest of my life, and I mean that in a good way.
It is a savage jeu d'esprit, a book about religion with no mention of God, a philosophical end-game written in unadorned prose, a deeply pessimistic statement on human nature, a lacerating attack on the primacy of Reason in Englightenment thought, a pacifist tract, and, yes, one of the funniest books ever wri It is difficult to describe what Swift's masterpiece means to me. It is a savage jeu d'esprit, a book about religion with no mention of God, a philosophical end-game written in unadorned prose, a deeply pessimistic statement on human nature, a lacerating attack on the primacy of Reason in Englightenment thought, a pacifist tract, and, yes, one of the funniest books ever written.
An earlier Penguin edition had a foreword by British critic and MP! Michael Foot that is one of the most penetrating pieces of literary analysis I have ever read. Dec 22, Aubrey rated it liked it Shelves: 3-star , r-goodreads , reviewed , r I was in error in giving this two stars back when I read this in high school, but not by much. Back then I was bored out of my gourd, here and now I'm done with "I will instinctively know the truth due to my super white able male powers.
This is the perfect definition of a "classic": male, European, old, punches down on everything in the names of "sati I was in error in giving this two stars back when I read this in high school, but not by much. This is the perfect definition of a "classic": male, European, old, punches down on everything in the names of "satire" and "truth" at the expense of ideological stratification, and has enough political statistics melded with workable reality to make an engaging narrative out of a list of opinions. I'm not going to muddle myself with the whole "separation of author and story" rigmarole and indict Swift with anything, but the fictional Gulliver is fair game.
His whole "If anyone is offended at my truth they are wrong because look how prettily I write," at the end of it is begging for a "lol nice try. He frowns on colonialism, indicts manipulation of the legal system in the interests of financial engorgement, and views war as an inexcusable horror conducted for the most insipid of reasons. The problem is his whole issue with thinking in general, or leastwise with thinking that he is unable to instantly understand and appreciate for the full measure of its worth, ironic when considering his upholding of Socrates. His is a very "throw the baby out with the bathwater" approach, albeit with some inconsistencies that make his position a typical one in regards to goodwill towards humanity: so long as humanity fits in its proper places of my complex determination without complaint, all's well that ends well.
This makes the call for equal education of women alongside a general disparagement of their "typical" hint: patriarchally indoctrinated qualities, in addition to a holistic condemnation of humanity as modeled on those with non-European features and especial disparagement of redheads, of little paradigmal worth.
Outside of that, I learned a great deal about Swift's time in terms of England's social, political, economic, religious, and international relations in regards to various other countries. I also understand why the first bits of being Gulliver being tied to the ground are the most popular, for here is where Gulliver sticks to what he knows without aspiring to a hierarchical strata of human relations that smacks of the "Jewish Question" more than anything else which officially started around 24 years after this publication, rather than my previous assumption of The more you know.
In light of that, Gulliver Swift if you're not squeamish to me is much like how Tolkien is: knowledgeable in the things knowledge is usually defined by, xenophobic as shown by their respective Houyhnhnms and Elves, and as feudalistic as is permissible by polite society and his own personal characteristics. Tolkien, however, surpasses Swift I give up in both quality of story and treatment of women, so while I'm fairly certain a conversation with the former would be a chilly one on account of ideological difference, the latter would probably throw a hissy fit if I made an attempt to disagree.
The best thing I got out of this reread was the discovery of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, whose critically brilliant response to Swift's misogyny was published anonymously and genius socioeconomic indictment entitled "Epistle from Mrs. Yonge to Her Husband" had to wait nearly years until publication. I'm all for truth and goodwill towards humanity, but paying attention to who is writing, whom is being passed over, and other such demographical matters that go into the determination of "truth" and "goodwill" is essential if one wants to say anything at all.
Forbearing ownership of a fundamental and unchanging "truthdar" is also a good way to go. View all 8 comments. Feb 09, Jacob Appel rated it it was amazing. Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" remains as relevant today as it did in the eighteenth century, which is rather impressive for a work of satire. How our culture has reached the point where thousands of Goodreads readers rate this book a 1 or 2 is incomprehensible to me -- and deeply unsettling. It makes me fear that Swift was correct about the Yahoos. This is my fourth journey with Lemuel Gulliver. My grandmother read of him to me as a child; I read about him for an eighteenth century literature cour Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" remains as relevant today as it did in the eighteenth century, which is rather impressive for a work of satire.
My grandmother read of him to me as a child; I read about him for an eighteenth century literature course in college; I read about him again in my late 20s; and then this week, I discovered a heavily annotated paperback copy from in the basement of my apartment building, and was immediately distracted from my daily life.
Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World by Jonathan Swift
Of note, this copy of the book per the title page inscription once belonged to: "Jeff Hodge, Box , Amherst"; if you read this review and happen to know him, please put him in touch with me and I will gladly send his book back to him. As for Gulliver In earlier readings, I confess I enjoyed the imaginative elements of the tale as much, if not more, than the satire: Lilliput vs. Blefuscu, the mechanics of the floating island of Laputa, the wild inventions designed in the Grand Academy of Lagado.
Swift's imagination is vast and clever, and Gulliver is highly sympathetic no easy task when describing a creature who is, by design, largely reflective and reactive , although I do feel bad for his neglected wife and children. His wanderlust may be psychologically accurate and necessary, but it is not endearing. Yet the relevance of his satire is what makes this as much a novel for the 21st century as much as for Georgian England, and one doesn't have to know the first thing about Whigs and Tories to appreciate it.
In the era of so-called fake news, there is still a compelling wisdom in the shock of the Houyhnhnms on hearing "the thing which is not". And who can resist both the humor or contemporary relevance of the description of learning at Lagado, which might as easily apply to many top American colleges today and possibly our political authorities as well : "In these colleges the professors contrive new rules and methods of agriculture and building, and new instruments, and tools for all trades and manufactures; whereby, as they undertake, one man shall do the work of ten; a palace may be built in a week, of materials so durable as to last for ever without repairing.
All the fruits of the earth shall come to maturity at whatever season we think fit to choose, and increase a hundred fold more than they do at present; with innumerable other happy proposals. The only inconvenience is, that none of these projects are yet brought to perfection; and in the mean time, the whole country lies miserably waste, the houses in ruins, and the people without food or clothes His criticism of slavery, class structure, colonialism, gender inequalities in education, and a whole host of troublesome conventions of his age are rather striking.
As impressive was his willingness to risk the consequences of publishing a book that directly challenged the ruling party, the established seats of power in the ministry and courts, and the social customs of his fellow citizens. Swift, like Gulliver, is an honest writer who keeps his fellow human beings honest. Needless to say, this is not a "children's book"; however, it's precisely the sort of book that children should read at an early age and then revisit at multiple times during their lives. A very frustrating book, in parts brilliant, in others annoyingly tedious and just boring. Overall and having said that I did like it and am glad that I persevered.
The hardest work and most boring were the passages concerning voyages to: Lilliput and Brobdingnag - once the novelty and dilemmas of being tiny in a world of 'giants' and vice versa had been established, there were what seemed like endless passages concerning how small things were or how big things were at the respective destinations A very frustrating book, in parts brilliant, in others annoyingly tedious and just boring.
The hardest work and most boring were the passages concerning voyages to: Lilliput and Brobdingnag - once the novelty and dilemmas of being tiny in a world of 'giants' and vice versa had been established, there were what seemed like endless passages concerning how small things were or how big things were at the respective destinations - unfortunately this became somewhat tedious and repetitive in the extreme.
However - I am extremely glad that I persevered as the voyages to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib and Japan were in the main fascinating and as prototype political satire, effective and hugely influential. Shelves: politics. Biting political satire 9 September I'm sure many of us are familiar with the tale of the sailor from England who after a shipwreck finds himself bound to the beach on an unknown island surrounded by a race of people who are substantially smaller that him.
Some of you are probably even familiar with the not so recent Jack Black film which I have seen but can't remember much of it beyond Jack Black heading out in a speed boat from Miami and getting caught in a storm. From a very young age I Biting political satire 9 September I'm sure many of us are familiar with the tale of the sailor from England who after a shipwreck finds himself bound to the beach on an unknown island surrounded by a race of people who are substantially smaller that him. From a very young age I have always seen this story as a children's book, however it wasn't until I reached university that I discovered that it is actually biting political satire.
It is interesting how a book is released in one age and people see it for what it is however as time passes the original intention of the book takes a back seat and the story ends up taking an entirely new meaning. Mind you, the children's tales that we tend to be familiar with are quite watered down to the point that the original meaning has been lost and most of them only tell the story of Lilliput. It was quite coincidental that in Bible study were were looking at the book of Revelation, another text whose meaning has completely changed throughout the ages, and I immediately thought of Gulliver's Travels.
What was originally supposed to be a book that was designed to provided comfort to persecuted Christians in Asia-minor has suddenly become, in some circles, a detailed description of the end of the Earth.
However, I'm not writing about the book of Revelation, I'm writing about Gulliver's Travels, so I will try to remain focused on the task at hand. The problem with this book is that there is so much in it that simply writing a review on Goodreads likes cannot do it justice, so I have decided that it will go onto my 'read again at sometime and write a detailed blog post' pile though the only other book currently on that pile is Plato 's Symposium. Anyway, what I will attempt to do is look at each of his journeys individually and make some comments therein.
Before I do that though I probably should say a couple of things about the book as a whole. Here we have a traveller heading off into the unknown and discovering societies that are completely alien to our own. At the time much of the world was still unexplored, so Swift creates these undiscovered societies that exist in the unknown corners most of them being islands in the uncharted ocean.
Parts of it even reminded me of Star Trek, where we have the crew of the Enterprise heading off to alien planets and discovering many and varied civilisations thereupon. Another that I picked up as I was reading some of the commentaries was how it stands apart from Robinson Crusoe. In Dafoe's book we have a story of the individual overcoming his struggles to make a life for himself. However it is suggested that Gulliver is different in that Swift is suggesting that it is not the individual but societies that count.
However, as we shall see, none of these societies is worthy to be called some sort of Utopia. Even the Houynhnhnms have a dark side about them. The other thing we see is the slow descent of Gulliver into madness. At first he decides to head off to sea for an adventure, particularly since his business in London failed, however after he returns every time he immediately wants to head off again.
In fact it seems as if the time he remains in England becomes ever shorter. When he returns the final time, after being exiled by the Houynhnhms, he becomes a recluse and spends the rest of his life talking to horses. This descent is also mimicked by the way he lands up in each of these lands. The first time it is due to a freak storm, the second time he is abandoned, the third time he is attacked by pirates, and the forth time his crew mutinies which is probably not surprising since the crew that he ended up collecting were probably the last people you would want as the crew of your boat.
Lilliput This is the first realm, and the most well known since most of the productions use this section of the book. Lilliput is probably the closest realm to that of England, and in fact each of the characters represent one of the major figures in English political life at the time. They even have the land of Blefuscu, which is a representation of France.
In a way the realm, and in particular the politics, of Lilliput is nothing short of farcical. Swift does not hold back in his criticism of the landscape in which he lives. In a way it is no difference than the world we live in today, and many of us have little respect for our politicians, seeing them as nothing more than a bunch of corrupt clowns. The people of Lilliput and Blefuscu are at war, and the reason behind the war is one of the most absurd reasons around — they both hold different interpretations of a holy book. While we might laugh at the fact that the Lilliputians and the Belfuscians fight over how an egg should be opened, this is sadly what we see with religion today.
Everybody has their own interpretation, and sadly there are people who are willing to go to war with each other over their interpretation. The problem with religion is that followers generally resort to a higher power to support their beliefs, and because it is such a fundamental part of their lives, to challenge such a deeply held belief can cause some quite adverse reactions. It is sort of like confronting somebody on meth — the drug causes them to create this reality that is not necessarily true, and when that reality is challenged, the result can be incredibly violent.
Sometimes I wander whether many Christians, especially the violent ones, remember Jesus' saying about turning the other cheek. Swift also seems to have a problem with imperialism. When the Belfuscians launch an invasion of Lilliput, Gulliver heads out, grabs all of their boats, and brings then to shore, effectively castrating them in one swoop. Upon seeing victory, the Emperor of Lilliput immediately wants to subjugate the Belfuscians, however Gulliver steps in and forbids it.
Sure, he may have saved the Lilliputians, however occupying their land is not going to solve any of their problems — it's only going to make it worse. As such the emperor is not happy and finds Gulliver guilty of treason — it seems that kings and emperors are just as blind when it comes to war and politics. Brobdingnag One of the things that you will notice about Gullivers travels is that it is a story of contrasts — in fact it is a story of opposites.
In Lilliput Gulliver is the big man around town. His towering presence dominates the scene - to the point where he is recruited as a weapon of war. Further, he is uncontrollable by the Lilliputians. The opposite is the case when it comes of Brobdingnag. Here he is tiny. In fact the entire situation has been reversed to where he is the size that the Lilliputians were to him.
Also the political situation differs as well — in Brobdingnag there is no political maneuvering, and in fact the king and queen are seen as innocent rulers innocent in that they have no understanding of the political world — and neither do their subjects. Being tiny Gulliver is an object of curiosity, and in fact he spends time as being little more than a carnival attraction.
The roles have been completely reversed. In Lilliput he was the big man, and even though he couldn't necessarily change the ideas of the Lilliputians, he did have an influence. Now this has all been taken away from him and in effect he is powerless.