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Gullivers Travels (Childrens Golden Library No.21)

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Hardcover and dust jacket, as pictured; same ISBN, different cover art (f-S)


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Hardcover and dust jacket, as pictured; same ISBN, different cover art (f-S)

30 review for Gullivers Travels (Childrens Golden Library No.21)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Let’s face it…. Jonathan Swift was a snarky, snarky bitch. Gulliver’s Travels is like a giant pimp slap across the human race face and I am so glad I finally read this in a non-school, non-structured environment because I had a whole lot more fun with it this time around. Swift’s wit, insight and delivery are often, though not always, remarkable and he crams more well thought out jabs and toe-steppings in this slim 250 page novel than I would have thought possible in a work twice this long.     T Let’s face it…. Jonathan Swift was a snarky, snarky bitch. Gulliver’s Travels is like a giant pimp slap across the human race face and I am so glad I finally read this in a non-school, non-structured environment because I had a whole lot more fun with it this time around. Swift’s wit, insight and delivery are often, though not always, remarkable and he crams more well thought out jabs and toe-steppings in this slim 250 page novel than I would have thought possible in a work twice this long.     This is certainly a classic that I believe people should read and experience for themselves outside of any required scholarly endeavors because I think that many of the ills, injustices and idiocies that Swift addresses in this novel are still, unfortunately, very relevant today. While Swift is short on resolutions or ideas for improvement (one of my disappointments) he does a marvelous job of exposing the problems that he perceived as existing within the 18th Century world, most particularly England, and opening the door for a more expansive, popular discussion on these issues. Kudos for that, Mr Swift.    From a plot perspective, Gulliver’s Travels is a series of adventures by Lemuel Gulliver to various undiscovered, fictional worlds that act as a backdrop for Swift, through his main character/mouthpiece, to scathe, rebuke, poke fun at and/or question all manner of political, religious  and social institutions, philosophies and groups. Everything from blind adherence to political ideologies or religious dogma, to ideological intolerance, to arbitrary social divisions and even the non-practical aspects of the rampant scientific explorations so in vogue at the time. Few groups were spared from Swift's caustic lens and many of his attacks are vehement bordering on brutal.  Good. That is how such a work should be IMHO.    Overall, I thought this was very worthwhile and many of Swift’s commentaries were piercing,  brilliant and exceptionally well done. Some of my personal favorites include:    ** Parodying the massive waste of energy and resources expended in political infighting in Great Britain between the Whigs and Tories by having the two Lilliputian political parties separated solely by the aesthetic choice between wearing high heels and low heels. I can only imagine how this parody played out among the MP of England at the time.    ** Making light of the tremendous importance placed on seemingly trivial differences in religious doctrine that often lead to the most acrimonious wars and civil strife by explaining that the genesis of a long and bloody war between rival factions of Lilliputians stems from a disagreement over where to crack eggs. One group break their eggs on the small end (Small Endians) and the other break their eggs on the large end (Big Endians). What I found most clever about this attack was the use of an ambiguous reference in each side's “holy book” that states, “all true believers break their eggs at the convenient end.” That is just about perfect satire Mr. Swift.   ** A biting jab at traditions and customs that people cling to long after there is no practical reason to do so is eloquently made when Gulliver describes the Lilliputians custom of burying their dead head first. They bury their dead with their heads directly downwards, because they hold an opinion that in eleven thousand moons they are all to rise again, in which period the earth (which they conceive to be flat) will turn upside down, and by this means they shall, at their resurrection, be found ready standing on their feet. The learned among them confess the absurdity of this doctrine, but the practice still continues, in compliance to the vulgar. When Swift is on his game, he is very, very effective. ** A wonderful anti-war statement is made through the horror and disgust with which the King of the giant Brobdingnagians (their size depicted as representing moral superiority) reacts to Gulliver’s description of gunpowder and his offer to teach the Brobdingnagians the formula for producing it: I told him of ‘an invention, discovered between three and four hundred years ago, to make a certain powder…[t]hat a proper quantity of this powder…would drive a ball of iron or lead, with such violence and speed, as nothing was able to sustain its force. That the largest balls thus discharged, would not only destroy whole ranks of an army at once, but batter the strongest walls to the ground, sink down ships, with a thousand men in each, to the bottom of the sea, and when linked together by a chain, would cut through masts and rigging, divide hundreds of bodies in the middle, and lay all waste before them. That we often put this powder into large hollow balls of iron, and discharged them by an engine into some city we were besieging, which would rip up the pavements, tear the houses to pieces, burst and throw splinters on every side, dashing out the brains of all who came near… ...The king was struck with horror at the description I had given of those terrible engines, and the proposal I had made. ‘He was amazed, how so impotent and groveling an insect as I…could entertain such inhuman ideas, and in so familiar a manner, as to appear wholly unmoved at all the scenes of blood and desolation which I had painted as the common effects of those destructive machines; whereof,’ he said, ‘some evil genius, enemy to mankind, must have been the first contriver.’ As for himself, he protested, that although few things delighted him so much as new discoveries in art or in nature, yet he would rather lose half his kingdom, than be privy to such a secret; which he commanded me, as I valued any life, never to mention any more. Sorry for the long quote, but I thought that was a particularly moving passage.   ** My personal favorite (purely from an enjoyment standpoint) is the depiction of the scientifically adept and common-senseless Laputans  who exemplify Swift’s serious gripe against scientific research that doesn’t have a practical and foreseeable benefit to society. The first man I saw was of a meagre aspect, with sooty hands and face…[H]e has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers. He told me, he did not doubt, that, in eight years more, he should be able to supply the governor’s gardens with sunshine, at a reasonable rate…. Gulliver’s exploration of the scientific academy of Laputa was my favorite part of the novel and I thought Swift’s satiric chops were at there sharpest in relaying the societal dysfunction of the Laputans.    Now I must drop some ice in the bath water.  As much as there was to enjoy in this work, I was not as blown away by it as I would have liked to have been. For one thing, I thought that Swift’s prose was merely serviceable and I didn’t find much in the way of eloquence in his delivery. It was missing the ear-pleasing lyrical quality that I have come to expect when reading classic literature. The writing wasn’t bad by any means but it wasn’t as enjoyable or memorable as I had hoped. This may be an unfair critique given that this book’s legacy lies with its content, but the lack of beautiful prose kept me from being able to enjoy the interludes and non-meaty passages of the work.      Also, some of Swift’s critiques fell a bit flat and didn't resonate with me as much as those mentioned above. For instance, the recasting of famous historical figures like Alexander, Hannibal and Caesar as being more subject to the moral frailties of the human animal than the established texts would have us believe. Swift uses this as the springboard to discuss the less than wholesome practices of securing political power today and that is a good thing. I just found the use of the legends of antiquity unnecessary and not particularly effective. That’s probably a personal bias of mine as I have always found those figures fascinating to read about.      Here's my biggest problem. One of the principal arguments that Swift makes in his novel is that balance and moderation are the keys to success both individually and as a people. Extremes of behavior and belief are the seeds from which disastrous consequences are born, according to Swift. That’s easy to say and it has an attractive ring to it, but I wish Swift had done a little more with it. This walkmy right into my biggest complaint about the story…the ending.   I thought that the ambiguity of Gulliver’s condition at the end of the novel was a bit of a cop out. It appears as though the reader is left to determine whether Gulliver was (1) a man disgusted with humanity as a result of his exposure to the morally righteous and logically rational Houyhnhnm or (2) a man whose ill-conceived and intemperate worship of, and infatuation with the Houyhnhnm made him just another unbalanced yahoo whose loss of perspective and left him deranged.     Part of the answer of this would stem from determining whether Swift was holding up the Houyhnhnms as a model to follow or whether their own passionless adherence to logic was itself a subject of parody. However, as with the end, I think Swift was less than certain of his position (or of the position he wanted to state) and thus left too much ambiguity to the reader.   Now I understand that often these kinds of soft endings are perfect as they allow the reader to interpret the work for themselves. However, here where Swift has been bludgeoning the reader with his opinions throughout the entire work, to suddenly punt and not clearly express a case for his protagonist seems to be a miss.   That said, I am the first to acknowledge that it is anywhere from a distinct possibility to a metaphysical certainty that the “miss” here is on my part, but that was how I saw it. I wanted Swift to wrap up and summarize the effect of the journey on Gulliver and provide a statement about what should be drawn from his experience so that a better road could be paved for using his travels to address the problems on which it shined its light.     3.0 to 3.5 stars. Still…HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Okay, I didn't finish this sucker. It was poor. I was kind of shocked. I was thinking why does no one point out that this is a giant rip off of Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Honey I Blew Up the Kid? It's painfully obvious. I don't see why this Danial Defoe mope has not had his ass sued, maybe he avoided that by writing his ripoff in a long ass frankly boring olde-worlde style so that all the lawyers would fall asleep before they got their writ typed up. The other stuff that isn't Lillypoot and Bor Okay, I didn't finish this sucker. It was poor. I was kind of shocked. I was thinking why does no one point out that this is a giant rip off of Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Honey I Blew Up the Kid? It's painfully obvious. I don't see why this Danial Defoe mope has not had his ass sued, maybe he avoided that by writing his ripoff in a long ass frankly boring olde-worlde style so that all the lawyers would fall asleep before they got their writ typed up. The other stuff that isn't Lillypoot and Borodbynag or whatever is talking horses and shit and I'm pretty sure they're in Lord of the Rings so more ripoff although I never saw that movie all the way through because it's kind of boring and also kind of gay. ps - some real geek types have PMed me saying that Daniel Dafoe didn't write thia d it was Jonathon Swift. I mean, get a life. They're all dead right? they're like deader than dead. who cares. lol.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    "And he gave it for his opinion, "that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together." I don't think there will ever be a time when Gulliver's Travels doesn't feel like a perfect mirror of humankind. I remember the first time I read it, as a child. I was immeasurably impressed with the sudden insigh "And he gave it for his opinion, "that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together." I don't think there will ever be a time when Gulliver's Travels doesn't feel like a perfect mirror of humankind. I remember the first time I read it, as a child. I was immeasurably impressed with the sudden insight that things are small or great depending on comparison with other things, and that there are no absolute values. That knowledge, combined with the idea that you learn to understand yourself by seeing your peculiarities through the eyes of people who do not share your social and cultural background, helped me navigate my globetrotting childhood. When I reread the Travels as a grown-up, I focused more on the political satire, finding pleasure in discovering that the typical idiocies of my own time apparently had their correspondences centuries ago. Somehow, that made life easier to bear. But now I am beginning to wonder. Are the yahoos degenerating further? When will they hit rock bottom? And could we maybe ship off some of our worst yahoos to Lilliput, where they can claim they are great without lying? Thank Goodness there are authors like Swift, who are capable of making humanists in despair laugh on dark November nights after reading the never-ending misery called news. Oh Lordy, I wish they were fake. But they are likely to mirror the world - without the wit and irony that Swift added to make life endurable, enjoyable even! That is a quality in an author that is always needed, now more than ever! Yahooooooooooooooooo!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    This was my favorite required reading in high school (well, actually, probably tied with Animal Farm). It was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise. The reference points I had were cartoon retellings of this from my youth. I only really had an image of Gulliver vs the Lilliputians - and that was only the most basic "giant in a land full of very small people" storylines (well, they were trying to entertain children, so it doesn't have to get much more complex than that). But, the book is made u This was my favorite required reading in high school (well, actually, probably tied with Animal Farm). It was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise. The reference points I had were cartoon retellings of this from my youth. I only really had an image of Gulliver vs the Lilliputians - and that was only the most basic "giant in a land full of very small people" storylines (well, they were trying to entertain children, so it doesn't have to get much more complex than that). But, the book is made up of more stories than just Gulliver as a giant (hence the Travels - plural). The content of these stories is witty and not-so-thinly veiled political and social commentary. In the end, it didn't feel like required reading at all - it was a truly enjoyable adventure I was glad to take!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kalliope

    Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) writes towards the end of his book: ...an author perfectly blameless, against whom the tribe of answerers, considerers, observers, reflecters, detecters, remarkers, will never be able to find matter for exercising their talents. Had Swift known GR he would probably have included “reviewers” in the above sentence. This thought warns me against continuing any further with my review. But the Travels of Gullible Gulliver (1726) have made me laugh like no other book for a Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) writes towards the end of his book: ...an author perfectly blameless, against whom the tribe of answerers, considerers, observers, reflecters, detecters, remarkers, will never be able to find matter for exercising their talents. Had Swift known GR he would probably have included “reviewers” in the above sentence. This thought warns me against continuing any further with my review. But the Travels of Gullible Gulliver (1726) have made me laugh like no other book for a long time. And I want to share this. The introduction in my edition by Michael Foot was almost as funny. For Foot surveys the history of the reaction to Swift’s book, from its immediate huge success and popularity during the Enlightenment to the deprecating opinion shared by many, but not all (John Keats was one of the exceptions), in puritanical Victorian times. They were affronted by the shameful indecency their own minds projected onto Swift’s lines. Some of the quotes from Victorian responses made me laugh as heartily as Swift’s words. .. a monster, gibbering shrieks and gnashing imprecations against mankind – tearing down all shreds of modesty, past all sense of manliness and shame; filthy in word, filthy in thought, furious, raging, obscene. His rehabilitation started during WW1, beginning with a lecture in Cambridge in 1917. Gulliver’s attacks on war and the idiocies of nationalism would have met welcoming ears in that university hall. Some rejection still lingered for a while and surprisingly both George Orwell and Aldous Huxley were highly critical of Swift. Nowadays, many aspects of this book appeal strongly to our more cynical and detached age. What we have now is filtered by the Disney Cartoons and The Economist has chosen Gulliver as the title to its Travel Section. And of course, the company Yahoo also got its name from the most detestable of Swift’s characters. As everyone knows this is a book about travelling. The popularity of two of its four parts and their easy refashioning into tales for children disguise the fact that the book was written as a parody of the then prevailing travel writing. 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 1699 and returns from his final trip on the 5th of December 1715. May be it was this kind of specificity that made one of Swift’s contemporaries go and have a look at his Atlas to check where Lilliput was. And another adamantly denied that the whole thing could be true!! Apart from children, some mathematicians have also been delighted by Gulliver’s adventures (demonstrable proof). 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. And yet, this part is an excellent exposition of Swift’s thinking and his deep aversion of brutality and despotism. Apart from Swift’s exuberant imagination, I have greatly enjoyed his language. 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. And shew’d by one Satyric Touch, No Nation needed it so much. 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    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...but the execution was hard to appreciate. 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    So much more than just a fantastical tale of a man journeying to mystical lands. This is thinly veiled satire...super thin. 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. This is thinly veiled satire...super thin. 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 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.") After a time it all becomes trying and uninspiring, making the turning of pages ever more difficult. 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!" aren't going to like this. 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! PS: Check out my video review of Gulliver's Travels here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKpYD...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    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. 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 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!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Vacca

    It’s one of the stranger occurrences that Gulliver’s Travels is recognized more often than not as a fantastical adventure for the delight of children, when in actuality it is one of the bleakest condemnations of human beings to ever corrode a page. The Reverend Swift is a master of misanthropic satire, and even with the arsenal of footnotes (as this wonderful edition from Oxford Classics exhaustively supplies) essential for a well-rounded reading of GT, the Gentle Reader is still left staggering It’s one of the stranger occurrences that Gulliver’s Travels is recognized more often than not as a fantastical adventure for the delight of children, when in actuality it is one of the bleakest condemnations of human beings to ever corrode a page. The Reverend Swift is a master of misanthropic satire, and even with the arsenal of footnotes (as this wonderful edition from Oxford Classics exhaustively supplies) essential for a well-rounded reading of GT, the Gentle Reader is still left staggering to keep up with the immense range of the Author’s targets. Nothing is sacred in Swift’s world, besides that dim flicker of reason that most people dedicate their entire lives to trying to snuff out. 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. But what most people miss (including all the little tykes who have watched shitty movie adaptations, such as the one featuring the talents of Jack Black) is that as Gulliver makes his way through adventures with tiny people, giants and cities in the sky, he finds himself losing heart in his sincere attempts to explain and defend his country’s societal and moral mores, and by novel’s end is crushed with bitterness and disgust for the human race. The fatal thrust of Swift’s argument—which, as he declares in a letter to his pen pal, Alexander Pope, is to show that there is nothing rational about humans as rational animals—is delivered in Gulliver’s final travel to an utopia where talking horses encapsulate all the ideals we supposedly champion, while humans are nothing but a bunch of savage Yahoos. What follows is one of the most disparaging denouements on the human condition that this particular reader has ever encountered. A hilarious but sobering remedy for any wayward soul who still has faith in humanity.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paul E. Morph

    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. 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 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    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? because they don't have a word for lying? 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? because they don't have a word for lying? 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." I will now call people "Yahoos" with much more relish than I did before. 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Leonard Gaya

    Everyone remembers poor Gulliver in breeches and three-cornered hat, pinned down with cords on a beach, by an army of minute soldiers. A young boy’s nightmare, no doubt, but there is much more to this book than this rosy image, reproduced endlessly on the pediments of toy shops and theme parks. This is indeed an astonishing book. Gulliver’s Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World presents itself as the plain and faithful account of the voyages of Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon from Redriff a Everyone remembers poor Gulliver in breeches and three-cornered hat, pinned down with cords on a beach, by an army of minute soldiers. A young boy’s nightmare, no doubt, but there is much more to this book than this rosy image, reproduced endlessly on the pediments of toy shops and theme parks. This is indeed an astonishing book. Gulliver’s Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World presents itself as the plain and faithful account of the voyages of Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon from Redriff and a captain of ships. 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. Moreover, the straight-faced narrator, fooling his “candid” reader’s credulity, concludes the books and declares that he “rather chose to relate plain Matter of Fact in the simplest Manner and Style; because my principal Design was to inform, and not to amuse thee” (IV, 12). Swift’s novel — a masterful sham — is indeed written in the detailed and earnest manner of an ethnographic documentary. 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?) and Balnibarbi, as well as the necromancers of Glubbdubdrib, the immortals of Luggnagg, and finally Japan (spot the odd one out, if you can). 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. Each time, Gulliver’s ship is caught in a storm and shipwrecked, he lands on a strange island, meets the inhabitants, is the host of an important figure of that country, relates a couple of toilet-humour anecdotes, learns their tongue-twisting language, describes their strange manners, laws, gastronomy and architecture, provides — to his host’s great surprise and dismay — an account of the Europeans habits and customs. However, what makes Gulliver’s Travels one of the significant works of the early 18th century is, apart from the Irish clergyman’s zany imagination in devising fictional countries and populations, his astounding deadpan humour, tongue-in-cheek mockery, and even savage assault, against his contemporaries and human nature in general. 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.e. vanity) itself, and — apologies to half my Goodreads friends! — the fake gloss of women’s skin. Some of the fiercest invectives against the human race are, of course, put in the mouths of Gulliver’s non-human hosts; for instance, the Prince of Brobdingnag: “I cannot but conclude the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth” (II, 6). Sometimes, Gulliver speaks for himself: “having strictly examined all the Persons of greatest Name in the Courts of Princes for an hundred Years past, I found how the World had been misled by prostitute Writers, to ascribe the greatest Exploits in War to Cowards, the Wisest Counsel to Fools, Sincerity to Flatterers, Roman Virtue to Betrayers of their Country, Piety to Atheists, Chastity to Sodomites, Truth to Informers”; adding just after that, with a magnificent irony: “I hope I may be pardoned if these Discoveries inclined me a little to abate of that profound Veneration which I am naturally apt to pay to Persons of high Rank, who ought to be treated with the utmost Respect due to their sublime Dignity, by us their Inferiors” (III, 8). However harsh and offensive these comments might sound, even today, I must confess, there is always something extraordinarily amusing and toe-curling, invigorating even, about Swift’s prose. It is, all in all, an essential book on the human condition. Needless to say, Gulliver’s Travels it at the epicentre of a literary tradition of both adventures on sea (to which it is an obvious parody) and social satire, that goes as far back as Homer’s Odyssey, through Sindbad’s tales, the Travels of Marco Polo, Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, Erasmus’ In Praise of Folly, Thomas More’s Utopia, Dafoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Montesquieu's Persian Letters, up to a significant part of modern literature: Voltaire’s Candide and Micromégas, James Cook’s Voyages of Discovery, Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Wells’ Island of Dr Moreau, Orwell’s Animal Farm, and all their more recent avatars — say, The Hitchicker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to name just one book, or even Godzilla and King Kong, on the big screen.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Appel

    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. 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 course in college; I read about him again in my late 20s; and then this week, I discovered a heavily annotated paperback copy from 1960 in the basement of my apartment building, and was immediately distracted from my daily life. Of note, this copy of the book (per the title page inscription) once belonged to: "Jeff Hodge, Box 387, 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...." Swift may have lived in a world dependent upon sailing ships and horsepower, but his mindset is decidedly modern. 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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Loretta

    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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    James

    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. Whaaaaat? You're probably thinking I'm a nut job for talking about this. But a few things to remember... 1. 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. Oh... and it's all satire. So let's relax a bit. :P 2. A M 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. Whaaaaat? You're probably thinking I'm a nut job for talking about this. But a few things to remember... 1. 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. Oh... and it's all satire. So let's relax a bit. :P 2. A Modest Proposal is not the point of this review. Swift's other famous work, Gulliver's Travels, is the point of this review. 3. Swift wrote these novels / essays about 300 years ago. Yes, you read that correctly. 300 years ago. 4. The government controlled everything. He was a rebel. But a good one. And his works are absolutely fantastic. On to Gulliver's Travels. 5. 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 300 years old. It's the language of the past. He's commenting on society's values, the things people say/do, who's hovering over whom, etc. He's actually "standing up for the [wo]man." It's such an absurdist story that you undoubtedly enjoy it. 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... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. 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. [polldaddy poll=9729544] [polldaddy poll=9719251]

  17. 4 out of 5

    di

    This book was written in 1726. 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 1947 with a dust cover that's falling apart and that burnt paper This book was written in 1726. 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 1947 with a dust cover that's falling apart and that burnt paper smell. Mmm. ;) I picked this one up knowing a bit about the story. 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 1700s 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. And it is PACKED full of political commentary. The giants and the Houyhnhms and all the creatures/peoples he meets are really just sounding boards for Swift's critiques of human pride and self deception etc. 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'. Subtle? 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. Phew. 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. It is also a forerunner in the genre of sci-fi/fantasy. So, I'd say 3.5 stars, maybe 4. 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.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    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. 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 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.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike Lindgren

    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. 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 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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    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." Regardless of whether 'tis beneficial to give Swift the full benefit of the fictional doubt as is popular in circles of academic aspiration, ugh. 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. 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." Regardless of whether 'tis beneficial to give Swift the full benefit of the fictional doubt as is popular in circles of academic aspiration, ugh. 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." I will admit that Gulliver develops some nice sentiments at the behest of his multiple hosts. 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 200. 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 250 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.

  21. 4 out of 5

    James

    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. 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 - 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. Having seen various film adaptations - I never knew that the story extended beyond Lilliput and Brobdingnag, so the book / story was somewhat of a revelation. My advice to anyone tempted not to bother is to persevere beyond the tedium of the first 20% ish of the book as what follows will definitely be worth the effort.

  22. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Biting political satire 9 September 2015 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 2015 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 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. Okay, it is not the first travel narrative around (the Odyssey pre-dates it by a long shot, and Robinson Crusoe was also written tad earlier – a book that Swift does draw upon in parts), however it does seem be one of those books that has influenced the science-fiction/fantasy genre since. 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. Sure, he does tell the queen about his homeland, however this is more quaint curiosity than anything else. Furthermore he is at the mercy of the elements, as is seen when he is attacked by a giant rat, and his food is covered with insect slime. Beauty is another thing that is challenged in this section. This is shown in the scene where he sees the two naked women. While those of us who are normal size may be enticed by such an encounter, to somebody of Gulliver's size all he can see are the blemishes. In fact they are so noticeable he is left horrified. The section also works to humble Gulliver, since after visiting the Lilliputians he has trouble adjusting back in England to the fact that he is the same size as everybody else, where as this idea of being the big man is suddenly taken away from him. In a way he goes from being the big fish in the little pond to the little fish in the big pond. Laputa Here we come to see Swift's dislike of the modern scientific community. Laputa is a flying city that dominates its regions by flying over and dropping rocks upon them. It seems that two centuries before the Wright Brothers took to the sky Gulliver was speculating on the power of air superiority. Granted, air superiority isn't all that it is made out to be (the Americans seem to be having a lot of trouble bombing ISIS out of existence, and despite having complete control of the air, Hitler was not able to capture Stalingrad), but here Swift is giving a demonstration of its possibilities. However, it is not the air superiority that he is exploring, but how he views the ridiculousness of scientific enquiry. This is brought out clearly with the guy who has been charged with extracting sunlight from cucumber and the amount of time it would take to actually get any benefit out of it. It sort of reminded me of my method of turning lead into gold through the use of a nuclear reactor. Swift really didn't like the scientific movement, one that was taking England by storm at the time. These days he would probably fall into the category of the Creation Scientist, the one who is mocked at by the scientific community for their dogmatic belief that humanity was created from clay (though I could argue that that is what evolution is suggesting anyway: it is only giving us a process of how it could have come about). However, scientific research was limited to the upper classes, while many of the middle of lower classes were still satisfied with the explanations given to them by the church. The thing with the Laputians is that they consider themselves to be wise but through their actions they show themselves to be foolish. In fact as he wanders through their university he cannot help but see some of the stupid experiments that are going on, such as the attempt to mix paints simply through the use of smell (the people doing the research were blind). Mind you, back in those days the scientific movement had come out of what had originally been considered magic – Isaac Newton had a fascination with Alchemy. My belief is that because there was a perception that the scientific movement would challenge the authenticity of the Bible (or one group's interpretation of the Bible) they felt that they needed to relegate it to the realm of the dark arts. The land of the Houyhnhnms While we had a bunch of idiots running around in Laputa, in this place we have a form of idyllic utopia. The Houyhnhnms are actually evolved horses who live in what is effectively an idyllic society. They are wise in their own ways in that they are peaceful and have no understanding of war. One section of this part, were Gulliver is telling them about war, reminded me of a number of other stories where a visitor from an alien planet comes to Earth and is appalled at the fact that we insist on running around and killing each other. However, the Houyhnhnms are not a perfect race since they subjugate the humans of the region, whom they refer to as yahoos. In fact this is where the term entered the English language (these these days when we hear about Yahoos we automatically think of that internet company have ended up becoming second best to Google). The Yahoos are an uncivilised and barbaric lot, and in a way it seems that the Houyhnhnms want to keep them that way because as long as they remain uneducated they don't pose all that much of a threat. Gulliver seems to find himself at home here because these creatures live out what was speculated as far back as Plato. We have a communal society that lives at peace, and it is that community that gives them strength. However they are an incredibly racist lot because despite Gulliver being enthralled by their way of life, to them he is nothing more than a sophisticated Yahoo.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    My class read this right after finishing Robinson Crusoe, which, I think, was a perfect decision on my professor's part. In addition to making bold statements about colonialism and slavery, satirizing the hell out of European government and rulers and scientists and just about everything else, Swift is using Gulliver's Travels to write the longest, best parody of Robinson Crusoe ever. He takes Defoe's long-winded, preachy, boring survival story with racist and imperialist overtones, and turned i My class read this right after finishing Robinson Crusoe, which, I think, was a perfect decision on my professor's part. In addition to making bold statements about colonialism and slavery, satirizing the hell out of European government and rulers and scientists and just about everything else, Swift is using Gulliver's Travels to write the longest, best parody of Robinson Crusoe ever. He takes Defoe's long-winded, preachy, boring survival story with racist and imperialist overtones, and turned it into a fun adventure story that never misses an opportunity to mock the exploration-story genre or break out some inappropriate jokes (don't worry, I'll get to those.) The book is divided into four parts, each describing Gulliver's adventures in a different undiscovered part of the world. Part I is Lilliput, which everyone knows about already; Part II is Brobdingnag, where everyone is much bigger than Gulliver (in contrast to Lilliput); Part III is Laputa and some other stuff (it's the worst of the bunch, and reads like it was dashed off at the last minute and shoved in to round out the page count); and Part IV was my favorite, mostly because Gulliver goes to an island inhabited by super-intelligent horses. (10-year-old Madeline: Squeeeee! Talking horses!) It's all funny and exciting (except for previously-mentioned Part III, which is a total slog), but it does have some boring parts. For instance, every time Gulliver is on a ship he has to tell us the exact details of the voyage and dump a bunch of nautical terms on us, and he likes describing things in step-by-step detail. But that's the great thing: by doing this, he's satirizing Daniel Defoe and his boring book about some jackass getting stranded on an island. There are tons of digs at Robinson Crusoe, and my favorite has to be when Gulliver is describing one of his meals on an island and then says, "This is enough to say upon the subject of my diet, wherewith other travellers fill their books, as if the readers were personally concerned whether we fared well or ill." Cue everyone who had to sit through pages of Crusoe's food descriptions breathing a huge sigh of relief. As I mentioned, Swift is also having fun sticking in some dirty jokes. Right off the bat, when Gulliver is describing his life pre-voyage, he mentions being apprenticed to a man named Bates. We think it's a pointless detail, but then Gulliver refers to him, just once, as Master Bates. My professor assured us that this was very intentional. The best one was on Lilliput, when the king asked Gulliver to stand with his legs apart so the Lillputian army could ride underneath him like a bridge: "His Majesty gave orders, upon pain of death, that every soldier in his march should observe the strictest decency with regard to my person; which, however, could not prevent some of the younger officers from turning up their eyes as they passed under me. And, to confess the truth, my breeches were at that time in so ill a condition, that they afforded some opportunities for laughter and admiration." There you have it, folks. This may be the only book on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die that features the narrator pausing to inform us how absolutely colossal his penis is. Read for: Colonial Imagination

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    Swift's Satirical Fantasies This was another re-read of a novel that I had read as a child and that had left me with very vivid memories. For the most part, I enjoyed it just as much as I did then. Unlike "Tristram Shandy", it wasn't really a precocious work of Post-Modernism. It was more a collection of satirical fantasies, albeit reliant on a realistic narrative style. Still, it packs a punch I don't recall from my first reading. Tales of a Traveller Returned Wanting The novel purports to be a tra Swift's Satirical Fantasies This was another re-read of a novel that I had read as a child and that had left me with very vivid memories. For the most part, I enjoyed it just as much as I did then. Unlike "Tristram Shandy", it wasn't really a precocious work of Post-Modernism. It was more a collection of satirical fantasies, albeit reliant on a realistic narrative style. Still, it packs a punch I don't recall from my first reading. Tales of a Traveller Returned Wanting The novel purports to be a travelogue that documents Gulliver's travels into several remote but imaginary nations of the world, including Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, Glubbdubdrib, and the land inhabited by the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos. It would be enough to constitute a novel that these worlds be imaginary. However, what is most subtle and rewarding about a re-read as an adult is the opportunity to observe Doctor Lemuel Gulliver change over the course of the four discrete voyages. There is a clear character development, some would say for the worse, although that could be debatable. Most of us who have travelled realise that we learn about the world more effectively by travelling. However, not only do we learn much from or about our destinations, we learn something about ourselves by effectively being placed in the position of a fish out of water. Swift's novel highlights the obvious fact that we can also return to our own country with a changed frame of mind, that sometimes might find our country or our circumstances wanting. For this very reason, I've always sworn never to make a major personal or career decision within two months of returning from a holiday. Contrast and Comparison Swift's modus operandi is to describe the world Gulliver experiences in terms of relativities: "Undoubtedly, philosophers are in the right, when they tell us that nothing is great or little otherwise than by comparison." He lures us into this perspective by starting with Lilliput and Brobdingnag. The inhabitants of the former are one-twelfth of Gulliver's size, while those of the latter are 12 times his height. Much of the narrative concerns the logical consequences of their relative physiques. In one world, Gulliver is the source of wonder; in the other, he finds wonder everywhere. The Lilliputians calculate that every meal Gulliver must eat and drink as much as 1,724 of them. He soon becomes a liability. A Brobdingagian puts him to work as a diminutive freak in a sideshow: "I really began to imagine myself dwindled many degrees below my actual size." He finds that his littleness has started to expose him to "ridiculous and troublesome accidents," like hungry pets and wild birds. More lewdly, some of the women of the court would strip him naked and lay him "at full length in their bosoms" or get him to sit on their nipples! The king, "a prince of excellent learning", asks Gulliver about the English parliamentary system, after which the king opines: "I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth." A Most Irreverent Reverend Up to this point, Swift gives an irreverent account of politicians that we can all relate to. The king's judgement is all the more tolerable, because it doesn't purport to come from the author or his narrator. In the third part, the Laputians, who live on a floating or flying island, are subjected to similar criticism, though we identify with Gulliver. On Glubbdubdrib, he encounters sorcerers and magicians, who conjure up philosophers and rulers from the past for him to question. He is disappointed to learn of the "true springs and motives of great enterprises and revolutions", and emerges with a lower opinion of historical wisdom and integrity. Pretending to Reason In the final part, we meet the noble horse-like Houyhnhnms and the "filthy...odious" humanoid Yahoos. The former are unfamiliar with lying and false representation. They detest falsehood and disguise. It's interesting that, given the co-existence of two species in this land, Swift primarily contrasts the culture and politics of the Houyhnhnms with the English rather than the Yahoos. In fact, the Yahoos come off pretty lightly compared with the English, the reason being that the English "pretend to reason". Swift criticises the English for the enormity, brutality and barbarity of their crimes and vices. Swift is particularly critical of lawyers (who manipulate words and truth in the corrupt pursuit of personal wealth), politicians (who progress by way of insolence, lying and bribery) and colonialism, the latter motivated by "the luxury and intemperance of the males and the vanity of the females". Gulliver's master infers he must be noble to be so virtuous, yet Gulliver explains that the quality of his education was responsible. This resonates with the Houhynhnms who believe that reason alone should be sufficient to govern a rational person. It is the foundation of decency and civility. The Return of a Misanthrope In contrast, Gulliver regards the Yahoos as unteachable; they are cunning, malicious, treacherous and resentful. Gulliver realises that humans are most like the Yahoos. He even learns that he is sexually attractive to the Yahoo women. Before his return, Gulliver starts to feel ashamed of his family, his friends, his countrymen and the human race as a whole. When he arrives home and is greeted by the joy of his wife and children, he feels the utmost shame, confusion and horror. It's clear Gulliver/Swift felt that eighteenth century English society left a lot to be desired, that it needed to lift its game and that it was hypocritical in promoting and enforcing its values in its colonies, which he considered were "no means proper objects of our zeal, our valour, or our interest." Gulliver/Swift asserts that he writes "for the noblest end, to inform and instruct mankind". For all of the wit and style and wisdom of the novel, it's confronting to experience how close it gets to straight out misanthropy, possibly because of Gulliver's sense of repulsion by his own family. At the same time that you experience the shock of recognition, you have to ask whether the tone of the satire hasn't become too harsh and unforgiving. You have to wonder about Swift's judgement and his capacity for mercy, but then perhaps his novel might not have been as effective or enduring if it had been sanitised. Though, to be honest, I still haven't quite recovered. SOUNDTRACK: Blancmange - "Living on the Ceiling" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L03PJ... Telemann - "Loure der gesitteten Houyhnhnms & Furie der unartigen Yahoos" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-GoW... Jessica Dragonette - "Faithful Forever" [1939 Soundtrack] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2Tgz... OST - "It's a Hap-Hap-Happy Day" [1939 Soundtrack] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZCPX... OST - "All's Well" [1939 Soundtrack] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lr11n... Swift Smarts: "Gulliver's Travels" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEbtS...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    Gulliver’s Travels was a best seller when it was published in 1726, benefiting from the wave of excitement caused by Robinson Crusoe. It is a satire on contemporary travel narratives but Swift used this framework to vent his spleen at practically every aspect of the world in which he lived. It worked just as well as a children’s book, although some of it must have bored them silly. This edition is only half of the work, covering Gulliver's adventures in Lilliput (the land of the little people) an Gulliver’s Travels was a best seller when it was published in 1726, benefiting from the wave of excitement caused by Robinson Crusoe. It is a satire on contemporary travel narratives but Swift used this framework to vent his spleen at practically every aspect of the world in which he lived. It worked just as well as a children’s book, although some of it must have bored them silly. This edition is only half of the work, covering Gulliver's adventures in Lilliput (the land of the little people) and Brobdingnag (the land of the giants). It’s a children’s edition with a glossary at the end of each chapter explaining ‘difficult’ words. I found it very helpful because the meanings of so many words have changed so much over the centuries that the gist of some sentences would have been lost on me without it. Examples: ‘an unlucky schoolboy’ = a mischievous schoolboy; ‘I made a shift’ = ‘I managed’. Jonathan Swift’s life (1667-1745) is probably best summed up in his epitaph which reads ubi saeva indignatio ulterius cor lacerare nequit - ‘where fierce indignation can no further tear apart his heart’. Giving it a star rating seems a pointless exercise. What else could I give it but 5 stars when it’s considered one of the most important books ever written in the English language. My enjoyment of it is probably around 3 stars. With thanks to my grandfather (Papa), Alexander Allan, for a free review copy! He was awarded this edition in 1908 for attendance. Thanks, Papa, for giving my Mum a love of reading which she in turn passed on to me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jon(athan) Nakapalau

    A book that has become so "cartoonified" that you might find the real book hard to come to terms with. Happy to get it off my to read list! Question: is this book the first to use the term "Yahoo(s)?"

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    I don't remember the last time I actually abandoned a book, and I usually attempt to power through even books I don't like, so I can get the most complete picture of it. I also have this idea that if a book makes me abandon it, then it has beaten me. At this point however, I need to be really honest with myself. This just isn't going to happen. I simply can't read this without constantly thinking about all the other things I could be reading instead. I suppose this book has beaten me, but I pref I don't remember the last time I actually abandoned a book, and I usually attempt to power through even books I don't like, so I can get the most complete picture of it. I also have this idea that if a book makes me abandon it, then it has beaten me. At this point however, I need to be really honest with myself. This just isn't going to happen. I simply can't read this without constantly thinking about all the other things I could be reading instead. I suppose this book has beaten me, but I prefer it over me beating my head against the wall. Now, I know there are those who will shake their head at my reaction to this book. Some will say the book was over my head, or that I lack the appreciation for the finer things in life; or that I hate classics, or satire, or ... whatever. They will say I didn't "get" the book. Though this is perhaps true, it doesn't change my reaction. I mean, I get the satire; I really do (it's not like it's subtle, or anything). I simply don't care about it. The things in the book meant for shock value (like giants peeing on people, or men shoved into giant breasts), don't shock me. Sure, you might say 'well, they were shocking for their time! It's about context, you fuzz brain!' Again, you might be right, but I simply can't be made to care. Which brings me to my ultimate problem: the book hasn't made me feel anything. I don't feel any aspect of the story, I don't feel the shock of outlandish action, I don't feel anything about any of it (except for the feeling of wanting it to be over with as soon as possible). I while I'm reading, it is hard not to hear white-noise take over my brain. White-noise is about as interesting, and the dictionary blows this out of the water for reading joy. I'm going to go read something else now, and forget all about this book...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    Remember reading parts of this as a teenager and I could remember reading about Gulliver's arrival at Liliput but not the rest of his intrepid travels. For some strange reason I've always thought of this as a "children's book" only. Anyway glad that I decided to try it again. No point in providing a synopsis as I doubt there would be too many readers on the planet who didn't have an inkling already of Gulliver's Travels,

  29. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    he has 4 travels, right, and it's the first one in all the movies, but the last one is what germans would call 'the hammer.' he goes to this place that's like planet of the apes, except it's horses not apes. and then instead of being all charlton heston about it, he internalizes their shit and wishes he was a horse. he ends back in england and he can't stand the sight of other humans, they're disgusting, not like those noble horses. GENIUS. GENIUS GENIUS. read this book already, jeez!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    I first read a simplified version of this classic fictional travelogue as a child. The kid's version only included the tale about the tiny residents of Lilliput and its rival kingdom, Blefuscu. I never knew until college there was a lot more to the book than just tiny people declaring war over how to eat eggs properly. I had so much fun reading this book in literature class in college. We picked apart the allegory and laughed at the slightly off-color parts of the book. I enjoyed revisiting the I first read a simplified version of this classic fictional travelogue as a child. The kid's version only included the tale about the tiny residents of Lilliput and its rival kingdom, Blefuscu. I never knew until college there was a lot more to the book than just tiny people declaring war over how to eat eggs properly. I had so much fun reading this book in literature class in college. We picked apart the allegory and laughed at the slightly off-color parts of the book. I enjoyed revisiting the travels of Lemuel Gulliver. I'm glad the book was included in the list of 100 books for The Great American Read. Lemuel Gulliver is shipwrecked and begins keeping a log of all of his adventures. First he meets tiny people who are amazed at the huge Man Mountain. He escapes Lilliput and before finding his way back to England he travels to a land filled with giants, a country filled with great thinkers who are unable to put their knowledge to any practical use, and a country where savage, deformed humans called Yahoos are the slaves of a race of talking horses. When Gulliver finally returns home he has a hard time returning to his normal life and spends much time in the stables trying to talk to his horses. I enjoyed re-visiting this story. While on the outside it is an interesting adventure tale about Gulliver's strange travels, underneath the adventure there is much allegory about human nature, politics, social norms, prejudice and racism, injustice and corruption. My favorite part is when the Lilliputian ruler's home is burning down and there isn't enough water to put out the fire. So, Gulliver (being so much larger than the very tiny Lilliputians) decides to wing it -- putting out the fire completely by peeing on it. He is then prosecuted for urinating in the ruler's home. Because he did so in order to save the residence, he is shown mercy (cough, cough). Instead of being executed with poisoned arrows shot into his face, they are willing to just put out both his eyes. Another favorite scene is when he is faced with a giant farmer's wife who breast feeds her baby in his presence. Gulliver is quite taken aback at seeing a breast that is 16 feet in circumference, making commentary that flaws in the (ahem) attributes of English women are much easier to hide because they aren't giant and totally in his face. I love how Jonathan Swift slams much of the nonsense of the human condition and our flaws while hiding his real intent within the fantastical travelogue of Lemuel Gulliver. The book is both hilarious and thought provoking. I'm so glad I re-read this book. I enjoyed it just as much as I did as a child when I only got part of the tale....and again in college when I studied it in full. Gulliver's Travels is the 11th book that I have read/re-read as part of The Great American Read. The list of 100 books for GAR are listed here: The Great American Read . I am going to try to read as many of the books on the list as I can. 11 down....89 to go! :)

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