Gulliver's Travels and Other Writings Paperback – 1961
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I hope you will be ready to own publicly, whenever you shall be called to it, that by your great and frequent urgency you prevailed on me to publish a very loose and uncorrect account of my travels; with direction to hire some young gentlemen of either university to put them in order, and correct the style, as my cousin Dampier did by my advice, in his book called A Voyage round the World. Read the first page
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Jonathan Swift was an Irish-born Tory who possessive of a famous aversion to humantiy in general. (Or so I am apt to classify him. There is something charming about misanthropes, one can really sympathize with them when one is cranky.) His Captain Lemuel Gulliver ends up stranded in various wondrous and edifying lands. I needn't tell you about Lilliput (six inch high people) and Brobdingnag (giants), but you might have forgotten Laputa, the floating island, and the land of the H----'s (don't bother me with the bloody spelling), those uber-intelligent horses. It's that last part, with the H----'s that is pretty shocking even today. You and me are both Yahoos of a kind, and Gulliver sails back to his people in raft with a sail made from Yahoo-skins. With Yahoo meat as provisions.
But there are lots of disturbing, warped things in this book. I remember passages in Brobdingnag with the most fondness. There Gulliver, reduced to the status of a plaything, is quite helpless, and delightfully so. He is dropped into a bowl of cream by a dwarf and embarrasingly discommoded by a pet monkey. The ladies at the court take a perverse delight in bouncing him up and down on their breasts. Gulliver, being tiny, is able to note the physical human imperfections of his captors magnified--cancerous lumps, blemishes of the skin, moles and wrinkles appear in all their sordidness. And what interesting things these are to read about, in retrospect.Read more ›
Part I, "A Voyage to Lilliput" is the best known part of the book. This section has often been used in isolation of the other three parts of the book. This is the story where Gulliver is shipwrecked and washed up on a distant shore, only to find himself a captive of the Lilliputians, who are 1/12th the size of Gulliver. Swift is very detailed in discussing the minutia of Gulliver's experience, from how much he has to eat, to how he relieves himself. Swift satirizes the court of King George I, and of course travel books where the authors stretch the truth. Gulliver starts as a captive, becomes a loyal subject, but then is forced by his own morals to refuse the requests of the King of Lilliput which allows his enemies to work against him. As a result, Gulliver is forced to flee and as fortune would have it he makes it back to home.Read more ›
I must say I was not very surprised by this work, as I knew from the start whre everything would go. The letter and the spirit of Gulliver's Travels are one of the most divulgated to students from primary till high school. That's why I particulartly liked the account of Laputa, which is one of the lesser known episodes (and I looked forward to it, since Italo Calvino had done a remarkable publicity for it once). Especially the Academy of Sciences of that noble country had an interesting Sadian feeling (Swift is one of those philosophic minds which delight in fustigating philosophers); plus, you could witness the explosion of a dog.
There's rather a disquieting feeling hanging around these pages. From neurotic midgets who receive rains of urine on their heads, giants with a deformed and stinking skin (not different from our own, if we could magnify it adequately, the author says), to people who after they've come home from a long voyage, prefer talking to two horses and have to hold a handkerchief in front of their nose when they're with their wives and children. Vanitas vanitatum, memento mori. No wonder Swift was an Irish clergymen. But this exposes also a difficulty in his social criticism; generally, we point towards him as a spur to reform. But, how can a work with such a deeply rooted convinction in the decline of humanity stimulate to politicalaction. rather, ity is an invitation to a stoic ideal of life, not unlike Voltaire's in "Candide".
Most recent customer reviews
Bogus description of this edition. The few notes are cursory, there is little providing any historical or political context. This is not the insightful edition I was led to expect.Published 1 month ago by David Vereschagin
Excellent stories. I had forgotten the stories and enjoyed this book tremendously. I read the book during my high school days, but it was just as exciting now as 30 years ago.Published 5 months ago by L. Mayo
This is one of the old classics of all time. If you have a bit of time, it is worth the read.Published 6 months ago by Sieg
It is only fair that those unfamiliar with this work are warned of its 18th century prose, which may distract, if not exceedingly annoy, some readers.Published on July 19 2004
There is no need for me to go into what a marvelous and timeless classic "Guliver's Travels" is. Read morePublished on June 18 2004 by J Bucknoff, PMP