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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gulliver's travels
Who would have expected that I would come away from this book liking it so very much? Trying to read it on my own, I failed, but reading it in class helped me to see it in context, and appreciate it as a funny, thoughtful, and sometimes cruel work, a satire that can be real fun and thought-provoking once you get into the right mood for reading it.
Jonathan Swift was...
Published on Feb. 21 2004 by Puabi

3.0 out of 5 stars great book
Gulliver's Travels is a great book with many adventures. Gulliver, the main character, takes many trips to different islands, where he learns the viewpoints of other people, on him and his country. He goes to a country of people that are only six inches tall. He begins to think that they can do no wrong. He soon learns that they are very corrupt individuals. He tells...
Published on Dec 8 2000 by t-bone

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gulliver's travels, Feb. 21 2004
Puabi (Californialand) - See all my reviews
Who would have expected that I would come away from this book liking it so very much? Trying to read it on my own, I failed, but reading it in class helped me to see it in context, and appreciate it as a funny, thoughtful, and sometimes cruel work, a satire that can be real fun and thought-provoking once you get into the right mood for reading it.
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. I think that we as modern human beings--I mean as Westerners, swamped in our materialism and complacency--need to sample the muck in our "entertainment" sometimes, just to get in touch with reality. Tear yourself away from MTV, from the supermodels and the actors, from semi-kiddie porn anime, and admit that the physicality of our human bodies can be pretty disgusting.
And also the psychology of Us, when we don't study ourselves and our values--
Gulliver himself is a little man, a contemptible nincompoop most of the time. I didn't notice it while I was reading the book, but afterwards, I thought about it, and decided so. When he recommends gunpowder to the King of Brobdingnag, he even comes across as significantly--stupid. (Is there logic in presenting a country of giants with the ability to make gunpowder, when you and the rest of your kind are 1/100th of their size? Derr. Not really. Even if you want to suck up to said king.)
But it's Swift on whom I can't quite place my finger... The more I think about him alongside his book, the more ambiguous he seems. Does he really mean to present the values of the H----'s as Good with a capital G in all particulars? (I was struck with their arrogant bitchiness, myself. Perhaps Swift would dislike me.) How about the Lilliuputian way of raising children, is that meant to be construed as desirable? (I do like it better than the cruel Puritanical strain of childraising, all that honor your mother & father ad nauseum beyond the bounds of compassion kind of crap--but the Lilliputian way doesn't seem to allow for that thing called love, either...)
I dunno. You tell me.
Ahh, but don't tell me Gulliver's Travels is outdated, or boring, 'cause I won't believe you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, Feb. 14 2013
Doesn't get better than this. A hilarious, disturbing, and thought provoking novel. Even people who dislike 18th century literature will find this one engaging.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The original satire, Jan. 12 2004
This book is probably the best known full-length satire of society. In it, Swift mocks what he feels to be the all the iniquities of the 18th century. And of course, it's far from being a children's book.
There are four voyages and only the first two are known in the popular imagination. In each voyage, Gulliver goes to a country/countries that are radically different from those known and stays with the court/government learning about the country and sometimes helping out.
Part 1 is a voyage to Lilliput. Here, the people are very very small. This is the most well-known part, containing famous satires such as that of the Big-Endians and Little-Endians. The small characters generally satirise the characteristic of pettiness.
Part 2 is a voyage to Brobdingnag. Here, the people are very large. As such, they satirise the opposite quality - that of being overbearing. Here, Gulliver is paraded as a pet.
Part 3 is a voyage to Laputa (and other islands including Japan). Here, Swift mocks scholarship and science. Each of the several islands has a peculiar trait to do with science. Here, you'll find such classics as the novel-writing machine and the country where the linguists decided that words are too indirect to communicate being signs of signs so everyone carries a large sack of objects to point to in direct communication - which sounds like something from a modern academic, except this is interesting.
Part 4 is a voyage to the country of the Huyhnhnms. Here, Swift departs from tongue-and-cheek and becomes biting. The country is a utopia populated by benevolent horses and the humanoids are wild and uncivilised so they're "looked after". As a result of the horses' brilliance, Gulliver becomes disgusted with the human race after seeing the difference. Obviously like all parts of the satire this is not to be taken literally - that Swift despised people.
That's the basic content but nothing can describe the joy, humour, wit and imagination used in the book. It has everything and is an absolute must for anyone who's ever saw something funny/wrong with society (ie. all).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read it to your children to turn them into pessimists., Dec 11 2003
_Gulliver's Travels_ has been comfortably wrapped in a bookcover of sorts which presents it as a cozy fairy tale for young readers. Yet I know of no book so utterly anti-human. Gulliver, the narrator, is an elegant writer who sets himself up as an ideal vehicle for irony-- that is, he is totally sincere. He states the facts, often in terms of measurements, and records his travels quite faithfully. He's a bit dull, perhaps, but at least he's a careful observer. And in so recording his observations he undermines, completely turns on its head, all that we value in humanity. How? Gulliver-- Swift, really-- reduces everything to a matter of perspective or proportion. It's a shockingly decedent approach. For suddenly the fair perfumed skin of a young lady, enlarged hundreds of times, is a dark-haired surface with moon-craters and a horrid stench. Is this who we really are? Only our eyes and nose cannot detect the truth? The pleasant image of Gulliver tied in tiny ropes by a tiny people is destroyed by a certain Swiftian madness, a sense that humans are-- in short-- vile. Read closely then try walking down the street and looking these two-legged creatures in the eye.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Disquieting read., Nov. 13 2003
This is of course one of the most famous works of literature in the world, especially thanks to the Japanese, who realised a consistent amount of cartoons for the home-video market inspired by it.
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".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, a lot of satire on the way people act., Sept. 24 2003
M. C. Martinez "koolnumber9" (Newark, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
Gulliver's Travels was a book that was the required reading in my high school senior english class. At first, you think of Gulliver's Travels as a kid's book due to the cartoons that were put out. But as you read it, you discover it is full of satire for adults.
Jonathan swift writes about how people act or fail to act. Such as in the case where Gulliver finds himself in the land of Giants. Many people there are huge, larger than life- sports stars, models, movie stars, politicians of today- but they fail to see their own faults, acme, blemeishes as Gulliver describes them. Then you have the land of Lilliputians, who represent small people in society trying to be something there not, and always trying to push others around. Their election for mayor is funny in that the official who jumps the highest wins! Sorta like our elections today, the canidate who puts the biggest show wins.
Jonathan then writes about the way he feels society should be in the land of the horses, noble, honorable, loving.HHMMM And he takes a shot at humans calling them "Yahoo's", stating they are dirty, filthy, self-centered and how they throw their dung around like monkeys.
Some say Jonthan Swift was an eccentric and crazy, others say he was a genius. Read the book and you be the judge.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Satirical Travel Journal, June 16 2003
Z. Blume (St. Louis, MO United States) - See all my reviews
In this story, Lemuel Guilliver, a career ship surgeon, writes a travel journal about his fantastic voyages on the high seas. His commercial ventures never worked out as planned, either a storm or mutiny ending them before returning to England, but each time he had the good fortune of landing on an island unexplored by Europeans. On these islands he runs into a variety of natives--giants, 6" tall people, people who reside on a flying island, and horses that take human-like Yahoos as pets. Each is an interesting and entertaining story in its own right and without reading any deeper into the story, but that is not why this book is a classic.
The author, Jonathan Swift, was a master of satire. As an Irishman he despised British rule and resisted it through his writing. Because criticism of the crown and Parliament was a punishable offense, Swift projected the personalities and social events of the day into fictional characters in imaginary circumstances with wonderful effect. While telling a terrific fictional story, he was able to rail against the system and really make a name for himself as a satirist.

The one problem with reading a satire that is dated, is that many of the characters and social events about which the author wrote are obscured by the passage of time. I consider myself to be fairly well acquainted with British history and its major players, but without the assistance for excellent footnotes, I would have missed a tremendous amount in this story. It still would have been great without the footnotes, but would not have provided the same historical lesson, which is why I would recommend a version with a good introduction and footnotes regardless of why you are reading the story and how well you feel you know the history of Swift's era.
I liked this book quite a bit, though I agree with many other reviewers who think it might by a little much for younger readers. In cartoons, picture books, or movies, it can be dumbed down to a cutesy fairy tale, which is fine and will hopefully encourage children to read the real story later in life, but an unabridged version will be boring and go right over their heads. I think it is an excellent book for adults who like fantasy fiction or readers who usually like historical or political non-fiction, as it is an excellent review of Swift's times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars anti-anti-everything:, May 9 2003
asphlex "asphlex" (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gulliver's Travels (Paperback)
Considering the topic of this book, I feel it necessary to discuss some of the stated perceptions regarding it:
--Apparently some people believe this a children's book, sort of like the cutesy, toned down puppet shows that have passed for adaptations. A question of no doubt: This book was intended as an attack.
I see in Swift something like an anarchistic mind--a man so revolted by every tribal persuation that passes for religion or for politics (often equally consumed, the two supposedly seperate ideas fused and bunched together, every contradiction in tact--!) and yet so disillusioned with every so-called 'independent movement', (be they political, social, or that stale haven of the two of them: Someone's brand new church--)that really all the poor man could see left was No hope--
Whether this is a lesson for children, whether it's appropriate to allow them to see all of the horrors and the insanity of our secualarized community filled with warring faiths and the greed and the snivelling of a competitive open party system, this is for the parent(s) to judge. If nothing else Gulliver's travels is a shattering portrait of a wide-ranging variety of communities all against both each other and themselves, all living together in a community defined by dicisiveness.
Other comments I saw were purely academic: the charts and the lists, the textbook schemata of some condescending mind seeming to boast that they 'get it', when all that they really come across as having gotten is someone else's rather passionless point of view. The quoting of others, the application of philosophies that have today become so common place towards human understanding that these cyrpto-psycholo-intellectualticians undermine Mr. Swift (not to meant pre-date themselves in guess of who represents whom) in their praise, giving the man no credit for intuitive insight. Certain people rank this book as the 'best ever', or--worse yet!--as the compartmentilized 'best SATIRE ever'. Now surely this book is a work of the satiric art. To put it a better way: the whole present concept of satiric intent would not exist without the pulsing heart of Jonathan Swift's works. But to apply a ranking to something that can only be taken subjectively is meaningless.
Swift was a man truly without fear. In an age when people could be excommunicated and possibly executed for making fun of those in power, this angry monk scribbled out bitter complaints about the self-serving absurdity of nearly everyone in power. Then, to judge in all fairness, he turns the blame on the victims, telling them that they don't have to take it, that after a while there is no one left to blame for their suffering but themselves. This satire is all-inclusive and can therefore not be conceived with an agenda. It is poking fun. It is the narrative of progressive exaggeration. It is a masterpiece--
Now of course we all need to justify our opinions by naming and accepting who or what we represent, but Swift acknowledges that this is just opinion, the one sacred thing to all of mankind. We create our own reality by applying our beliefs to our surroundings And if the whole world is out to get you, ultimately, you must be doing something terribly wrong to be so hated.
I urge you--all of you, even those who much prefer an outlook able to provide for happy endings--read Gulliver's Travels. Take your time. And see who you are, taken to the logical extremes relating to your religious, political and community affiliations. And then laugh at the folly of the individual trapped in this world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A delightfully humorous satire, Jan. 25 2003
Lemuel Gulliver is a surgeon/shipˆs captain who embarks on several intriguing adventures. His first endeavor takes him to Lilliput, where all inhabitants are six inches tall, but resemble normal humans in every other respect. His next voyage lands him on Brobdingnag, where a grown man is sixty feet tall, and even the shortest dwarf stands thirty feet tall. On his third trip, he travels to several locations, including a floating island. During Gulliverˆs final voyage, he is abandoned by his mutinous crew on the island of the Houyhnhnms, which are extremely intelligent horses. No evil or concept of lying exists among these creatures. The island is also inhabited by Yahoos, savage, irrational human-like creatures who are kept as pets by the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver wishes to spend the rest of his life on this peaceful island, but he is banished and forced to return to England.
I really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to people 14 or older. Since the novel was written in the 1700¡»s, the words, grammar and usage are a little confusing. The reader also must have prior knowledge of 18th-century politics to get a full image of what Swift is trying to convey. At some points, the author goes into detail about nautical terms and happenings, and that tends to drag. Overall, the book is well-written, slightly humorous, if not a little confusing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Swift's famous satire, Jan. 20 2003
Jonathan Swift´¿s 18th century satire, Gulliver´¿s Travels, is an extraordinary tale of the adventures of an English ship surgeon. The ship surgeon, Gulliver, by a series of unfortunate events on each of his four voyages at sea, receives the chance to explore the cultures of the countries of Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdrib, Luggnagg and the land of the Houyhnhnms. Each land is considerably different from the others, and creates quite an entertaining read.
While the story itself is particularly unusual, the satirical element which Swift applied to it adds another level of comprehension. If understood, one could have a nice chuckle at the way Swift mockingly portrays ideas and people through the various cultures which Gulliver encounters. Some similes, however, are intended to get a more serious meaning across. For example, in his first journey of the book, Gulliver finds himself in the country of Lilliput where the people are only six inches tall, save the king who is seven. In this land there are two groups which were distinguished by which side a person breaks their eggs on. One king published an edict commanding all his subjects to break their eggs on the small side, but many would´¿ve picked death over breaking their eggs on the ´¿wrong´¿ side, so many did. By this, Swift meant to throw contempt on the exaggerated importance that people place on their differences, as on which side one breaks an egg is a very trivial thing. The two groups mentioned represent the Catholic and Protestant religions, between which were many wars and massacres during the 1500´¿s when the Protestants first appeared.
Gulliver´¿s Travels takes the reader to many lands, all different and unique ´¿ each adding another perspective on traditional beliefs and ways of thinking. Gulliver changes as much as the scenery around him, and after each voyage he has changed dramatically. At the end he has transformed so much that I feel really sorry for his family ´¿ although it´¿s only love that could allow them to put up with his strange behaviors.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an appetite for literature, as Gulliver´¿s Travels is an excellent satire of the ways of the thinking in the early 1700´¿s. Also, the author does a good job in describing the lands which Gulliver visits in great detail. Although Swift may not have written this book with intense action scenes and steamy romance, it is definitely a work worthy of the people of today.
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Gulliver's Travels
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (Paperback - Sept. 18 1996)
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