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 an...
Published on Feb 21 2004 by Puabi
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overrated
I missed reading Gulliver's Travels as a child, only to read it as an adult and discover that I hadn't deprived myself of much at all. As a children's tale, Gulliver's Travels is moderately interesting, with a few brief moments of humor. It is neither riveting nor drab, but simply - average.
Despite the preface of the Baronet Books edition, which claims that Gulliver's...
Published on April 14 2002 by Todd McFarland
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gulliver's travels,
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic,
This review is from: Gulliver's Travels (Kindle Edition)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.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overrated,
This review is from: Gulliver's Travels (Hardcover)I missed reading Gulliver's Travels as a child, only to read it as an adult and discover that I hadn't deprived myself of much at all. As a children's tale, Gulliver's Travels is moderately interesting, with a few brief moments of humor. It is neither riveting nor drab, but simply - average.
Despite the preface of the Baronet Books edition, which claims that Gulliver's Travels is a "masterpiece of satire", I found the irony to be blatant and trite, and, as a result, predictable and boring.
While certainly not a great read, it was worth the half hour I invested in it (barely).
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless In More Than One Way,
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.
In Part II, "A Voyage to Brobdingnag", Gulliver once again goes to sea, and is this time abandoned when he goes to look for fresh water. This time Gulliver finds himself in a somewhat reversed position, still captive, but this time by people who are 12 times his height. The notoriety of Gulliver's existence results in his again being a favorite of the court. Gulliver tries to impress the King with stories of Europe, but his stories of the use of guns and cannons has the opposite affect. This time Gulliver is rescued by luck when a giant bird drops him in the sea where he is found and returned again to England.
Part III, "A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan again has Gulliver at sea, and his fortunes are worse yet, as his ship is taken by Pirates and he is marooned on an island. Here he is rescued by a flying island (Laputa) which is a kingdom where math and the arts are of paramount importance but they have no interest at all in Gulliver's information regarding other lands. Gulliver then travels to Balnurabi where he visits their Academy which is a satire of the Royal Society at the time. Gulliver decides to go to Japan to make his way on a Dutch ship back to England, but since he has time he first goes to Glubbdubdrib. Here he discusses history with the ghosts, and learns of the immortal Struldbruggs who spend most of their existence old and infirmed. Gulliver then makes his way back to Balnurabi and on to Japan, where he manages to avoid a ceremony where he would have to trample on the crucifix before returning to England. This is the last of the sections which Swift wrote, and is the most unusual.
Part IV, "A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms" starts with Gulliver breaking his promise to remain at home and returning to the Sea. Once again misfortune sets in and his crew mutinies and eventually leaves him on an unknown shore. Here Gulliver meets the dominant species, the Houyhnhns who are like horses. The humans of this land are called Yahoos, and their behavior and actions convince Gulliver that the Houyhnhms are preferable to his own species. In the end Gulliver much prefers life among the Houyhnhms to that among humans (Yahoos), even those in England. The Houyhnhms decide that Gulliver is a danger to their society, and so they exile him. Gulliver is rescued, no thanks to his own efforts, and finds himself once again among humans. Despite being treated wonderfully by the Portuguese captain, Gulliver cannot stand being among humans, and even when he makes it back to his home in England, he prefers to spend his time in the stables with the horses. This section contains my favorite part of the book, where Gulliver tries to defend European "Civilization" to the Houyhnhms by discussing European wars.
If one is looking to read "Gulliver's Travels" as a Children's book, then there are better editions than this one to choose. If you are looking to read the complete book as an adventure story or a general satire, then there are several editions which contain the complete novel, though this one will work for that as well. If you are looking to read it to understand the more specific and detailed satire that it offers, then the Penguin Classics publication is a very good choice of editions. In addition to the introduction and the notes mentioned before, there are also some textual notes discussing the differences in the 1726 and 1735 editions. For the most part, this book sticks with the 1726 edition, but there are several places where Robert Demaria, Jr. opts to use the 1735 text. This is also discussed in the notes and in "A Note on the Text" which precedes the novel.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Edition,
This review is from: Gulliver's Travels (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (Mass Market Paperback)There is no need for me to go into what a marvelous and timeless classic "Guliver's Travels" is. The satire, while nearly 300 hundred years old, is as fresh today as it was in the 1720s.
What I will say about this particular edition is that it is very beautifully done. (If you can get the hardcover edition instead of the softcover, all the better.) The typeset, color engravings and supplemental material in the appendices add up to an excellent edition of this classic. I highly recommend it either as a gift or as a copy for your own library.
2.0 out of 5 stars Satire still applies--should have ended after 2 adventures,
If you have to read this book for a class, I suggest that you get at least a month's head start. It is not easy getting use to reading 'an horse' 'an house' 'an human' 'an hole'.
5.0 out of 5 stars The original satire,
This review is from: Penguin Classics Gullivers Travels (Mass Market Paperback)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).
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it to your children to turn them into pessimists.,
5.0 out of 5 stars Disquieting read.,
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".
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, a lot of satire on the way people act.,
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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Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (Paperback - Sep 18 1996)