Gulliver's Travels Paperback – 1950
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Jonathan Swift's satirical novel was first published in 1726, yet it is still valid today. Gulliver's Travels describes the four fantastic voyages of Lemuel Gulliver, a kindly ship's surgeon. Swift portrays him as an observer, a reporter, and a victim of circumstance. His travels take him to Lilliput where he is a giant observing tiny people. In Brobdingnag, the tables are reversed and he is the tiny person in a land of giants where he is exhibited as a curiosity at markets and fairs. The flying island of Laputa is the scene of his next voyage. The people plan and plot as their country lies in ruins. It is a world of illusion and distorted values. The fourth and final voyage takes him to the home of the Houyhnhnms, gentle horses who rule the land. He also encounters Yahoos, filthy bestial creatures who resemble humans. The story is read by British actor Martin Shaw with impeccable diction and clarity and great inflection. If broken into short listening segments, the tapes are an excellent tool for presenting an abridged version of Gulliver's Travels.-Jean Deck, Lambuth University, Jackson, TN
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Irresistible for children learning to read" - Child Education Plus; "The Usborne Young Reading Program has a lovely selection of classic tales adapted for younger readers. Graded in seven levels, these have just enough stretch in them and yet are not too overwhelming." - The Irish Sunday Independent; "Crack reading and make confident and enthusiastic readers with this fantastic reading programme" - Julia Eccleshare --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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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