Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels

Book - 1991
Average Rating:
8
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On four voyages, an Englishman becomes shipwrecked in various lands.
Publisher: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, [1991]
ISBN: 9780679405450
0679405453
Characteristics: xlv, 318 p. : maps ; 21 cm

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s
scribby
Nov 08, 2017

This is, of course, often mistaken for a children’s book, and for obvious reasons. First there is a voyage to a land of little people, then to a land of giants, then an island floating in the sky and inhabited by comical mad scientists/sorcerers (Swift seems to have thought of them as roughly the same, though they are on different islands), and finally a land of wise horses and brutish humans. This would seem to be standard children’s’ fare, until the reader gets farther along: there are a lot of scatological passages and worse – not suitable for children. Like “Alice in Wonderland”, first impressions are deceiving. What Swift has done is to cast a satirical eye on the society of his day, and take it apart piece by debased piece. The narrator, Lemuel Gulliver, at first seems to be the voice of reason; but then he begins to extoll the virtues of his own culture, with its wars, unquestioned class (caste) systems, slavery, and colonialization – and at first fails to understand why his audiences of little people, giants, and scientists are taken aback. Realization comes in the fourth part – he is just one of those wretched “Yahoos” after all, hiding behind a thin veil of civilization. At the same time, the various cultures he encounters on his voyages are crazy exaggerations of human society: the gigantic Brobdingnagians treat him as a pet or a sideshow (as European colonialists acted condescendingly towards other cultures); the scientists of Laputa are so wrapped up in contemplation (of truly ridiculous ideas) that they need “flappers” to hit them with stone-filled balloons on occasion to make them pay attention. …All in all, this is a complex and multifaceted piece of literature, hiding behind what at first appears to be an innocent fairy tale. One negative comment: I would have liked to read a version with notes explaining some of the more “obscure” sections that are no longer obvious to modern readers.

AL_JEREMIAH Aug 11, 2016

The book chronicles the adventures of world traveller Gulliver, and is a parody of travel books of the time. It’s divided into four sections that correspond with the four locations he visits. The first two are rather familiar — he’s super-big, then he’s super-small — the last two are less well known, but (to me) are the most interesting: his time upon a floating island of scientists, philosophers, and magicians, and lastly, in a land of intelligent horse-like creatures. It’s the most misanthropic (human-hating) book I’ve ever read (especially the last section) but yet again this is Swift’s way of manipulating the reader to respond a certain way. Due to the book’s age some aspects of it are difficult for modern readers like us, which is why I recommend a reading guide or notes to read along with the text.

a
alysalle
Jun 20, 2014

It started out slow, but I thought Part 2 and Part 3 were much better than Part 1 and it is always interesting reading something that was written in a different time period to see what the perceptions of the world were at that time!

k
kyivuk04
Apr 17, 2013

3 stars because it is a classic and because it was a good story idea. With that said, the writing style is often hard to understand and the storyline is very dull.

soccergirl8 Aug 14, 2012

it really wasn't that good. the only parts that were fast paced and wanted you to read more were very short. however the idea of the book was very creative.

t
TomLibrarian
Jul 06, 2012

We all know what is thought of as the children's story of Gulliver's travels to Lilliput where he is a giant compared to the Lilliputians and to Brobdingnag where he is the tiny one. Children's editions of the book stop there, omitting the deep satire of the rest of Jonathan Swift's classic book. He hooks the reader with the first two phenomenally imaginative stories and then continues on to the biting commentary on human nature, morals, government, mortality/immortality and science that is his real purpose. After Brobdingnag, Gulliver encounters further amazing peoples, situations and inventions in four more imaginary countries, followed by Japan, as Swift's satire sharpens its edge. After returning to England, where Gulliver hoped to stay for the rest of his life, he takes one more trip, and ends up in the country of the Houyhnhnms, where the horses are the sentient beings. There you will meet the Yahoos. You may never think of that word or human nature in same light again!

v
vwruleschick
Mar 31, 2011

it was an OK read, although it was a little hard to relate as this was written in the 1770s. Got to give the author credit for his idea on this story in 4 parts about his travels and discussing who and what he encounters and how it compares to his homeland. Each part he experiences something out of the ordinary. Curious to see how the movie with Jack Black will relate, if anything, to the book.

d
Dani
Jun 28, 2008

Boring, very difficult to get through.

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