Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gulliver'sTravels

Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships, by Jonathan Swift.

Yes, it is crazy that I have never read this book. Now that we've all agreed, let's move on.

Quickie recap: Gulliver is not a smart man. After suffering through 2 ship wrecks and spending long periods in captivity among strange people sometimes even on the threat of death, he refuses to learn his lesson and subjects himself twice more.

Quickie review: The first two voyages, to Lilliput the land of the little, and Brobdingnag, land of giants, were my favourites. They were engaging and exciting, and even a little titillating - Gulliver is accused of treason after extinguishing a fire by urination in Lilliput and is exposed to much cleavage in Brobdingnag. I can appreciate that Swift was almost parodying the "tall tale" story telling of seamen, but after the first two great adventures, I found myself rooting for his wife to take him by the ear and compel him to stay the hell home. But out he goes again, to that dangerous place between Japan and California where he encounters flying islands, immortals, historical figures, and finally, a race of civilized horses that show him what base creatures humans are - and so when he is finally "rescued" home against his will, he cannot reconcile living among the "yahoos" he has come to feel inferior. Swift uses these encounters to point out how ridiculous royalty and government are and I have a strong suspicion that if I knew more about British history, I would have gotten more out of this text. However, even without this meaning-behind-the-meaning interpretation, I found Gulliver's Travels to be a bit unexpected, mostly enjoyable, and I am glad to finally be able to cross it off my list.

Quickie recommendation: I suppose yes.

4 comments:

Lorna said...

It wasn't on my list, but now it is. Damn.

Jay said...

I have guilt...every time I cross a book off my list, it ends up on someone else's!

L.Cass said...

when i was about six..i saw a Cartoon for Gulliver's Travels and thought about how cool it would be to be a giant. I ate ants , pretending they were little people.

sage said...

I read this first time about two years ago--it'd been on my list for decades...