Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gulliver’s Travels

Okay, so I was wrong—Gulliver’s Travels turned out NOT ONLY about Liliput! And it is certainly not a children’s book, although the Liliput part is often adapted into children’s tales. It is written as a travel journal of a navy surgeon called Lemuel Gulliver. He joined several ships, but bad luck forced him to be stranded on strange lands. Liliput was only his first part of adventure, where he found himself in a land inhabited by a race of tiny people: Liliput. He finally could get home but not long after, involved in another sailing ship. He was abandoned by his companions, and soon found himself in the midst of a gigantic race of Brobdingnab. Gulliver’s next adventure was in a floating nation of Laputa, after his ship was being attacked by pirates. But the most inspiring journey, both for Gulliver and for his readers), might be that in the country of the Houyhnhnms—a race of talking horses.

As Gulliver has often mentioned throughout the book, his journal was not intended to amuse readers with fascinated adventures, but rather to introduce them of other civilizations so that we can learn to be a better race. I think Swift wrote it to satirize the political situation and humanity values at that time. The way Gulliver was stranded among, first, tiny people; then gigantic race, showed how superiority and inferiority stand among us—it’s not about who we are, but with whom we live. When Gulliver was in Liliput, he urinated on their castle on pretext of extinguishing the fire, without much remorse. But when he was in Brobdingnab, Gulliver became much more sensitive and was easily offended by (what the Brobdingnab people thought as) some trifles.

Gulliver’s changes of mood between adventures showed how we are strongly influenced by the society. When he was at Liliput, he boasted about his native country, England, and thought the Liliputians as unscrupulous. But when he was with the Houyhnhnms, he began to think of his fellows as disgusting. It also showed that humans are molded by habits; the longer you take it, the longer you can shake it. I didn’t take particular notes, but I think Gulliver’s stay in Houyhnhnms was longer than his others’, and so it was hard for him to get used to live in his old civilization.

Although Swift presented us a lot of fascinated adventures in strange lands, it is not easy to enjoy this book. Maybe because it was intended to be a journal, with flat and monotonous sentences, and with many statistics and scientific methods; which fittingly placed Gulliver’s Travels in Enlightenment lit category.

Three stars for Gulliver’s Travels.


I read Penguin English Library paperback

This book is counted as:


  1. You are so right that this is not a children's book! I'm so surprised that it ever got labelled as such. I read this book earlier in the year and loved it! Swift manages to condemn pretty much the whole human race but he does it so subtly and with such creativity that it's quite impressive. I loved how he inverted the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos, making the beasts human and vice versa.

    Here's my review: http://cleoclassical.blogspot.ca/2015/01/gullivers-travles-by-jonathan-swift.html

    1. Yes, the Houyhnhnms part is also my favorite; it's the one where Swift's satire is most obvious.

  2. I read (actually re-read) Gulliver's Travels for this month's literary movement theme as well and I did not like it. I tried to... but I couldn't.

  3. Yeah, definitely NOT a children's book! : D

    I have to reread this someday b/c when I first read it, I totally overlooked the satire. One cannot read Gulliver's Travels literally.

    1. Yeah...and it's only in the Houyhnhnms's land (I would never spell it correctly myself, I think) did Swift poured his thoughts on humanity.

  4. I consider 'Gulliver's Travel' a masterpiece! I love it so much, and it is a deep work filled with symbols and deep meanings. I read it for the second time! For the challenge, I read Swift's"Gulliver Travels', Defoe "Robinson Crusoe", Johnson's "Rasselas: The Prince of Abyssinia", Diderto's "Jacques the Fatalist", and Voltaire's "Zadig", but I couldn't read Rousseau's "Reveries of the Solitary Walker".

  5. True, Gulliver's Travel is associated with children's literature. Probably because of the movie! I remember watching the cartoon when I was a kid and truly enjoyed it :) I haven't read the book though.


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