Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gulliver's Travels

It's been ages since I've read Swift's Gulliver's Travels, certainly not as an adult. And I don't think that the edition I read as a child contained the last two parts. I was amazed how much I did remember, like the description of the wasps in Brobdingnag.

It's a book that can be read purely for entertainment and the outlandish people and countries Gulliver visits make it a great book for lovers of fantasy. But you ignore the satire and social commentary at your own risk. Swift was a sharp-tongued observer of his time and he uses Gulliver's adventures to discuss his views of humanity and politics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gulliver.jpg
Gulliver Exhibited to the Brobdingnag Farmer by Richard Redgrave

Gulliver starts out convinced that his society is superior to others, but he's quickly disabused of that notion. Everyone he meets is amused, horrified or at least highly critical of the things Gulliver has to say. As a result, Gulliver grows equally critical of his native country and finally of humans in general. He cannot stand the company of humans (Yahoos) and prefers to spend his time with horses after his visit to the country of the Houyhnhnms (highly intelligent horses).

Unless you are very well versed in history, I would recommend reading an annotated edition to help understand all the allusions Swift makes.

My 37th book for the Library Challenge and the 3rd for the Ireland Challenge

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