Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Gulliver's Travels" By Jonathan Swift

I picked up this audiobook as it is a classic and I never read it.

Summary: Gulliver is a man who spends much of his life at sea, as a surgeon, captain and ship owner. On four separate trips he ridiculously lost and finds himself in a land well beyond anything charted on any map. This premise is a bit absurd, but ultimately, it is an excuse to place Gulliver in societies that look nothing like the British lands he grew up in.

The first land he finds is filled with people incredibly smaller than him. He is enslaved by them and spends much of the time trying to convince them that he is not going to destroy them. The second place is filled with people much bigger than him and he is paraded around like a fancy pet in a special box. The third place is a floating city that rests on powerful magnets that repel the earth. These are scientist/philosophers with their time dedicated to pondering. The forth place, my favorite, is the land of the horse people. Here the horses are intelligent and the humans are of animal minds. These ignorant humans are called Houyhnhnms and Swift goes out of his way to use it as an insult against British elites, over and over.

In each place Gulliver takes careful note of every similarity and difference between the strangers and his own homeland. Much of the book is a critique of 18th century Britain by demonstrating how much better these strangers appear to be. And when similarities are highlighted, they are often so that Swift can use the fictional characters to illustrate the flaws he sees in British society. These observations are delivered as devoid of emotion as possible to give them a feeling of simple scientific truth, which makes the jokes that much funnier.

What I Liked: Swift takes full advantage of the story to comment on the lives of his fellow citizens. He does not

What I Didn't Like: It sounds stupid, but I have difficulty with classics partly because of the language barrier, we'll call it. These days, no one talks like Swift, and it means I have to spend extra effort to figure out what some of the sentences mean. It's not his fault, but it still detracts from the experience.

Rating: Recommended.

Also Read by this Author: None.

Reviewed by: Nick

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