Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726 -amended in 1735)

The Irish Quarter

Jonathan Swift
1667 to 1745
Dublin, Ireland

Swift has sailed into his rest;
Savage indignation there
Cannot lacerate his breast.
Imitate him if you dare,
World-besotted traveller; he
Served human liberty.

Gulliver's Travels is one of the great classics of world literature.   Many people consider it the greatest work of satire ever written.   I first read it maybe 50 plus years ago.   Since then I probably have read it three more times, before finishing it this morning the prior read was maybe 20 years ago.   Much of the book  was still very firmly in my mind (of course I have seen the several terrible movies made based on the book) but I am very glad I reread Gulliver's Travels.    There may be  great hatred for humanity in this book and there are deep rooted issues about the human condition but it is a deep celebration of reason in it also.  This is not a child's book, even though children will enjoy parts of it.   There are some odd things in this book but that just makes it all the greater.

Gulliver's Travels is going to be lots of different things to whoever reads it.   I wish I had a blog post from 50 years ago so I could see what I thought of it as a teenager.   (This is a very big plus that younger bloggers will  hopefully have and a reason not to close your blog-the ability to see what you read decades ago.)  I read it now as a text of anti-colonialism.   As I read the last few pages in which Gulliver reflects on the process by which colonial rulers take over other countries and then says "Oh not the English, of course" I thought that the English authorities probably never read that far in his book and if they did they did not get the  point, luckily for Swift.

I love the prose in this book.   It is the very model of perfect clarity and searing intelligence shines through.   Some people try to explain all the of the historical references in this book but to me that diminishes it.   I really think people, and I certainly hope, that people will be reading Gulliver's Travels a thousand years from now (just like now not many people will read it but somebody will) and be stunned by it.   
"I have been to Lilliput"-
"Ok I will add this to my reading list"-

It was fascinating to see Gulliver change over the 15 year period of his history.  

Gulliver's Travels is not a hard boring book, it is a lot of fun to read and parts of it will shock you.   

Swift was probably the first person from Ireland to write a book that is still read.   

I hope to pay my respects at his  tomb in May next year.

Mel u
The Reading Life


Rosaria Williams said...

Ah, yes, time to re-read such an important book!

Blogging Profits Unleashed said...

This is my first time reading this classic satire and I enjoyed it very much. A classic that deserves to be read by children and adults alike.

Mel u said...

rosaria williams-for sure worth a reread-thanks so much for your comments and visits