the imaginative conservative
Two-hundred, ninety-four years ago, today, the book of satirical stories, Gulliver’s Travels was published. Written by Irish clergyman Jonathan Swift, the original title was Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships. That has to be the longest book title in existence. I’ve never read any of it, nor have I seen the various movies that have been put out. That being said, there are several well written summaries and opinions on the material and, I’m not reinventing the wheel. ~Vic
Gulliver’s name probably is an allusion to King Lemuel of Proverbs 31, who was a weak-minded prophet. Swift may also be connecting his character to a common mule, a half-ass, half-horse animal that is known for being stubborn and stupid. A gull is a person who is easily fooled or gullible. At the same time, Gulliver represents the everyman with his average intelligence and general good humor. The reader is able to identify with him and join him in his travels. Even though Swift constantly alludes to events that were happening while he was alive, the story rings true today, bringing light to our own societal issues and to patterns of human nature. Throughout Gulliver’s voyages, Swift goes to great lengths to scrutinize, parody, and satire various aspects of human, and often English, society.
A mock work of travel literature, Jonathan Swift’s famous novel is a far deeper work than one of just Juvenalian and Horatian satire. It is an indictment against the prevailing spirit of Enlightenment philosophy and utopianism, an esoteric defense of Christianity against its Enlightenment critics, and a prophetic vision into the future degeneration of humanity in following the dictates of the natural philosophers of modernity. Swiftian irony is one of the great joys of the work. [Where] traditional literary narrative has the travelling protagonist return home to comfort and love, Swift’s Gulliver returns home deranged and a hater of humanity.
1939 Animated Movie (IMDb)
1977 UK Movie (IMDb)
1996 TV Mini-Series (IMDb)
20th Century Fox 2010 Movie (IMDb)
Gulliver’s Travels (Wikipedia)
Jonathan Swift (Wikipedia)
Wikisource Text of the Book