Gulliver’s Travels

This is a book by Jonathan Swift about Gulliver, a man who sails all around the world and runs into different species that make him reconsider societal values.  He meets people who are much bigger and much smaller than himself, immortal beings who are trying to deal with eternal old age, horses that are surprised he can talk, and more.  Most of the novel is a mirror to the vices in Gulliver’s own country, England. It is a satire that contains enough material to thoroughly analyze Europe in the 1700s.

The different ideas portrayed in this novel captured my attention.  My favorite part was Gulliver’s last adventure with the Houyhnhnms, rational horses who thought humans/yahoos were the most evil creatures imaginable.  Thinking about how the world might be different if lies did not exist or how people/horses might behave without a government was fascinating.  The author even adds in an amusing side note every once in a while, making fun of various aspects of society.  Another thing I noticed was the relation of a certain characteristic of the Lilliputians (miniature humans) to Dr. Seuss’ The Butter Battle Book.  The Lilliputians are constantly at war with their neighbors because they crack their eggs at the wrong end; the characters in Dr. Seuss’ version fight because they butter their bread on different sides.  This is one of the more obvious messages of the novel: people start wars over the stupidest problems.

Unfortunately, I did not realize what this book would be about before I selected it.  I was looking for a classic to read just for fun, and did not go into enough depth with the social commentary to properly enjoy it.  Although the descriptions were intriguing, they were not exciting enough to stand by themselves, so oftentimes I found myself bored by it.

Gulliver’s Travels did not work for me, but if you are willing to do your background research, this should be a very interesting book.

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