Book Review: “Gulliver’s Travels”

So, I’m running a little late with this book review (still Saturday, I guess). I’ve been scrounging to the the last 2/3 of the book done TODAY, first because I have homework due, and second because I needed to post this book review. My husband and I have spent the last two days (Thursday and Friday) on a road trip with our two kids from North Carolina to Arkansas, to visit my in-laws for the Thanksgiving holiday. While we really enjoyed the scenic drive, it didn’t leave much chance for reading (I get car sick). We also didn’t have a chance to get the audio book ordered, downloaded or borrowed from the library in the week before our trip – it was a very hectic week!

But, I managed to finish the book today (literally minutes ago), and I am right on time for this review!

This week we read our third book for November’s “Month of Travel” theme, and finished the 12th book of our book challenge. Our reading was Jonathan Swift’s classic novel Gulliver’s Travels.

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I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read this book before this week, but I am glad I picked it up. Besides being able to kill two birds with one stone (this book was required reading for my “17th and 18th Century British Literature” course), I really enjoyed Swift’s satirical novel!

Honest assessment: this book is kind of tedious. It’s an exciting adventure story following Gulliver on his travels to magical lands, where he encounters people who are described as vastly different than those of his home of London, but which are, deep down, not much different than the land of Gulliver’s origins. Swift brilliantly uses satire to comment on human nature, pointing out how we all have desires (for wealth, for immortality, for intellect), but it is in our nature to be disappointed with whatever our situations are, even if we achieve all these things.

My favorite part of the novel was Gulliver’s visit to Lilliput, where he encounters a race no more than 6 inches tall, where Gulliver towers over even the buildings. Swift satirizes the state of English politics, poking fun at politicians by calling them “small,” and comparing politics to circus performances. The comedy is tongue-in-cheek, and Swift blatantly bashes politics (particularly the King, Queen and the Whig party, who Swift himself clashed with), hiding behind the guise of telling a silly story (because, of course, politics are pretty silly).

Taken simply for the story, Swift still tells an interesting tale, that has stood the test of time! Navigating the language barrier got better through practiced reading (it was actually the punctuation that got to me, and I found myself inserting periods to separate the various ideas that were in each paragraph-long sentence).

Did you read along? Did you love the story? Did you have trouble with the language? Which race of people were your favorites?

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1 Comment

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One response to “Book Review: “Gulliver’s Travels”

  1. kathleen

    Yes, I did read along… I felt like I was in “throwback Thursday- vintage slang the whole time. I found the story bizarre but I really liked some parts of it. It was kind of like playing with Barbie Dolls again and I was the giant. My favorite race were the Hauyhnhnms- of course- as Gullivar so admired their honesty and purity. It is funny to find out where the word Yahoo came from ( vintage slang right from Jonathan Swift ) Do you think the word “gullible” comes from Gulliver?

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