Review: Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many people recognize the name Jonathan Swift and some of us probably suffered through his “A Modest Proposal” at one point in our education. I say “suffer” mostly in jest because I know that’s what I did when I first came across him; mostly because he was mandatory reading and my engagement with reading was quite different then. I go back now and can certainly appreciate “A Modest Proposal” (and one can even find an a free reading at Librivox). So when Gulliver’s Travels came into my hands, I decided I should read it and found it rewarding. Here’s a book written just under 300 years ago and I was impressed how accessible it truly is. It’s not a fantastic story by any means; after all, there’s very little dialogue and some chapters can be rather drab, but on the whole, I could appreciate Swift’s criticism of humanity and society.

Gulliver’s Travel is the account of a ship doctor and his four escapades into uncharted lands, each with their own unique attributes that Gulliver records. In the land of Lilliput, Gulliver is a giant among small 6-inch humans while in the land of Brobdingnag, he is as small to the natives as the Lilliputians were to him. He visits the floating island of Laputa and finishes his travels in the land of Houyhnhnms, an intelligent and utopian race of horses who eventually banish him from their society. On its face value, it’s an enjoyable story as readers learn about the different societies and how they exist, their customs, government, rituals, and beliefs. Of course, Swift wrote this as a political satire of the modern world of the early 1700s and the different European states. And a good version of this book will inform of you things that today’s common reader might not intuitively know as Swift’s contemporaries might. Still, it’s an enjoyable read because his discussions of ethnocentrism and cultural elitism still permeate in our world today. Every society fosters some belief that theirs is the superior way of life.

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