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Gulliver's Travels

ISBN-10: 0143119117
ISBN-13: 9780143119111
Edition: 2010
Authors: Jonathan Swift
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Description: To say this is a classic of political and social satire is unfair, because Swift INVENTED the genre with this raucous novel. The wayward traveler - Lemuel Gulliver - ends up on a series of bizarrely populated islands. First he is a giant among  More...

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Book details

List price: $15.00
Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/2/2010
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 304
Size: 5.00" wide x 7.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.440
Language: English

To say this is a classic of political and social satire is unfair, because Swift INVENTED the genre with this raucous novel. The wayward traveler - Lemuel Gulliver - ends up on a series of bizarrely populated islands. First he is a giant among little people, but then sees the situation reversed when he's surrounded by giants twelve times his size. Next he finds himself in the clouds, in a society of devoted but ultimately hapless mathematicians. Lastly, his journey brings him to an island where incredibly noble horses must deal with a race of uncouth, reviled ape-men: the Yahoos. The satire is thick and unrelenting, but certainly not specific to the time and situation when Swift wrote it, and thus it has been read and beloved for centuries.

Apparently doomed to an obscure Anglican parsonage in Laracor, Ireland, even after he had written his anonymous masterpiece, A Tale of a Tub (c.1696), Swift turned a political mission to England from the Irish Protestant clergy into an avenue to prominence as the chief propagandist for the Tory government. His exhilaration at achieving importance in his forties appears engagingly in his Journal to Stella (1710--13), addressed to Esther Johnson, a young protegee for whom Swift felt more warmth than for anyone else in his long life. At the death of Queen Anne and the fall of the Tories in 1714, Swift became dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. In Ireland, which he considered exile from a life of power and intellectual activity in London, Swift found time to defend his oppressed compatriots, sometimes in such contraband essays as his Drapier's Letters (1724), and sometimes in such short mordant pieces as the famous A Modest Proposal (1729); and there he wrote perhaps the greatest work of his time, Gulliver's Travels (1726). Using his characteristic device of the persona (a developed and sometimes satirized narrator, such as the anonymous hack writer of A Tale of a Tub or Isaac Bickerstaff in Predictions for the Ensuing Year, who exposes an astrologer), Swift created the hero Gulliver, who in the first instance stands for the bluff, decent, average Englishman and in the second, humanity in general. Gulliver is a full and powerful vision of a human being in a world in which violent passions, intellectual pride, and external chaos can degrade him or her---to animalism, in Swift's most horrifying images---but in which humans do have scope to act, guided by the Classical-Christian tradition. Gulliver's Travels has been an immensely successful children's book (although Swift did not care much for children), so widely popular through the world for its imagination, wit, fun, freshness, vigor, and narrative skill that its hero is in many languages a common proper noun. Perhaps as a consequence, its meaning has been the subject of continuing dispute, and its author has been called everything from sentimental to mad. Swift died in Dublin and was buried next to his beloved "Stella."

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