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Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift - NEW Book

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Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift  - NEW Book

Gullivers Travels - Jonathan Swift - New Book

Paperback

The book presents itself as a simple traveller's narrative with the disingenuous title Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, its authorship assigned only to "Lemuel Gulliver, first a surgeon, then a captain of several ships". Different editions contain different versions of the prefatory material which are basically the same as forewords in modern books. The book proper then is divided into four parts, which are as follows.

May 4, 1699 — April 13, 1702

The book begins with a short preamble in which Gulliver, in the style of books of the time, gives a brief outline of his life and history prior to his voyages. He enjoys travelling, although it is that love of travel that is his downfall.

On his first voyage, Gulliver is washed ashore after a shipwreck and awakes to find himself a prisoner of a race of people one-twelfth the size of normal human beings (6 inches/15cm tall), who are inhabitants of the neighbouring and rival countries of Lilliput and Blefuscu. After giving assurances of his good behaviour, he is given a residence in Lilliput and becomes a favourite of the court. From there, the book follows Gulliver's observations on the Court of Lilliput, which is intended to satirize the court of George I (King of England at the time of the writing of the Travels). Gulliver assists the Lilliputians to subdue their neighbours the Blefuscudians (by stealing their fleet). However, he refuses to reduce the country to a province of Lilliput, displeasing the King and the court. Gulliver is charged with treason and sentenced to be blinded. With the assistance of a kind friend, Gulliver escapes to Blefuscu, where he spots and retrieves an abandoned boat and sails out to be rescued by a passing ship which takes him back home.

June 20, 1702 — June 3, 1706

When the sailing ship Adventure is steered off course by storms and forced to go in to land for want of fresh water, Gulliver is abandoned by his companions and found by a farmer who is 72 feet (22 m) tall (the scale of Lilliput is approximately 1:12; of Brobdingnag 12:1, judging from Gulliver estimating a man's step being 10 yards (9.1 m)). He brings Gulliver home and his extremely smart and strong daughter cares for Gulliver. The farmer treats him as a curiosity and exhibits him for money. The word gets out and the Queen of Brobdingnag wants to see the show. She loves Gulliver and he is then bought by her and kept as a favourite at court.

Since Gulliver is too small to use their huge chairs, beds, knives and forks, the queen commissions a small house to be built for Gulliver so that he can be carried around in it. This box is referred to as his travelling box. In between small adventures such as fighting giant wasps and being carried to the roof by a monkey, he discusses the state of Europe with the King, who is not impressed. On a trip to the seaside, his "travelling box" is seized by a giant eagle which drops Gulliver and his box right into the sea where he is picked up by some sailors, who return him to England.

August 5, 1706 — April 16, 1710

After Gulliver's ship is attacked by pirates, he is marooned near a desolate rocky island, near India. Fortunately he is rescued by the flying island of Laputa, a kingdom devoted to the arts of music and mathematics but utterly unable to use these for practical ends. The device described simply as The Engine is possibly the first literary description in history of something resembling a computer. Laputa's method of throwing rocks at rebellious surface cities also seems the first time that aerial bombardment was conceived as a method of warfare. While there, he tours the country as the guest of a low-ranking courtier and sees the ruin brought about by blind pursuit of science without practical results in a satire on the Royal Society and its experiments. He travels to a magician's dwelling and discusses history with the ghosts of historical figures, the most obvious restatement of the "ancients versus moderns" theme in the book. He also encounters the struldbrugs, unfortunates who are immortal, but not forever young, but rather forever old, complete with the infirmities of old age. Gulliver is then taken to Balnibarbi to await a Dutch trader who can take him on to Japan.The trip is otherwise reasonably free of incident and Gulliver returns home, determined to stay there for the rest of his days.

September 7, 1710 – July 2, 1715

Despite his earlier intention of remaining at home, Gulliver returns to sea as a captain. On this voyage he is forced to find new additions to his crew who he believes to have turned the rest of the crew against him. His crew then mutiny and after keeping him contained for some time resolve to leave him on the first piece of land they come across and continue on as pirates. He is abandoned in a landing boat and comes first upon a race of (apparently) hideous deformed creatures to which he conceives a violent antipathy. Shortly thereafter he meets a horse and comes to understand that the horses (in their language Houyhnhnm or "the perfection of nature") are the rulers and the deformed creatures ("Yahoos") are human beings in their base form. Gulliver becomes a member of the horse's household, and comes to both admire and emulate the Houyhnhnms and their lifestyle, rejecting humans as merely Yahoos endowed with some semblance of reason which they only use to exacerbate and add to the vices Nature gave them. However, an Assembly of the Houyhnhnms rules that Gulliver, a Yahoo with some semblance of reason, is a danger to their civilization and he is expelled. He is then rescued, against his will, by a Portuguese ship, and is surprised to see that the captain, a Yahoo, is a wise, courteous and generous person. He returns to his home in England. However, he is unable to reconcile himself to living among Yahoos; he becomes a recluse, remaining in his house, largely avoiding his family and his wife, and spending several hours a day speaking with the horses in his stables.

 

About the Author Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for Whigs then for the Tories), poet and cleric who became Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin. He is remembered for works such as Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms—such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier—or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.

In February 1702, Jonathan Swift received his Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College, Dublin. That spring he traveled to England and returned to Ireland in October, accompanied by Esther Johnson—now twenty years old—and his friend Rebecca Dingley, another member of William Temple's household. There is a great mystery and controversy over Swift's relationship with Esther Johnson nicknamed "Stella". Many hold that they were secretly married in 1716.During his visits to England in these years Swift published A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books (1704) and began to gain a reputation as a writer. This led to close, lifelong friendships with Alexander Pope, John Gay, and John Arbuthnot, forming the core of the Martinus Scriblerus Club (founded in 1713). Swift became increasingly active politically in these years. From 1707 to 1709 and again in 1710, Swift was in London, unsuccessfully urging upon the Whig administration of Lord Godolphin the claims of the Irish clergy to the First-Fruits and Twentieths ("Queen Anne's Bounty"), which brought in about £2500 a year, already granted to their brethren in England. He found the opposition Tory leadership more sympathetic to his cause and Swift was recruited to support their cause as editor of the Examiner when they came to power in 1710. In 1711, Swift published the political pamphlet "The Conduct of the Allies," attacking the Whig government for its inability to end the prolonged war with France. The incoming Tory government conducted secret (and illegal) negotiations with France, resulting in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) ending the War of the Spanish Succession.

Jonathan Swift was part of the inner circle of the Tory government, and often acted as mediator between Henry St. John (Viscount Bolingbroke) the secretary of state for foreign affairs (1710–15) and Robert Harley (Earl of Oxford) lord treasurer and prime minister (1711–1714). Jonathan Swift recorded his experiences and thoughts during this difficult time in a long series of letters to Esther Johnson, later collected and published as The Journal to Stella. The animosity between the two Tory leaders eventually led to the dismissal of Harley in 1714. With the death of Queen Anne and ascension of George I that year, the Whigs returned to power and the Tory leaders were tried for treason for conducting secret negotiations with France. Also during these years in London, Swift became acquainted with the Vanhomrigh family and became involved with one of the daughters, Esther, yet another fatherless young woman and an ambiguous relationship to confuse Swift's biographers. Swift furnished Esther with the nickname "Vanessa" and she features as one of the main characters in his poem Cadenus and Vanessa. The poem and their correspondence suggests that Esther was infatuated with Swift, that he may have reciprocated her affections, only to regret it and then try to break it off. Esther followed Swift to Ireland in 1714, where there appears to have been a confrontation, possibly involving Esther Johnson. Esther Vanhomrigh died in 1728 at the age of 35. Another lady with whom he had a close but less intense relationship, was Anne Long, a toast of the Kit-Cat Club.

 

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