Category Archives: Gulliver’s Travels

Classic Themes Revisited

Last September I had a revelation about classic literature themes.  At that point our group had read the first three novels of the WEM list.  I noticed that these books had three themes in common.  I’ve copied part of that post here and added what I’ve found in my reading of Moby-Dick to these notes.  I’m thinking I have thesis material for my DIY degree.

1.  Travel
*In the book Don Quixote, the main character had sallies throughout the countryside.
*In Pilgrim’s Progress Christian and Christiana had journeys to the Celestial City.
*In Gulliver’s Travels–well, it’s in the title.  Traveling is part of the story.  Actually four parts of the story.
*In Moby-Dick Ishmael signs up for a three-year stint on a whaling ship.

2. Giants
*Don Quixote thought he saw giants where windmills were.
*Christian had a terrible encounter with the Giant Despair.  There was also the Giant Maul.
*The people of Lilliput call Lemuel Gulliver a “man-mountain”.  To their six-inch frames, Gulliver is a giant.
In the second part of Gulliver’s Travels, the roles are reversed.  Gulliver is tiny compared to the people of Brobdingnag.
*In chapter 34 of Moby-Dick, the harpoonist named Daggoo is described as having “colossal limbs, making the low cabin framework to shake, as when an African elephant goes passenger in a ship.”  Later the book says, “Not by beef or by bread, are giants made or nourished.”

3. Bodily Functions:  I’ll try to be discreet and follow the lead of my fellow blogger.
*DQ had balsam; and a separate instance with Sancho on his donkey that I wish I could forget.
*In PP, Matthew takes a medicine to help him with his guilt gripe.
*In GT, I read about two instances of No 1 and one instance of No 2.
*My very first footnote in chapter one of Moby-Dick explains this phrase “if you never violate the Pthagorean maxim.”  Here’s the footnote: Pythagoras advised his disciples “to abstain from beans because they are flatulent and partake most of the breath of life.”

All of the novels we’ve read have included some sort of travel.  Elizabeth travels with her aunt and uncle.  Oliver runs away to London.  Jane goes to boarding school, takes a carriage to Thornfield Hall, and travels on foot across the moor.  Hester and Pearl take a boat across the ocean in the epilogue.

Sadly, or not so sadly, none of the other novels involve giants or bodily functions.

I’m imagining what it will be like to do an oral defense of my “thesis”.  Don’t you think the scholars will be impressed?


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Ribaldry Dribble

ribaldry –  n.   rude, lewd and vulgar humor

Classical Usage:  Mr. Rochester is having one of his illusive conversations with Jane.  He’s hinting, dropping ambiguous lines of truth into overstated overtures, and making intriguing statements about his own, and her, character.  Those conversations where you first get to know someone, first fall in love with them, and yet know little of their history are so important because each sentence can reveal decades of insight.  This is one of the many nuggets from his past Mr. Rochester gave Jane to examine, “When fate wronged me, I had not he wisdom to remain cool:  I turned desperate; then I degenerated.  Now, when any vicious simpleton excites my disgust by his paltry ribaldry, I cannot flatter myself that I am better than he:  I am forced to confess that he and I are on a level.”

Classically Mad Usage:  Here at the Blog we try to refrain from all forms of ribaldry.  The same cannot be said for Cervantes and Swift.  I’m sure glad we passed that potty-mouthed phase of classic literature, and now I have a word to describe it that sounds much more respectable.

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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Don Quixote, Gulliver's Travels, Jane Eyre


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Good Grief! More Gulliver?

Look what I found.  No, it’s not the next title in the WEM list.  It’s a collection of classic stories Usborne has illustrated for children.  Check out the titles:

  • Robin Hood
  • Moonfleet
  • Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • The Canterville Ghost

and wait for it…

  • Gulliver’s Travels

See why I had to immediately put a library hold on this book?!

This version of Part 1 of Gulliver’s Travels was retold by Gill Harvey and illustrated by Peter Dennis. 

Although some adaptations have been made, I think the story truer to Swift’s original than the pop-up book.

Gulliver is transported on a wooden cart to the capital city.


Gulliver's pockets are inspected for dangerous items.


The nobles compete in the game of "Leaping and Creeping".

 There are pages devoted to egg debate.  Of course Gulliver steals the naval vessals from the people of Blefescu.  There’s even an illustration of the fire that Gulliver puts out.
This version has him throwing water over the palace to save it. I prefer the change.
This version has Gulliver throwing “water over the palace to save it.”  That’s a small change I prefer.  One detail the storyteller did not change is how the nobles want to kill Gulliver or at least blind him at the end of Part 1.  Don’t worry.  Just like in Swift’s version, Gulliver escapes in a boat and is rescued by people his own size.
I like the Usborne version of Gulliver’s Travels, and I can’t wait until the library informs me that my next hold is ready for pickup.

Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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Gulliver In Lilliput: a pop-up book

Here’s the treasure I found in the used book section of the thrift store. 
Isn’t it great?!  I think that my family had a copy of this book when I was a child. 
Mom, is that right?

I have a memory of the first page with Guliver tied down by the people my son calls “Little-putians”.

The book was adapted by Edward Cunningham and published by Hallmark Children’s Editions, but the glory goes to Michael R. Hague who did the illustrations and to Howard Lohnes who was in charge of Paper Mechanics.  There is no copyright date on the book. 

The story hits a few Gulliver’s highlights while in Lilliput:

Gulliver stretching out a handkerchief so that soldiers could ride their horses around in the air.

Gulliver peeking into the windows of the Imperial Palace.

Gulliver stealing the enemies boats.

Here Gulliver is receiving the honorary title of Nadac for his heroic deeds.

And this is where the children’s version veers off from the original text.  It seems that Gulliver missed his family.  (Who knew?)  The emperor was sad to have Gulliver leave, but he ordered a boat be built for the giant man’s voyage home.  I guess the parts about poisoning him and putting out his eyes weren’t appropraite for a children’s pop-up book.

“For weeks, Gulliver stood watch by the sea, hoping to catch sight of an English vessel.  And finally his prayers were answered.  Calling the Lilliputians together, he thanked them for their friendship and bid them a fond farewell.
     “Good Luck, Man Mountain!” said the emperor.
     “And God bless you always!” added the empress.
     Then, as ten thousand Lilliputians waved and cheered, Gulliver hurried out to meet the ship that would carry him safely back to his home.”

So, the original ending of Part 1 is missing from this version, as is Gulliver from this page’s pop-up.  The white parts on this page show where Gulliver used to be.  For the twenty-five cents I paid for the book, I’ll just imagine Gulliver stepping into the vessel waving good-bye to the little people. 

What classic novels are hiding on your children’s bookshelves?


Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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Got a Minute?

We know that not all of you have the time to commit to reading all these novels with us.  Which is what made me so happy when I found a Book-A-Minute Resource.  That’s right – in less than five minutes you can completely catch up with our eight months of reading.  That seems fair.

Okay, first up:  Don Quixote.  Over 900 pages and 100 chapters condensed into roughly 25 words.  Go ahead and click on the title – it will open a seperate tab, so I’ll be right here waiting for you.

Wow.  That was fast.  It only took us three months.  We’re not jealous.  No, not at all.

Sadly, the succinct writers at Book-A-Minute Classics haven’t added Pilgrim’s Progress to their list.  It’s a real shame.  Maybe I’ll work on one for you.  I do seem to be a little hung up on this particular novel as of late.

This rendition of Gulliver’s Travels will leave you feeling a little cheated, I’m afraid.  Much like Jeannette’s Three Quarter Copy this version is completely lacking one of the four parts.  Click away.

You miss those floating Laputians, don’t you?

This version of Pride and Prejudice may be my favorite.  And if you enjoyed P&P don’ t miss the Collected Works of Jane Austen.

Sadly, Oliver Twist is not on the list of Dicken’s works that these judicious authors have refined.  But to get a sense of Dickens’ distinctive style here are renditions of A Christmas Carol, and Great Expectations.

There, now.  You’re all caught up.  Feel free to buzz on over to the complete list and become certifiably well-read.  But do us a favor – keep it to yourself.  We like to do things the hard way.


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Classics to Movies – Take Two (asprin, and call me in the morning)

A the winner of the Worst Movie Using a Stolen Book Title goes to . . .

Gulliver’s Travels with Jack Black

Not just bad. Really, really, awful.

Next Friday night my husband and I are going back to taking Accelerated Reading quizzes.


Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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continued from www.laughedandlaughed . . .

Whew.  You made it.  I was worried.  For those of you who might have gotten here using a traditional method, rather than following me blindly through the labyrinth that poses as my frontal lobe you might want to back track a bit and read this first.

Okay, are we all together now?  Good.  So, where were we?  Oh yeah, fresh wheat berries led to pig feed, and now here we are to connect it to the work of a literary master.  I hope Swift is okay with this, if not, I’ll just pretend like its satire.

When Gulliver travels to the land of the Houhoumhohummnohonhnhouymns he’s at a loss for food, the horses just eat oats, and the yahoos, well, they’re vile and savage, they have overgrown fingernails they used for tearing into their prey.  So what would become of our hungry traveler?

If it’s good enough for the Houhoumnhouhyyohoomnhouohhoouhoymhouyoumnoyuhmns then it’s good enough Gull.  So, here, for the first time ever, we have a Classic Recipe:

Refined Yahoo Food
1 wooden tray Hlunnh (raw oats)
1 fire
2 stones
water, to taste

Heat the Hlunnh with the fire.  Rub the husks off between your hands.  Grind the oats between the stones.  Mix with water.  Form paste into cakes, toast in the fire.  Choke down with a trough of milk.

So, there you have it – my newly ground flour, to animal feed, to Gulliver, and back again with a must-try recipe.

I hope it works with wheat.


Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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