Tag Archives: Gulliver’s Travels

Girl reads Gulliver

This installment of “What’s on my nightstand?” is about a book that’s been on my nightstand for weeks.  Every free moment I have, I’m reading Anna Karenina, so I did what I’ve done before… I pawned the book off on one of my children.  May I present…

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver
retold by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Riddell

… and reviewed by this blogger’s daughter.

I chose to read this book because I thought it might be interesting.  The illustrations looked funny. (and because mom asked if anyone wanted to read the book and help her blog about it)

The book is about Gulliver.  He’s a sailor but he ends up going to all of these crazy places like with little tiny people, and huge people, and horses that talk.  He also visits an island and goes to Japan for a little bit.

Gulliver is pretty good in languages to be able to learn all the different ones so quickly.  He’s good with people.  He can talk himself out of the situations he gets himself into. 

My favorite section to read was the giants.  There’s no competition.  You know how girls like to play house with dolls?  That’s what it was like for Gulliver, except he was the doll.

My least favorite section to read was the house with all the ghosts.  I don’t like the idea of people coming back from the dead.  It was creepy how he talked to all the famous people like Alexander the Great.

The illustrations for this version were very good.  They helped you understand the story better.  With the Yahoos, you wouldn’t understand how bizarre they were without seeing the pictures.

I would read the story again.  It was fun to read and see all the places Gulliver went.

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver… It’s what’s on a blogger’s daughter’s nightstand.

PS.  I, Christine, did quickly peruse the book.  It’s very accurate and the illustrations are a great addition to the story.  Gulliver visits all of the same places as in the original.  Sometimes the book was even a little too accurate–going so far as to include an illustration of the Yahoos in the tree trying to… trying to… well, you remember the ban.


Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Gulliver's Travels


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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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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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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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Land of the Houyhnhnms

For the fourth and final part of our journey, our pilot is flying us over the Houyhnhnms’ Land.  This unusual island is home to Yahoos and Houyhnhnms.  The Yahoos closely resemble humans in appearance, but they lack the ability to reason.  They are terrible, disgusting creatures.  Instead this island is ruled by a noble breed of horses, the Houyhnhnms.  The Houyhnhnms have a spoken language, a system of government, a culture based on truth.  In fact, there is no word for lying in the Houyhnhnm language.  Gulliver was so enamored by the Houyhnhnms that he never wanted to leave… so why did he?


Posted by on September 30, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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The Writing Machine

While at the Academy of Lagado, Gulliver meets a professor who has invented a writing machine. 

He then led me to the Frame, about the sides whereof all his Pupils stood in Ranks.  It was twenty Foot Square, placed in the middle of the Room.  The Superficies was composed of several bits of Wood, about the bigness of a Die, but some larger than others.  They were all inked together by slender Wires.  These bits of Wood were covered on every Square with Paper pasted on them, and on these Papers were written all the Words of their Language in their several Moods, Tenses, and Declensions, but without any Order.

The Professor’s students turn handles connected to the wires and the “whole Disposition of the Words” change.  Students read sections of the frame where two or three words group together and make some semblance of sense.  These groupings are written down and later the Professor will decode the text and find that “out of those rich Materials to give the World a complete Body of all Arts and Sciences.”

Do you think I can order one of these on Amazon?  It would be helpful when writing blog posts.

The Writing Machine at the Academy of Lagado

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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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A Man’s Gar Glob Stop

A Man’s Gar Glob Stop…is really Anagrams Blog Post.  Annagrams are not my thing.  I need some extra help with this part of GT.

According to my college dictionary, an anagram “is a word or phrase formed by reordering the letters of another word or phrase.”  This definition did not help me at all in deciphering the anagrams of Gulliver’s Travels

For example according to the notes at the end of my novel: Mildendo, Lorbrulgrud, Lagado, and Maldonada are all supposed to be anagrams of London.

Is there an M in the word London?  No!  There is also no G and no B. 
So, it’s a good thing I had all those end notes

Another definition I found said that an anagram is “a type of verbal play in which a word or phrase is formed by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase, such as changing united to untied.”  Now we’re getting closer.  But it seems like Swift was doing a lot of playing.  He also seems to be following rules of which I am not aware.

In Part III, chapter VI, Gulliver is visiting the Academy of Lagado.  He explains to a professor that when people are suspected of plotting against a kingdom, their personal papers are “delivered to a set of Artists very dextrous in finding out the mysterious Meanings of Words, Syllables, and Letters.”  He goes on to give examples of Acrostics and Anagrams.

“So for example, if I should say in a Letter to a Friend, Our Brother Tom has just got the Piles, a skilful Decipherer would discover that the same Letters which compose that Sentence, may be analysed into the following Words; Resist, a Plot is brought Home, The Tour. And this is the Anagrammatic Method.” (Part III, chapter VI)

The footnote on that quote says that “to make the anagram work, the letters i and j must be taken as equivalent, as they usually were at this time.”

Ummm.  That still doesn’t explain why in another place in the novel Glubbdubdrib is supposed to be Dublin.  And Lindalino is Dublin too.

I think I’ll rely on my end notes and let the other websites deal with Swift’s Anagrammatic Method. 

And you thought Classic Case of Madness was a niche blog.

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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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Laputa and Balnibarbi

The floating island of Laputa hovers over the island of Balnibarbi.  A loadstone in the make up of Laputa allows it to float.  “By means of this Loadstone, the Island is made to rise and fall, and move from one place to another.”  Passengers may want to shut off all computer devises while flying over this area.  That powerful loadstone can make an entire island hover 4 miles off the ground.  I’m not sure what kind of damage it would do to your Blackberry.

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


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Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan

Fellow travelers, if you will look out the left-side windows, you’ll see a cluster of islands.  It is in this part of the world that Gulliver began his third voyage.  Our poor hero’s ship was attacked by pirates.  These evil men forced him into a canoe and set him adrift.  It is during this time that Gulliver experienced life on a floating island,  He observed local people in intense scientific experiments.  The ruler of one area allowed him to speak with the dead.  Meeting immortals, changed our main characters feelings about living forever.  At one point Lemuel Gulliver had to impersonate a Dutchman.  Our main character sure earned his five passport stamps on this journey.

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Posted by on September 17, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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