Tag Archives: Gulliver’s Travels

Politics Transformed!

New political ideas just in from Balnibarbi!   I think they would revolutionize America.  Local politician not listening to your ideas?  Well, feel free to pull his nose or give him a swift kick!  Continue to do so every time you state your request until he complies.   Opposing political parties who can’t agree?   Well, simply match the opponents according to height, cut each one’s cranium delicately in two, and give each one 1/2 of the other’s brain.  With two opposing sides combined in one space, they would surely come to agreement quickly!   Need to raise money for your government?   Place a tax on vices and follies. – Oh wait! – We’ve done that already, right?  Cigarettes, anyone?  So, instead, Balnibarbi suggests taxing those who excel in sex appeal, wit, valor, fashion sense or politeness.   “To whom much has been given, much shall be required.”   Elected officials seem to be more chosen for their money or popularity than for their common sense or results?  Try having raffle-style elections and leave it all up to Fate.     Revolutionary ideas!  What say you?

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Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels



Brobdingnag: the illustration’s end note

Yesterday I shared with you the original illustrated map for Brobdingnag.  Did you happen to notice that the plate had an end note?  Let me share that note with you.

New Albion was the old name for California and some of the other names are Californian; the Straits of Annian correspond perhaps to San Francisco Bay, but the scatological implication of the name is clearer.

Scatological?  Scat?  like animal droppings?  Take a second look at the illustration.  Can you find the Straights of Annian?  What does the area look like?  

I’ll use the word that’s allowed at our house.  Bum.  It’s a giant bum!  I can’t get away from the bathroom humor in this book, so today I’ll embrace it and share with you this song from the tv show Scrubs.   Christina, if the ban is still in place, don’t click on the link.


Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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Now we’re flying over the country of Brobdingnag.  Normally when one looks out the window of an aircraft, he thinks that people on the ground look like ants.  Because of their tremendous size, the people of Brobdingnag look like people–even from the air.  Lemuel Gulliver was stranded on the shore of Brobdingnag when his vessel made an exploratory trip to replenish water supplies.  Please remain seated as we fly over this country.  The proportionally large weather may cause the aircraft to experience some turbulence.

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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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They’re back.

Oh, Roman Numerals, how I’ve missed you.  Can it be?  The largest number in Gulliver’s Travels is XII ?  Pish-posh.  How fun is that?  Oh, for the days of Don Quixote when chapters went up to LXXIV… 

Right.  Maybe I don’t miss those big letter-numbers after all.

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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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Lilliput and Blefuscu

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you will look out the right side of the aircraft, you will see two small islands off the coast of Sumatra.  These islands were made famous by surgeon Lemuel Gulliver.  These tiny islands are home to some extraordinary people whose average height is about six inches tall.  Imagine Gulliver’s experiences with this diminutive culture.  Now if you’ll put your tray table in an upright position and fasten your seatbelts, we’ll continue on with the novel.

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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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No stories for you!

Jeannette taked about Lilliputian schools in a former post.  Something else in this chapter of GT caught my attention. 

One thing you will not find happening in female nurseries is story-telling.

And if it be found that these Nurses ever presume to entertain the Girls with frightful or foolish Stories, or the common Follies practised by Chamber-Maids among us, they are publicly whipped thrice about the City, imprisoned for a Year, and banished for Life to the most desolate Part of the Country.

Yowza.  I suppose storytime at the library is out of the question.

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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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(I don’t think I’d fare very well with) Parenting in Lilliput

“Parents are the last of all to be trusted with the education of their own children.”
Therefore, they truck them all away to boarding schools, of sorts, divided by “class” and very rigorously controlled. That pretty much makes parenting extinct, except for the very early years. I wonder what Jonathan Swift would think of home schooling?

There were a couple of statements of policy in these schools that I did think would be good ideas to implement here:
1. In the male schools, the boys were only allowed to “take their diversions” in the company of a professor or other adult, “whereby they avoid those early bad impressions of folly and vice to which our children are subject.” (This might discourage vandalism, bullying, etc…) Interesting.
2. In regards to the girls, they “despise all personal ornaments beyond decency and cleanliness,” (no excessive piercings or tattoos in Lilliput, apparently) and they focus on education as much as the boys, because, “among people of quality a wife should always be a reasonable and agreeable companion, because she can not always be young.”


Posted by on September 1, 2011 in The Blog


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Themes in Classic Literature?

Here we are at the start of the third novel in our WEM quest.  I’m only a few chapters into Gulliver’s Travels, but I have noticed some shared themes between this novel and the first two books. 

1.  Travel 
     DQ had sallies throughout the countryside.  
     PP had its journey to the Celestial City.  
     Gulliver’s Travels–well, it’s in the title.  Traveling will be part of the story.

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 GT, the roles are reversed.  Gulliver is tiny compared to the people of Brobdingnag

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.
    So far in GT, I’ve read about two instances of No 1 and one instance of No 2.

So there you have it.  Major themes in classic literature. Impressive, no?


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Maybe I Won’t

I am having the opposite problem that Christina is having.  Maybe we should trade books.

My copy of Gulliver’s Travels is 271 pages, and it has over 500 end notes.  Do the math.  That’s right!  That means for every page, I’m having to flip to the back of my book and read two notes.  And I do read them.  As an oldest child, I’m a rule-follower.  I listen closely to the editor.  I interrupt the plot and read his notes.

Notes that define a word.  Notes that clear up an archaic spelling.  Notes that attempt to crack Swift’s anagram code.  Notes that say” perhaps this means” or “possibly represents”  or “meant to suggest”.  Notes that explain a historical reference or parody.  These are the ones I depend upon the most.  I have little knowledge of the history of Swift’s time and his satire deals directly with this!  Sometimes there are no notes and I sail through the text.  Other times it’s five or six on one page, and I don’t have enough bookmarks or fingers to mark my place as I flip back and forth.

And when this happens, I am no longer reading a novel, but instead I am struggling with an encyclopedia.  The constant interruptions frustrate me as the reader.

Look what GT editor Robert Demaria, Jr says about this.

If a writer can defraud a reader of literary profit and pleasure by too much dependence on remote historical context, an editor runs at least an equal risk of aiding and abetting the crime, even as he tries to mitigate its effects.  

Ooo, I like this.
Then there’s this…

The editor of Gulliver’s Travels runs the additional risk of becoming part of Swift’s grand joke by providing glosses and interpretations of a text that is itself parodic and therefore turns sober interpretation of it into something silly, like ‘metaparody’.

Metaparody?  That doesn’t sound good at all.  I don’t want to be part of Swift’s joke.
I want to read freely, so I won’t read the end notes! 
But wait!

Like other editors of Swift, I have not avoided being part of the joke, but I have tried to remember that if Gulliver’s Travels could not be read without notes, it probably would not be read at all. (page xxix of the Penguin Classics 2003 edition)

Oh, that’s right.  I need those end notes.  Maybe I’ll read them after all.


Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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Have Passport. Will Travel.

Here is our main character, Lemuel Gulliver, as seen in reproduction photographs of the original illustration plates.  We’re going to remote nations of the world, so prepare your passports. 
And now on to Gulliver’s Travels!


Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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