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Children's Literature | Classic Literature | Fantasy

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

May 13, 2016


As I had put aside my copy of Gulliver’s Travels, I had felt an immense happiness wash over me. Why was I so happy? In most cases, I would feel such happiness only if a book provided me with great enjoyment. However, in this instance, this was not the case. The happiness I had felt after completing Gulliver’s Travels was not because I had loved the book, but, it was because I was immensely happy to finally finish reading an incredibly boring book.

My Review

Title: Gulliver’s Travels

Author: Jonathan Swift

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Pages: 306

Genres: Fantasy, Classic Literature, Satire

Format: Paperback

From Goodreads:  Shipwrecked and cast adrift, Lemuel Gulliver wakes to find himself on Lilliput, an island inhabited by little people, whose height makes their quarrels over fashion and fame seem ridiculous. His subsequent encounters – with the crude giants of Brobdingnag, the philosophical Houyhnhnms and the brutish Yahoos – give Gulliver new, bitter insights into human behaviour. Swift’s savage satire view mankind in a distorted hall of mirrors as a diminished, magnified and finally bestial species, presenting us with an uncompromising reflection of ourselves.

This text, based on the first edition of 1726, reproduces all its original illustrations and includes an introduction by Robert Demaria, Jr, which discusses the ways Gulliver’s Travels has been interpreted since its first publication.

Gulliver’ Travels is considered Jonathan Swift’s best-known work. I had first had the opportunity of reading this novel when I was in school. I had borrowed it from my school library and begun reading the book enthusiastically. Though, as a child, I had found the book too difficult to read and understand, I have a vague memory that I had liked the book. This may have been because of the descriptions of the tiny people, the too big people, strange places etc, all of which had fascinated me as a child. However, several years later, during my college days, when I had read this novel, I had found it immensely boring. At that time, completing this novel had seemed liked a Herculean task to me. My concentration, will power, and desire to read this novel had all wavered every day and the day I had finished Gulliver’s Travels, I had felt sheer relief.

I think one of the reasons I didn’t like this book was because I had expected Gulliver’s Travels to be a fun-filled, care-free, light-hearted children’s classic full of strange people, strange places, and adventures. I had no idea, until recently, that this book is far more than a children’s classic; it is a book which deals with satire, politics, colonialism, morality, human nature, etc. Due to my lack of knowledge about the book’s themes, I had ventured out to read this book with a completely different mindset and expectations. Personally, I am not much interested in reading novels dealing with politics and satire, and hence, I don’t think if I had known about the existence of these themes in this novel, I would have even bought it. On the other hand, may be if I had known about the major themes of the book beforehand, I might have read it with a different mindset, which may have resulted into a good reading experience.

The other flaws in this book which irritated me are its lack of dialogue, conversations, adventures, and twists and turns. The book is more about deep observations and lengthy descriptions than about an actual story with a plot, protagonists, antagonists, twists, and surprises. I think, it is quite natural for readers to expect adventures from this book because of the involvement of tiny people, floating lands, giants, magic, and talking horses, but, as it appears, these elements in the book are not meant for adventure purposes, but, they are rather meant for satirical and political purposes. Hence, readers expecting adventures would be disappointed.

On a happier note, I liked the section about Lilliput. It is good to read and interesting events do take place in this part. I really enjoyed reading about the land of Glubbdubdrib, which constituted only a minor part in the book. I didn’t like most parts of the remainder of the book. I did like a chapter here and there or a page every now and then, but, that’s it, with my attention span growing shorter and shorter as I read this novel, I didn’t really enjoy major sections of the book.

This book would be great for anyone who enjoys reading about satire, politics, human nature, or themes pertaining to these topics. But, if you are looking for an adventurous children’s novel, like I was, then I think you would be disappointed. In my opinion, Gulliver’s Travels is a book which is not everyone’s cup of tea- you will either hate it or just love it.

♥♥—Rating: 2/5

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