Gulliver's Travels, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


'Thus, gentle Reader, I have given thee a faithful History of my Travels for Sixteen Years, and above Seven Months; wherein I have not been so studious of Ornament as of Truth.' In these words Gulliver represents himself as a reliable reporter of the fantastic adventures he has just set down; but how far can we rely on a narrator whose identity is elusive and whoses inventiveness is self-evident?

Gulliver's Travels purports to be a travel book, and describes Gulliver's encounters with the inhabitants of four extraordinary places: Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, and the country of the Houyhnhnms.

A consummately skilful blend of fantasy and realism makes Gulliver's Travels by turns hilarious, frightening, and profound.

Swift plays tricks on us, and delivers one of the world's most disturbing satires of the human condition.

This new edition includes the changing frontispiece portraits of Gulliver that appeared in successive early editions.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages, original frontispiece; 5 halftones & 3 maps
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800
  • ISBN: 9780199536849

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Even on (fifth? sixth?) read, and even with a stronger acquaintance with the sources (hello, Gargantua! sup Lycurgus), the inventiveness never flags. And the satire certainly has its flat-in-2010 moments (mockin' on Walpole and Bolingbroke, like that immortal Simpsons moment when Barney and Wade Boggs get in a fistfight about whether the greatest British prime minister was Pitt the Elder or Lord Palmerston), but overall it surprises you with its Juvenalian saturninity, its baleful eye. These are stories you'll never forget, as useful for an impromptu fairytale as for thinking about the good society in a new way at 17, realizing "hey, the Houyhnhnms aren't the good guys at all . . . ."<br><p>No, the reason this loses a half star as I return to it in fullblown manhood is that I'm a lot less susceptible to the Augustan smoothness with which Swift invites us to agree with him, a lot less willing to accept the "dark failure" view of mankind as seductive now that I know I won't just forget it as soon as I go outside in the teenage sunshine. I won't condemn Swift's misanthropy on general principle. But I think we have to condemn him on the specifics too. So often he's condemning lawyers and whoremasters and degenerate nobles and all the usual targets, and then he gets around to women, and you'd expect the usual stuff about how they're silly and grasping or whatever, but Swift condemns them for "lewdness", and given the state of patriarchal relations at that time, that is fucking appalling. Or another example: footnote tells me that when he makes fun of "fiddlers" in Book IV, it's far from idle talk--this man, this deacon and thunderbolt moralist <i>refused to come to a man's defense</i> on a rape charge because he was a fiddler. It's "hang 'im! If he's not guilty of this it'll just be something else. Fiddlers."<br><p>And it comes across in the satire. How can it not? And it makes me sour. So don't love Jon Swift, but read <i>Gulliver's Travels</i>, the vividest English novel of the 18th c.

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