Gulliver's Travels

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A satire by Swift, published 1726 as Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World ‘By Lemuel Gulliver’.

Swift probably conceived the idea of a satire in the form of a narrative of travels at the meetings of the Scriblerus Club, and intended it to form part of the ‘Memoirs of Scriblerus’.

In the first part Lemuel Gulliver, a surgeon on a merchant ship, relates his shipwreck on the island of Lilliput, the inhabitants of which are six inches high. Owing to this diminutive scale, the pomp of the emperor, the civil feuds of the inhabitants, and the war with their neighbours across the channel, are made to look ridiculous. The English political parties and religious denominations are satirized in the description of the wearers of high heels and low heels, and of the controversy on the question whether eggs should be broken at the big or small end.

In the second part Gulliver is accidentally left ashore on Brobdingnag, where the inhabitants are as tall as steeples, and everything else is in proportion.

The third part is occupied with a visit to the flying island of Laputa, and its neighbouring continent and capital Lagado. Here the satire is directed against philosophers, men of science –(especially of the Royal Society)–, historians, and projectors, with special reference to the South Sea Company. Gulliver is enabled to call up the great men of old, and discovers the deceptions of history. The Struldbrugs, a race endowed with immortality, turn out to be the most miserable of mankind.

In the fourth part Swift describes the country of the Houyhnhnms, who are horses endowed with reason; their rational, clean, and simple society is contrasted with the filthiness and brutality of the Yahoos, beasts in human shape whose human vices Gulliver is reluctantly forced to recognize.

Subjects: Literature.

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