Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Books - Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

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Length: 346 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Author: Jonathan Swift
Publisher: The Penguin English Library

Wow. This book was my Everest! For a 346 page book it was The Never Ending Story without the cute creatures!


But don't let me put you off, because I really enjoyed the story.

This book has been on my TBR list for quite some time, but as soon as a brand new shiny book comes out I obviously forget all about the Classics. Terrible I know. When I was about 16 (so 10 years ago!) I wrote out the BBCs Big Read list, because I'd decided that I was going to read them all! I've Googled it just now and they all seem to have 100 books, but for some reason I've got 200, because I apparently am a slave driver. Anyway, Gulliver's Travels was obviously on there as it is a Classic. I never read it in school (so I didn't hate it).

When I went to visit my Mum down in Devon, I found a really old paperback copy in one of the charity shops and told myself that I had to read it as I now had a copy! So I started reading it in April...

I got 100 pages in and stopped, because oh my gosh what is this dude going on about! All he does is tell me measurements! I GET IT! They're small! That was Part 1.

I'd been watching Chboskyy on Youtube (you should go check her out, she's cool). Anyway, she was reading War and Peace as read-a-long and they were doing it by reading 6 chapters per day. Well this gave me an idea, since I wasn't getting anywhere fast, I told myself I will read 50 pages per day. Doable right? No. I managed this on 1 day! I kid you not I had to spend all weekend trying to read this. But that actually worked out well, because I actually enjoyed the story once I'd become immersed in the world.

The Actual Book

Gulliver's Travels, is split into 4 parts. Each part contains an adventure where Gulliver ends up stumbling into some new part of the world no one has discovered yet. 

Personally I felt that each part got more and more insane. With every adventure, Gulliver gets more and more intolerant of the human race. Which I enjoyed. 

This book was published in 1726. That's 291 years ago! What I'm trying to say is, I think I may have missed a few things that Swift was trying to get across. I absolutely wouldn't have understood 90% of this story without the appendix at the back. 

What does come across for me is Swift's intelligence. He was clearly very politically minded and very aware of what was going on at the time. He regularly makes reference to various trails and academic studies. And he had very strong opinions on them all. All of this is portrayed through Gulliver's character.

I definitely get the feeling that the entire work is a sarcastic answer to what he wanted to say to the world. The letters at the beginning of the story bring across a certain mockery of travel writings.  

Personally for me, I wasn't a massive fan of Gulliver as a character. He seemed a bit too much of a goody-two-shoes and it felt like he was regularly fishing for compliments. This definitely came across at the end of the story when he wont even allow his family to be in the same room as him, because of his new found superiority complex. Yes, I know he's been through quite an ordeal, but after everything his poor family has been through (they probably thought he was dead at some point during all 4 parts). And maybe this is part of the mockery of travelers of the time coming back from their various trips feeling that they were superior, but I just didn't like the guy OK?

I did however enjoy the book. I think that I struggled a bit more, due to the fact that my version is so old. I could have used a few extra explanations. (Sometimes the appendix needed an appendix!) I also found myself wanting to Google some of the trials he was making reference to. But overall I really liked the idea of these crazy places around the world that no one had yet discovered. I also enjoyed the fact that Gulliver had to be the most unfortunate Sailor, with the most skill.

It says 70p! I have no idea when my version was published, but it smells amazing!

Mr J Swift himself.

I'd love to know if you've read Gulliver's Travels and what your thoughts on it were? Next I'll be reading Aaru by David Meredith, why not join me?

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