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16 December 2009 @ 06:41 pm
Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift

I was informed that my disgust with The Dice Man was unjustified because it is a satire. I've long known Swift to be the pre-eminent satirist - do correct me if I'm mistaken - and have come to the conclusion that satire is based on three main points:

One: obsession with bodily emissions and functions, whether they be sexual or excretory;
Two: implicit permission to say terrible and disgusting things and moreover present them as acceptable;
Three: extreme boredom for the reader.

All Gulliver's journeys of discovery happened by mistake. You think after one time he'd learn his lesson, BUT NO. It would hang so much better if he'd done all his discoveries at once, instead of being repeatedly (un?)lucky.

He spends an awful amount of time describing the length and depth and breadth of things, which I just cannot get into my head or consequently picture at all. I don't really care what he ate or his Gary Stu ability to learn any language in five minutes. Finding out the origin of things like Laputa and the 'musick of the spheres' was mildly interesting, but not interesting enough to read about the travels of an idiot who met no one who was in any way worth the trouble. Except a bunch of horses. Sorry, I don't care how 'virtuous' a non-literate, non-inventing group of weirdo donkeys were, I'm never going to consider them superior to humans. I suppose THAT was the satire?

but their manner of writing is very peculiar: being neither from the left to the right, like the Europeans; nor from the right to the left, like the Arabians; nor from up to down, like the Chinese; nor from down to up, like the Cascagians; but aslant from one corner of the paper to the other, like ladies in England.


For the Lilliputians think nothing can be more unjust, than that people, in subservience to their own appetites, should bring children into the world, and leave the burthen of supporting them on the publick.

Nice to know that there were welfare welchers even back in the 1600s.

Neither are any wars so furious and bloody, or of so long continuance, as those occasioned by difference of opinion, especially if it be in things indifferent.

I rather take this quality to spring from a very common infirmity of human nature, inclining us to be more curious and conceited in matters where we have least concern, and for which we are least adapted either by study or nature.

I suppose these points are quite apt? Particularly the second and Swift writing.

Previously, on Book Glomp 2009:
He Knew He Was Right, Anthony Trollope |The Bostonians, Henry James | ♥ For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway | ♥ For Esme - with Love and Squalor, JD Salinger | The Outsider, Albert Camus | The Princess Diaries: Ten out of Ten, Meg Cabot | The Vicar of Bullhampton, Anthony Trollope | Molesworth, Geoffrey Willans | Villette, Charlotte Bronte | The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James | The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler | Cecilia, Fanny Burney | ♥ The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger | The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark | Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut | ♥ Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann | Siddhartha, Herman Hesse | The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga | The Duke and I, Julia Quinn | Brave New World, Aldous Huxley | North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell | Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee | Catch-22, Joseph Heller | ♥ Bright Shiny Morning, James Frey | Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck | The Demon's Lexicon, Sarah Rees Brennan | ♥ The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton | jPod, Douglas Coupland | 'Are these my basoomas I see before me?', Louise Rennison | Faro's Daughter, Georgette Heyer | Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman | The Accidental Sorcerer, K.E. Mills | ♥ Ethan of Athos, Lois McMaster Bujold | V., Thomas Pynchon | The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway | ♥ The Dragon Keeper, Robin Hobb | Orlando, Virginia Woolf | The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath | Snuff, Chuck Palahniuk | Crush, Richard Siken | Trust Me, I'm a Junior Doctor, Max Pemberton | The Dice Man, Luke Rhinehart | ♥ Call Me By Your Name, Andre Aciman | Young Miles, Lois McMaster Bujold | He's Just Not That Into You, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo | The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand | A Classical Education, Caroline Taggart | The Way We Live Now, Anthony Trollope | Two Cures for Love, Wendy Cope | Unseen Academicals, Terry Prachett | Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand | Diary, Chuck Palahniuk | Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray | ♥ A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth | A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
jehntjehnt on December 16th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
You should read The Swiss Family Robinson. It is better than Gulliver's Travels. Or at least, it is one of my favorites, whereas Gulliver's Travels is not. For some reason GT always reminded me of Pilgrim's Progress (DO NOT READ UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, UNLESS IN THE EXTREMELY UNLIKELY ONE THAT READING IT WILL SAVE YOU FROM DEATH, FOR IT IS A TORTURE SO TORTUROUS I CANNOT EXPLAIN).
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Bands PATD Ryan vneckscoradh on December 17th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
Didn't they make a Hallmark TV show of that? With hot guys? :D? I always mix it up with Robinson Crusoe.

HAHAHA I ACTUALLY STARTED PP AFTER BUYING IT IN THE SAME PLACE (a charity shop). I want to read it simply because rf: Little Women, but I'm well used to literary torture. ;D
JRevalangui on December 16th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
Three: extreme boredom for the reader. --> LOL. So true. Well, actually, about Gulliver's travels, I just read the one about the horses and only because they made me read it for class ( I remember writing "Houninyan" or whatever the things are called in my hand for the exam because the name was totally impossible to remember)

Voltaire's "Candide" is an awesome satyrical novel, though, so I can't quite dismiss the whole genre :p
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Candy lipsscoradh on December 17th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
Those fucking horses can go DIAF for all I care. Ugh. I mean, if he'd chosen cats...

I read that years ago. Didn't realise it was a satire - maybe that's why I liked it!
JRevalangui on December 17th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
hahahha. I love horses, actually, but not for he reasons Swift does, obviously.

Candide is kind of soft for a satire, i guess, or maybe the addition of an utopic philosophy helped soften it. Either way it's not typical of the genre. There were parts of "Orlando" that were very much like "Candide" for me (although I remember you hated "Orlando" and it isn't a satire either)

disordered_messdisordered_mess on December 18th, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)
I've not read anything by Swift aside from A Modest Proposal in high school, and that was hilarious. I wanted to cry not soon after, however, when only three more people in my class out of thirty realized it was a satire.

I weep for humanity. That was supposed to be a college-level class.
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on December 21st, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC)
You mean poor people DON'T eat their babies when they run out of food? Well, I call that shameful economic management.