Title: Gulliver’s Travels
Author: Jonathan Swift
Summary: From the preeminent prose satirist in the English language, a great classic recounting the 4 remarkable journeys of ship’s surgeon Lemuel Gulliver.
Review: When my British Literature teacher told us we were going to read this, I was really excited. I’m a huge fan of A Modest Proposal and I was expecting to love another satirical masterpiece, courtesy of Swift. But, much like HG Wells’ War of the Worlds, this style just…isn’t for me. Five pages in and I wanted to throw the book across the room–I found myself wanting to do anything but read. This week, while I had to finish it, I was home from school because I had a flare up with my back. And I literally found more entertainment in staring motionlessly at my ceiling than reading. And those were really the only two options I had of things to do.
This isn’t a story–it’s a “travel log”, and it’s very similar to HG Wells in that it focuses on scientific stuff–lots of measurements, and math, and how things work. That just doesn’t interest me–tell me about your experience, not every insignificant detail about the culture, language, and politics of the place. Also, I’m a very dense reader. I don’t pick up on subtleties very well, and while that isn’t Swift’s fault, I found reading this incredibly boring because I didn’t think it was funny. There were a couple scenes where I was able to appreciate the satire, but most of it was satirizing British politicians and style of government at the time–little of which I could relate to, even when I did know what was going on. I was just very disinterested, and I’m glad that it’s finally over.
What I Liked: Spoilers!
- I did enjoy the passages regarding the Grand Academy, a place where lots of time and money is devoted to scientific experimentation. Fortunately, the irony of the ridiculous experiments was not lost on me (unlike almost everything else in this book), and I was able to actually laugh.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Hopefully, this review will be fairly short, as there was just one basic thing that I didn’t like. That is, the writing was extremely boring. Random capitalizations, intense focus on mathematics and science, and while I understand the satire on extensive travel logs, I found myself rolling my eyes and groaning at the little, “But I won’t bore the Reader,” comments instead of laughing at the irony. I was extremely bored, and the “flowery” language that I’ve come to love of classics was definitely present–but not focused on imagery, and setting, and characters, and passion, but rather on how things work and what it looks like. And the worst irony is that usually, after the end of a long passage on what something looks like and how it functions, I was even more lost in how to picture it than if Swift had just said something simple. It was nearly impossible to get through, and if I could have Sparknoted the whole thing and wrote a review on that without feeling guilty, I totally would have.
- I learned far more about women’s breasts, and the anuses of human beings and various animals in this book than I ever cared to know.
Overall: Short, sweet, and to the point. This book just wasn’t my cup of tea, and while I won’t argue that Swift if a magnificent writer (when he’s talking about something interesting, he really is), Gulliver’s Travels and I just didn’t get along. However, I shall reward myself with watching some dumb, hopefully with Jack Black, silly movie version of this just to cleanse my mind of the book. If you were a fan of War of the Worlds or certain short stories from Edgar Allan Poe, then you’ll probably enjoy this. If you’re looking for an actual story, move along.