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Gulliver's Travels (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Jonathan Swift
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Jan 2003 Penguin Classics

A wickedly clever satire uses comic inversions to offer telling insights into the nature of man and society, the Penguin Classics edition of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels is edited with an introduction and notes by Robert Demaria, Jr.

Gulliver's Travels describes the four voyages of Lemuel Gulliver, a ship's surgeon. In Lilliput he discovers a world in miniature; towering over the people and their city, he is able to view their society from the viewpoint of a god. However, in Brobdingnag, a land of giants, tiny Gulliver himself comes under observation, exhibited as a curiosity at markets and fairs. In Laputa, a flying island, he encounters a society of speculators and projectors who have lost all grip on everyday reality; while they plan and calculate, their country lies in ruins. Gulliver's final voyage takes him to the land of the Houyhnhnms, gentle horses whom he quickly comes to admire - in contrast to the Yahoos, filthy bestial creatures who bear a disturbing resemblance to humans.

This text, based on the first edition of 1726, reproduces all the original illustrations and includes an introduction by Robert Demaria, Jr, which discusses the ways Gulliver's Travels has been interpreted since its first publication.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was born in Dublin. Sent to Kilkenny Grammar School when he was six, Swift later attended Trinity College, Dublin, where he received his BA degree in 1686. He is considered the foremost prose satirist in the English language, which stemmed from his criticism of Britain's repressive colonial policies in Ireland. Among Swift's best known works is his ironic masterpiece, 'A Modest Proposal' (1729), and his novel, Gulliver's Travels (1726).

If you enjoyed Gulliver's Travels, you might like H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, also available in Penguin Classics.

'A masterwork of irony ... that contains both a dark and bitter meaning and a joyous, extraordinary creativity of imagination'

Malcolm Bradbury


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (30 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439495
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 1.8 x 13.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 237,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

[Coralie Bickford-Smith's] recent work for Penguin Classics is...nothing short of glorious (Anna Cole Co.) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

'Among the six indispensable books in world literature' George Orwell --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I hope you will be ready to own publicly, whenever you shall be called to it, that by your great and frequent Urgency you prevailed on me to publish a very loose and uncorrect Account of my Travels; with Direction to hire some young Gentlemen of either University to put them in Order, and correct the Style, as my Cousin Dampier did by my Advice, in his Book called, A Voyage round the World. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relatively Great 24 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is not a children's book. Swift ensured that Gulliver's account is an easily readable piece of literature, but this is certainly not a book to be read on the surface. The depth of ideas and satire is unmatched by any other author. The first two chapters concentrate on the problems of our political systems and ridicule our customs. Gulliver is cleverly interposed in two worlds of opposites - in one he is a giant, in the next he is a dwarf. Swift uses this fact to show how everything is only relative to what you compare against. The final two chapters take a deep, long swipe at the failings of humanity - going right to the very bones. Again Swift uses the device of comparison and relatity to satirise his targets - the main one being humankind's lack of reason. DO NOT think that you have read this book if you have only watched it on TV, it is so much more than that. Read it if only to hear of the experiment to harvest sunbeams from cucumbers.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless In More Than One Way 5 Jun 2010
By Dave_42
Format:Paperback
Its actual title is "Travels Into Several Remote Nations Of The World" as if by Lemuel Gulliver, but most people know it as "Gulliver's Travels" and the actual author is Jonathan Swift. The book works on numerous levels, it could be viewed as an adventure story for children, an early example of fantasy/science fiction, a general satire of humanity, or a more specific satire of events, society, and politics in which Swift lived. The latter was undoubtedly the way it was taken when first publish ed in 1726 and amended in 1735, but that is the most difficult way for the reader to view the book today. The Penguin Classics edition of "Gulliver's Travels" is of great assistance in helping the reader appreciate that aspect of the book, with a fine introduction by Robert Demaria, Jr., and detailed notes throughout the text to help explain many of the references.

Part I, "A Voyage to Lilliput" is the best known part of the book. This section has often been used in isolation of the other three parts of the book. This is the story where Gulliver is shipwrecked and washed up on a distant shore, only to find himself a captive of the Lilliputians, who are 1/12th the size of Gulliver. Swift is very detailed in discussing the minutia of Gulliver's experience, from how much he has to eat, to how he relieves himself. Swift satirizes the court of King George I, and of course travel books where the authors stretch the truth. Gulliver starts as a captive, becomes a loyal subject, but then is forced by his own morals to refuse the requests of the King of Lilliput which allows his enemies to work against him. As a result, Gulliver is forced to flee and as fortune would have it he makes it back to home.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true classic 1 Jan 2011
By Mole TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Gulliver's Travels" is one of those books that is instantly recognisable by name. Unfortunately, of those relatively few people that have read it, many are only aware of the first section of the book (the visit to Lilliput), and even then they miss the bitingly accurate social commentary that is woven into the tale.

Swift was making some extremely harsh comments about the society in which he lived; and I would suggest that much of his satirical writing could be seen to be as accurate today as it was at the time of Queen Anne. Certainly I suspect that he would recognise a similar corruption in modern politics, the law, medicine and social behaviour that he knew and despised some 3 centuries ago.

The book is fairly easy to read; for best understanding, it would be worth doing so in short bursts and probably by re-reading sections. Some of the satire is easy to miss, such as the concept of the "low" and "high" heel parties, and the man who wears a pair of shoes that have one high and one low heel; he finds it difficult to walk the line between the two political views. In other cases, it is a belligerent statement of contempt, such as the behaviour of the "Yahoos" in the land of the "Houyhnhmm" (pronounced Winnim") and the comparison to human society.

The story could be read as a childrens tale of fantastical adventures and nothing more; but re-reading it later in life can reveal an amusing, albeit harsh reflection of human foibles.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic piece of English satire 12 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Gulliver's Travels is widely regarded as a children's book, when in fact it is a comic and yet strongly political view of English society from many different perspectives. The ludicrous places that Gulliver visits are all based on England, but with just one of 'our' features completely overemphasised, ie our love of science and reason, in order to parody it and to highlight faults in society. I love Gulliver's travels, because it is one of the few so-called 'classics' that are accessible to the modern reader; the fact that children can read it shows how clear Swift's writing is. In fact, it's like a reverse Harry Potter - the grown-up's book that kids love too!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps satire doesn't travel 23 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
It's a good read and probably every bit the masterpiece its reputation claims. The problem with satire, however, is that it doesn't stand alone. Parody, on the other hand, ought to make sense in itself, but obviously more sense if the object of the parody is understood and familiar. Satire only seems to make sense if you know the original.

The section in Lilliput describing the bloke with different sized heels on his shoes, for instance, is very funny, but only when the footnote has provided the context. He is described as having to negotiate a political line between the faction that likes high heels and the other that likes low ones. He makes awkward progress with both groups, since he can barely walk or stand up straight in a pair of shoes made up so he can have a foot in each camp. The reference is beautiful. It refers to High Church and Low Church in the Anglican tradition, and therefore to Whig and Tory, the opposing political parties of the time. To stay sweet with both, certain royals kept a foot in both camps, making their progress as ridiculous as the rough-shod Lilliputian.

In the books three sections, Gulliver is too big, then too small, then everyone is a horse except for the noxious Yahoos, of course. It was still a lot of fun and, probably, hard witting. The trouble, again, was knowing the targets. If today's Yahoos are considered... perhaps Swift might have googled his yahoos if he had been writing today.

One last observation is about well-known classics in general. The most famous scene from Gulliver's Travels, at least the one most depicted, is of Gulliver strapped to the ground by Lilliputian string and twine, while the little blighters run all over him.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I ordered it by mistake and haven't read it
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Brilliant !!!!!!!!!
Published 7 days ago by sempa fi
4.0 out of 5 stars What i do really like of the Oxford World's Classics is that you have...
What i do really like of the Oxford World's Classics is that you have a background, a explanation about what happened at that time. Good for students of literature!
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Published 1 month ago by cornel benedict westfield
3.0 out of 5 stars Sniggering Swift
Something about this book just makes me think that Swift laughed all the way to bank. Somehow, he just patronizes the reader all the way through, knowing it's a joke, knowing that... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dr. K. E. Patrick
2.0 out of 5 stars English Style put our kids off
Disappointed our kids (8 yr old) - as it was bought for a bedtime story, read by us. They couldn't get to the end of the first page, due to the old fashioned style of English. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cheeky Chops
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
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Published 1 month ago by John Cunningham
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is excellent! My favorite part is when Gulliver visits the...
This book is excellent! My favorite part is when Gulliver visits the sensible houyhnhnms. The aspects of human nature that Jonathan Swift observes are relevant now as they were... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Emma
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
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Published 1 month ago by matthew rees
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