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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relatively Great
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...
Published on 24 Aug. 2001

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32 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A word about the edition.
The literary worth of this text is beyond doubt, but this edition isn't suitable for serious reading. An understanding of its contextual allusions and references is necessary to appreciate the satire of 'Gulliver's Travels', but this edition lacks notes.
Published on 25 Dec. 2004 by Mr. W. S. Knowland


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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relatively Great, 24 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
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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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic piece of English satire, 12 Jun. 2001
By A Customer
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Brobdignagian Sophomores; Junior Majors, LaPuta the Whore, 25 Sept. 2014
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Paying Guest (Westport, MA, USA) - See all my reviews
I taught this book, portions of it, for a couple decades in a sophomore survey of "world"/mostly Western lit. (Fine with me, since I only teach languages I can read--Russian, Latin, Fr and Ital, sometimes English. I'd say GT is Swift's second-best book, behind Battle of the Books and a Tale of a Tub ( I think they were published together, but do not recall.) Those are brilliant and learned--two qualities he did his best to suppress as he invented the novel, along with Defoe and Fielding.
Swift is a remarkable writer, the first English radical to master satirical irony that made his radicalism palatable, even delightful. Of course, he's savage on America--" I have heard, from an American of my acquaintance, that the human child, in its first year, is a tasty morsel..." His savage satire on British treatment of Ireland, in A Modest Proposal. Apologies to Dr Swift, for reducing his prose to mine; I am too lazy to reach him down off the shelf now at 1 AM, after a day of splitting beautiful, red-steaked juniper wood for kindling this winter.
GT and I share a long history, since it was the ONLY book required of entering freshman to read the summer before freshman year at the best college in the country, back then: Amherst. When we all arrived on campus, Prof G Armour Craig spoke in Johnson Chapel on how GT was a fair approximation of four years at college: new freshmen like Gulliver on Lilliput feeling swollen with the pride of our HS achievement; sophomores feeling tiny in comparison with all their Brobdignagian competitors, and with what they'd learned freshman year; juniors, choosing a major, entranced with "science," new knowledge they major in--LaPuta, the whore of science; seniors, growing doubtful of human achievement, their fellow yahoos.
Turned out, Armour Craig was my freshman writing teacher, read my daily essays on daily provocative assignments, "Did you ever lie? Tell of a time when you lied." Next day," What were you doing with language when you lied? How was it possible to use words that did not convey meaning?" Etc. For every class, for the whole semester--and the whole year. Craig's colleague, Ted Baird would enter his class the first day in Appleton Hal, ground (literally) floor, and say, pointing at the window, "What's that?" Some hapless freshman, "A window?" TB, "No, it's a door--can't you see I just entered through it?" Then he'd throw his hat in the wastebasket, "What's that?" Student," A Wastebasket." TB, "No, it's a hatrack--can't you see I placed my hat there?"
I also recall brilliant fellow freshmen in freshman comp (and Humanities, where Rolfe Humphries taught my freshman humaniteis class--his own translation of Vergil, at the time used all over the country (a visiting Harvard freshman was amazed a senior prof taught freshman, but at AmColl, they all did--really taught, read our papers. Now they're all "student-centered" --and universally avoid reading student papers.) One fellow freshman fixed the Hubble space Telescope; one became the 12th most published scientist int he world, with 800+ publications.
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32 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A word about the edition., 25 Dec. 2004
By 
The literary worth of this text is beyond doubt, but this edition isn't suitable for serious reading. An understanding of its contextual allusions and references is necessary to appreciate the satire of 'Gulliver's Travels', but this edition lacks notes.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars About the bigness of a Bristol barrel, 18 Nov. 2005
It has been suggested that only one reader in ten thousand can appreciate the full merit of Gulliver’s Travels as it is a satire on forgotten politics. Do not be misled, this is a timeless classic. The absolute relation to the past whether to politics or otherwise is not an essential premise for one’s amusement of this book. The novel operates on many levels and the reader can easily make a rudimentary guess (without but usually with the aid of notes) at the satire. Political history has a reoccurring theme and much of what Swift wrote three hundred years ago resoundingly rings true today. We can plainly identify repeating general patterns and specific examples of events from the last three hundred years which mirror exactly what Swift alluded to -we do of course have the advantage of retrospection to amplify or even reassign the meaning.
The literal reading and interpretation of little people, giants, a flying island and talking horses can be dazzling. No-kidding, great imagination, marvellous observation and juxtapositional brilliance. Highlights are the whole of Part II and references to the ‘Academy’ in Part III (definite ‘laugh out loud’ humour).
Swift makes arguments and counter arguments along with very credible undisputable criticisms of humankind without preaching in a work of genius. There are lessons for us all here, we can take delight in the book and take heart from the value of its reading.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars happy customer, 21 Mar. 2009
By 
Mamoune (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
My daughter bought the book and she was verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry happy to have it, she is crazy about books so....perfect
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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brain-raking model in English literature, 6 Jan. 2004
By 
I am rather disappointed by the book that definitely is a classic. Lilliput is just another image of monarchy, but in no way different from what Swift knew. The criticism comes from the scale of the people who are extremely small. Brogdingnag does not change this approach, only the scale of the people who are extremely big, though in this case there is a direct criticism of the exploitation the « grotesque » Gulliver is the object of. Laputa, Balnibarbi and Luggnagg show a strange floating saucer in a kingdom dominated by unpractical scientists who try to do everything upside down. It is a satire of scientists in general who are so little concerned by the welfare of the community that they can ruin just for the sake of implementing their hypotheses. Glubbdubdrib is funnier because it enables Gulliver to meet all kinds of people from the past and this leads to remarks about philosophers or politicians or generals that show how small and little and even tiny they were. Japan only shows the extreme anti-christian policy that can be reached there and the extreme self-centeredness of the Dutch, which is probably a criticism of the crown in England. But the last voyage to the country of the Houyhnhnms is by far the best because here we reach both a severe criticism of the human race reduced to its animal instincts and behaviors, and a utopian society in which evil does not exist because it cannot even be conceived, because it is totally out of reach for these kind reasoning and reasonable horses. And yet Gulliver is expelled because he is a Yahoo, no matter what, and the natural reason of these dominant horses leads to rejection, after having found in Gulliver's explanations a solution to get rid of the Yahoo by sterilizing them into extinction, just the way men do with horses in European countries, just a little bit more systematically. This leads to the idea that genocide and ethnic cleansing is a natural attitude, an attitude that goes along with natural reason that says that the species standing in the way of reason have to be exterminated. But the book never reaches that level of thinking, since Swift could not know about such policies that will flourish in later centuries, and yet the Irish occupation should lead him to some idea of what such a principle can lead to. Thus at a second level of reading we find a criticism of « natural reason » though it is not fully expressed and developed. After all it is that « natural reason » that led, already in Swift's times, to the genocide of Indians in America : they were not human, they were attributed all kinds of shortcomings like aggressivity, the love of war, the lack of cleanliness, a strong stench, and many other elements of the type. We can even note that beyond the genocide, the sterilisation policy will be implemented, but not on males, rather on females, and this in some US states up to the 1950s and maybe the 1960s. And this policy initiated by the Scandinavians in the early 20th century (and it was to last at least fifty or sixty decades) was to be systematically used against physically or psychologically impaired people. Hitler will follow that model, pushing it one bit further. In a way the book becomes then some vision of the future. This book hence is a prefiguration of many other books on the subject, such as « The time Machine », « Brave New World », « Animal Farm », etc. This book seems to be the archetype of a literary genre in English literature, and of course the archetype of many films dealing with the same subject, particularly extraterrestrials.To conclude I will say that such a book is definitely not for children even if it is often assigned to young children in some schools.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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Gulliver's Travels (Penguin Classics)
Gulliver's Travels (Penguin Classics) by Jonathan Swift (Mass Market Paperback - 30 Aug. 2001)
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