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Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift | Review, Summary & Facts

Review, Summary, Characters, Analysis, & Facts about Jonathan Swift's Book Gulliver's Travels

Review, Summary, Characters, Analysis, & Facts about Jonathan Swift's Book Gulliver's Travels.

Through the mouth of Captain Limell Gulliver, the book narrates the strange experience of traveling around the four countries. 

But after careful understanding, it reveals the dark reality of British society everywhere and embodies the author's ideal.

Although Gulliver thought that the Lilliputian was nothing like England at first, in fact, the Lilliputian is a portrayal of England. 

Through that seemingly absurd logic, what we see is that the king is only 100% taller than his subjects. 

A fingernail, but arrogantly pretends to be the ruler of the universe with his head above the sky, and decides the fate of the common people with his impermanent mood. 

Officials don't need to have both ability and political integrity, as long as they jump rope high, they can get high officials and generous salaries.

The two parties of Lilliputian are distinguished by the height of the heel, which alludes to the two-party politics of the British Tory Party (the predecessor of the Conservative Party) and the Whig Party (later developed into the Liberal Party); 

While eating eggs Whether to knock from the big head or the small head refers to the nonsensical dispute about church rituals between Catholicism and Protestantism (also known as Puritanism, that is, Calvinism). 

This small dispute actually led to a civil war in the Lilliputian country and even affected neighboring countries. Due to the police system and false accusations in Lilliputian, Gulliver had to flee there.

The people in the adult country surpassed those "villains" in terms of physical strength and reason; the adult country implements an idealized and educated monarchy, the king is wise and upright, and he often cares for his subjects. The law is also the guarantee of freedom and welfare. 

The king criticized the existence of selfishness and fraud, aggressive wars, and legal injustice in Britain, and pointed out that the reason was the despicable selfishness of the human heart.

Scientists in the flying island country are divorced from the people and reality, and engage in far-fetched "scientific research". 

Especially for the residents of the territory, adopt cruel methods: if there is a slight rebellion, the flying island will be over the sky to block the sun, or it will be lowered to its territory above, crushing the inhabitants into powder. What is exposed here is the British colonial rule of Ireland.

Gulliver also went to a country of magicians, where he traced the politics of ancient Rome and compared the British system. 

At this time, his thinking has changed from supporting the monarchy to supporting the republic. However, he only praised the patriarchal society in the "state of nature".

If this view is still a "romantic retrogression", Gulliver's description of Zhima pointed out the corrosion of human beings by civilized society and showed that only people living in a natural state are pure and noble. 

This point of view was later carried forward by Rousseau in France and became the origin of romantic literature.

The residents of the Kingdom are divided into two categories: "Yahoo" who looks like a beast and Zhima who is wise and can talk. "Yahoo" represents human greed and corruption, while Zhima lives in a primitive kind of society. 

It goes without saying that if human beings degenerate, they will be no different from animals, how sad it is!

Swift lived in a time when experimental science, pioneered by Bacon, and classical mechanics, founded by Newton, were on the ascendant. 

Although the Lilliputian Kingdom and the Adult Kingdom in his works are fictitious, their residents are respectively one-twelfth and twelve times the height of normal humans. 

All the buildings and utensils there has the accuracy of mathematical proportions, and the structure of the whole book is well-proportioned and obvious, which all meet the requirements of rational thinking.

Book: Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver's Travels, or Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First, a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships is a 1726 prose satire by the Anglo-Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift, satirizing both human nature and the "travelers' tales" literary subgenre. ---Wikipedia

    • Originally published: October 28, 1726
    • Author: Jonathan Swift
    • Adapted from: Gulliver's Travels
    • Genre: Satire, Fantasy
    • Text: Gulliver's Travels at Wikisource


About the author: Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was the founder of the radical democrats in the British Enlightenment, and the most outstanding political commentator and satirical novelist in England in the eighteenth century. 

His father, an Englishman who had settled in Ireland, had died seven months before his birth. Swift was brought up by her uncle and studied at the prestigious Trinity College Dublin (named after the Catholic "Holy Trinity"). 

At that time, the priesthood of the church was the safest way out for poor children; but Swift hated theology and those tedious philosophy courses and his interest lay in history and literature. 

With a "chartered diploma" that indicated that he could not study further (in fact, he later obtained a master's degree and a doctor's degree), he had no choice but to work as a private secretary at the home of his mother's distant relative Sir Temple.

"Literate servant". Before long, he was showing his talent with insightful and sarcastic writing. 

One of his political theories exposing the government's corruption directly led to the armistice between Britain and France so some people called the peace treaty the "Swift Peace Treaty". 

Although he later became the prime minister's confidant and the drafter of the Queen's speech and became the object of fawning, he still took pride in being poor.

Swift has no official title, and he does not get paid for reviewing manuscripts for newspapers; the bonus given to him by Prime Minister Harry for writing articles was returned by him angrily, declaring that he is not a hired literati. 

The queen and her dignitaries eventually expelled him from London for fear of his popularity and the influence of his satirical articles. 

After he arrived in Dublin, he actively participated in the Irish people's struggle for freedom and independence.

Struggles, successively published highly combative literary theories, so that the British colonial policy had to be restrained. Sweet was deeply loved by the Irish people. 

When he was rewarded by the authorities for his anonymous works, people protected him; when he returned from his last visit to the UK, people rang the bell and raised fire, surrounded him with a guard of honor, and returned to his apartment. 

Swift's evening scene was bleak, his relatives died, and he was dizzy and deaf. Whenever he was sober, he still wrote until he died at the age of seventy-eight.

Among Swift's handed-down works, "Gulliver's Travels" (Gulliver's Travels, 1726) is the most widely circulated and most loved by readers from all over the world.

Book Summary: Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

It is the first time that I have finished reading the novel "Gulliver's Travels" so completely. The previous image is always fixed in the cute and interesting story of Lilliputian in the cartoon "Gulliver's Travels" that I saw on Children's Day in elementary school. 

The author is called Tarzan there, the king of the Lilliputian talks to him in the palm of his hand, his feat of wading across the sea and pulling an entire enemy fleet with a hook.

In the novel, there are more strange countries and small islands, such as the country of giants, the flying island of Laputa (floating island), Balbania (the country surrendered to the flying island), the magical island of the soul, Japan Island, Huiyin Island (the horse is the most advanced rational ruler), magnificent and peculiar imagination, which makes people easily think of the adventures of Starbad in "Arabian Nights". 

The gold panning and adventures in the age of great voyages are fascinating and exciting, and all kinds of grotesque and absurd countries turn out to have origins, realistic significance, and complex human nature.

The novel sharply satirizes the greedy nature of the British government and human beings, the unwarranted war killings, and the vulgarity of pseudoscience.

Lilliputia: Britain in miniature, the government gets office by jumping on a rope, high heels vs low heels, the long war between Lilliputians and Brevescue (France) is due to eating boiled eggs The way (broken big-endian or little-endian).

Kingdom of Adults: The docile giants formed a self-sufficient, closed environment, with no intention of competing with others, and a peninsular country. 

The author became a child's doll and his master's money-making tool. Later, the author entered the palace to please the king and queen. 

The author's conversation with the King of Giants introduces the British government structure - the House of Lords, the House of Commons, courts and lawyers, finance and economy, a powerful army and navy, and historical events in the past 100 years. 

The king refuted them one by one, asserting that the series of historical events in Britain were nothing more than a series of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, and purges, and the worst results were greed, factional struggles, etc. 

The giant country is a closed and closed country that only pays attention to ethics, history, poetry, and mathematics. It is narrow-minded and short-sighted. The threat of internal rebellion. 

Similar to China's "giant country", it is a feudal and autocratic country enclosed by mountains, deserts, and seas, surrounded by small countries and overseas barbarians. 

It wasn't until the Opium War was knocked on the country's door that it was like waking up from a dream.

Journey to Laputa: There is a group of kings and courtiers who think about mathematics and music all day long on the flying island. 

They are indifferent to everything else, including their wives and children. Everyday thinking is a useless pseudoscience. 

The rule of the city it belongs to, rely on the flying island that can be freely controlled, torturing the residents on the ground to make them submit, pay taxes, and maintain their luxurious life status. 

Lagado College, a group of utopian designers waste money and money, and make meaningless pseudo-scientific inventions: extract sunlight from cucumbers, calcine ice into gunpowder, restore feces to food, use pigs to cultivate the land, and judge loyalty based on the color of feces ( It is somewhat similar to using "how is the stool?" to inquire about symptoms and cure diseases) and other weird things. 

The school teaches students that propositions and calculations are written on thin shortbread with ink made from a head-cure potion. After the student eats the shortbread, the potion will also go into his brain, which is a cramming education. 

On the magic island of evocation, the author met the most famous wise men, scholars, and historical legends in ancient times, subverting the tradition of history. 

The so-called historical heroes are nothing but ugly people. Despicable deeds to gain high positions. 

The Ragnag, the pain of the immortal, and all the ailments brought upon them by the terrible prospect of immortality, not only stubborn, surly, greedy, withdrawn, conceited, and talkative, but also impersonal and friendly, they became For those who are abandoned, not wanting to live forever is indeed endless pain.

Huiyin Island: The horse has become the highest form of the ruler in this country, a model of rationality and morality, reflecting the brutal and ugly Yehu here (lower creatures here, similar to humans), through the description of Yehu, The author scolds the greedy and selfish nature of human beings. 

Although Huiyin is noble and selfless like saints, their lives are quite boring without desires and needs. There is no country with words, and they think they are moral gentlemen, but they still have masters and servants?

Although I don't know the history, political and economic system of Britain, through the author's interesting whimsy, I can get a general understanding of it. It is a satirical classic with super imagination and realism.

Book Reviews of Gulliver's Travels

The eighteenth century is called the Century of Enlightenment by historians. It was not long after the advent of the Newtonian mechanic system that human knowledge made breakthroughs, and the entire Europe was filled with the unique optimism of that era. 

Human beings have already claimed to have mastered the key to understanding the mysteries of the universe. 

With the development of knowledge, people are confident that it is only a matter of time before they gain dominion over nature, and the well-being of human beings will be infinitely improved in a bright future. 

It was also in this era that historians declared for the first time in history that history develops linearly in a tone that now seems quite naive. Bacon's ideal of utilitarian science, Newton's mathematical physics, Locke's political thought, and Voltaire's candid and naive optimism, these are the enlightenment stars shining on Europe in the eighteenth century. 

If there is one word that can be used to label this century in history, it is rationality. Yes, this is the era of rational awakening. 

The classical rationality of ancient Greece fell asleep for more than a thousand years under the oppression of medieval Christian beliefs and finally stood on the horizon of the times, but without the prudence and restraint of the classical era, from it In the shades of gray, we can vaguely foresee the heavy nightmare of the twentieth century. 

Not everyone had such a premonition at the time. Swift, a prophet of the Enlightenment Age, watched the modern rational trend with a cold eye and was the first to question Enlightenment planning.  

  Swift's (1667-1745) fantasy and satirical novel "Gulliver's Travels" described the customs and customs of four countries, including the Lilliputian, the Adult, the Leputa Island, and the Huihui, in the style of travel notes popular at that time. 

In his works, he reflected on the political and social conditions in Europe at that time and described his ideal kingdom in the form of a Utopia. 

The Lilliputian alludes to the corrupt and petty political scene in Britain and continental Europe at that time, where the people there were small in number, greedy, and selfish, and their virtues were just in proportion to their body size. 

On the contrary, the people in Daren's Kingdom are simple, comfortable, and self-sufficient giants. 

They are noble and upright, just like the ancient citizens of the ancient Greek city-state that Swift admired. 

There is a flying island on the island of Leputa, which is suspended in the air by means of a magnetic device. It is inhabited by a group of kings and courtiers who think about mathematics and music all day long. 

They are indifferent to everything else, including their wives and children. Swift used it to satirize the Royal Society at the time. The cruel oppression of the rulers on the flying island by the people below the flying island clearly reflects Swift's foreboding of the totalitarian rule that science may bring. 

In the Hui Hui Kingdom, the ruling order of people and horses was reversed, people became lowly animals, and horses became noble masters. Here, Swift despairs the moral condition of humanity.  

In this book, Swift takes the form of a utopian fantasy novel, but it is very different from similar novels that were popular at the time. 

If we trace the genealogy of modern utopias, we can find that they were all utopias or positive utopias at first, from "Utopia", and "Sun City" to "Christchurch", without exception. Bacon's "The New Atlantis" is undoubtedly also within this pedigree. 

Its special feature is that it connects the prospect of utopia with the progress of science and creates a scientific utopia. 

It wasn't until the twentieth century when unprecedented humanitarian disasters shattered people's illusions about progress, that utopias of the opposite sense began to emerge. 

"Brave New World", "1984" and "Us" all belong to this. The significance of Swift is that, as early as the rise of utopian fantasy, his works have synthesized the double fantasy of positive utopia and dystopia. 

The Lilliputian and Leputa Islands can be classified as dystopias, while the Adults and Hui Huiguo can be regarded as positive utopias. The whole book of "Gulliver's Travels" has a structure of "reverse-front-reverse-front". 

The anti-utopia and positive utopia are intertwined, which not only deeply worries about the future of enlightenment, but also hopes for a better life. However, if we analyze it more carefully, we will find that even his positive utopia is quite different from the prevailing customs at that time. 

Almost all utopian visionaries pointed their ideals to the future or to a foreign land—a time or space that people in the northwest corner of Eurasia had never experienced. Swift, against the trend, turned his attention to ancient times. Yes, in his foreign travels in the Kingdom of Adults and the Kingdom of Hui Yi, we can easily recognize the nobility and elegance of the classical age. 

Therefore, Swift's utopia is not a fantasy, let alone a rational and arrogant design. On the contrary, it yearns for ancient times and admires the classics, criticizes the times with memory, and puts his ideals and reflections into a strange utopia. 

There is a golden age that once existed but no longer exists, so it can be classified as a genealogy of positive utopia. 

Similarly, there is also a terrible world that is gradually emerging or people intend to realize, and it is all the more absurd and in contrast to the former. Ugly, so it also falls into the dystopian spectrum. 

It is his admiration for ancient times that make the utopia he created present the intertwining and conflicting positive and negative sides.  

  This conflict is also the conflict between ancient and modern politics and philosophy. Swift turned a cold shoulder to the Enlightenment, which was just emerging at that time. 

On all the issues of ancient and modern disputes, Swift did not hesitate to side with the ancients. The Enlightenment intended to replace custom with science, superstition with reason, and ignorance with progress. 

According to Kant's classic definition, Enlightenment is the process of human beings getting rid of their own immaturity and moving toward maturity. The so-called maturity means having the courage to use their own reason freely without the guidance of others. 

The watchword of the Enlightenment was precise, have the courage to use your own reason. Using reason to guide oneself is exactly Kant's view of reason. 

But what Kant expresses is a kind of self-confirming reason, a kind of inner moral law, and we should not ignore the brilliant starry sky above our heads corresponding to it. 

The subject of enlightenment is not only content to legislate for nature, it also intends to conquer nature with the power of reason. Bacon's famous saying "knowledge is power" is the original expression of this utilitarian ideal. 

In his "New Atlantis," Bacon imagined a scientific utopia. A group of scientists from Solomon's Palace has a clear division of labor and manages the entire country in an orderly manner. They combine knowledge and virtue, are highly respected and authoritative, and under their rule, the entire country is harmonious, orderly, prosperous, and healthy. 

For the first time in history, Bacon based politics on science rather than on the virtues of citizens and rulers. This is partly because Bacon is obsessed with the utilitarian effects of science, and partly because he believes that science can promote moral education. 

In these two points, Swift is exactly opposite to Bacon and even all the advocates of the Enlightenment.  

  In "Gulliver's Travels", Swift responds to Bacon's New Atlantis with the island of Le Pita, the Lagadore Academy of Sciences to Solomon's Palace, and the utopia of anti-science to the utopia of science. 

The scientists and rulers on Leputa Island are obsessed with abstract science all day long, ignoring the customs and life of the world, they are clumsy in action and need human guidance in everything. 

The servant should remind the dialogue that the wife cheating on someone face to face is ridiculous and ignorant. Such people are destined to be scientific madmen who only look up and observe the orbits of planets. 

They lack the sense of reality that politicians must have. More importantly, such a group of experts has no virtue at all, even if they cannot be called morally corrupt. 

Therefore, on the question of knowledge and virtue, Swift is an antithesis of Bacon. Not only that, but Swift also constitutes an antithesis to Bacon in terms of the relationship between knowledge and society. 

Bacon believed that scientific knowledge, as a kind of gospel, would bring happiness to human civilization. 

But in this book, Swift insists on the terrifying picture of scientific rule. The flying island on Leputa Island is suspended above the island and can adjust its height and position according to Gilbert's emerging physics principles. 

If one side of the people resists its rule, then their homeland will be crushed into ruins by the flying island in an instant. 

The difference between modern tyranny and ancient tyranny is that modern tyranny is based on rationality and science rather than ignorance and fanaticism. 

Swift is particularly wary of the political domination of scientists. He believes that there is a natural boundary between science and politics, and using science to guide politics will inevitably lead to political disorder.  

  These two themes about science initiated by Swift have been continuously echoed and deepened in later generations. 

On the issue of science and virtue, Rousseau was the first to respond in his "On Science and Art". 

He believed that science and art, as universal and super-regional things, would inevitably destroy the moral foundation of civil society. 

Later, Kant opened up an immanent space for moral practice through the division of the phenomenal world and the thing-in-itself, pure reason and practical reason, objectively saving reason and science from moral accusations against them temporarily. 

But Horkheimer and Adorno finally criticized this plan in "Dialectics of Enlightenment", arguing that this attempt to base morality on inner goodwill is invalid, and morality will ultimately be based on material interests. 

Turned into barbarism in the face of calculation. On the issue of science and society, the concern that science leads to totalitarianism is also expressed in the book "Dialectics of Enlightenment". 

Myth is already enlightenment; enlightenment regresses into myth. This is the dialectics of enlightenment, which reveals to us how calculation-based instrumental rationality can alienate and enslave people themselves. 

The biggest myth today is none other than science and technology aimed at dispelling myths.  

  The original intention of enlightenment is to free people from the domination of blind forces, but science and technology that cross the border have become the blindest forces today. 

If we are to restate the Enlightenment, we must rethink science and technology itself. Taming science and technology is the most important task of this era. 

Whether or not this task is possible, we need a utopia of hope in our pessimistic coping, to free us from despair and draw from it the courage to act. 

It is precisely this attitude that Swift's double-faced utopia embodies, which is what makes him so important, and what sets him apart from some of the so-called postmodern masters. 

Conclusion: Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Swift wants to complain about the feeling of magical sketches written by society. 

The advantage of English literature is that there are so many details about life, so it is quite enjoyable to read, even if this kind of nonsense has what Gulliver eats and wears in every small country he goes to The description of the clothes is very down-to-earth; 

I really like the part about the immortal man, and the immortality really feels like a curse rather than a blessing, so a way to reconcile death is to say that death can be regarded as exempting oneself from eternal life; 

The Country of Horses That paragraph is also very interesting, completely rational rule, I feel that it is really a utopia; 

I feel that the significance and interest of the times are greater than the depth and literature, but it is indeed a masterpiece, and the writing is really good, so ironic.

Muhiuddin Alam is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of He serves as a consistent contributor to various websites and publications, including Medium, Quora, Reddit, Linkedin, Substack, Vocal, Flipboard, and Amazon KDP. Alam personally read numerous books and, for the past 10 years, has been providing book recommendations and reviews. Find Me: About Me & Google Knowledge Panel.

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