Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gulliver's Travels - 50 Greatest Books

Gulliver's Travels (by Jonathan Swift) is one of the best and most important books in the world. First published in London, anonymously, in 1726, it was a howling success, passed from hand to hand among the political class and general readers, and immediately translated into French and German. Voltaire thought it was wonderful.

By the 20th century, heavily expurgated and abbreviated, Gulliver's Travels had survived, but chiefly as a story for children. There is a double irony in this. The first is that it is a savage adult satire on hypocrisy, corruption in politics, the insanity of war and the barbarism that underlies so-called civilization. Swift also exploited - uncomfortably, for the reader - his obsessional disgust with the gross animality of human nature.

1 comment:

Kate S. said...

I don't think I've ever read Gulliver's Travels in full. That Globe piece caught my eye as well though. Perhaps it's time for me to attempt it!