Tags: jonathan swift


Or: Travels to Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts, by Lemuel Gulliver.

So my English Lit class is over, and what's the first thing I do? Decide it's time to finally read Gulliver's Travels.

It was actually far more entertaining than I had expected. Swift's style is very prosaic and straightforward, which is probably why every time I've tried to read the book in the past, I was bored within the first couple of pages. But having gotten accustomed to his dry sarcasm from the excerpts in my Lit textbook, I was ready to give him another try. He's... quite a character, that Swift.

Mainly, I find myself astonished at how I can have ever imagined 1700 was a long time ago. I mean, I never thought 1800 seemed all that far in the past, but 1700 was another matter. The wigs and stockings had me confused, I guess. Diderot and Voltaire set me straight about the later part of the century, but I was still a bit wary of Swift. I see now that I was being an idiot. Gulliver's Travels begins in 1699, and is scarcely any less relevant now than it was three hundred years ago.

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What's really funny is that the whole book reminded me, more than anything, of Star Trek. Okay, I know, I know. But in an age when the idea of interstellar travel was beyond any reasonable conjecture, Gulliver was nevertheless making the same kind of journeys the Enterprise makes, to strange new worlds where no man has gone before; and in most cases, the beings he discovers there are even less like his own people than the aliens on Star Trek are like earthlings. And, most importantly, in every case, by observing the behaviors and cultures of other creatures, he learns something about humanity, for better or worse. Only I'm afraid Swift was much less optimistic, and much less forgiving, than Roddenberry was.

Anyway. I should stop, because I have to go buy another computer monitor, since the one in my room has died again. God, I'd almost forgotten how preposterously long my posts get when I don't have a zillion more urgent things to be doing. You can all see how profitably I spend my free time. Whee.