Boekverslag : Jonathan Swift - Gulliver's Travels
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Complete title: Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, by Lemuel Gulliver.
First print 1726
A novel about a doctor/sea captain and his travels to four different nations.
Lemuel Gulliver, unsuccesful as a doctor in London, becomes a ship's doctor on the Antelope. In a sudden storm the ship is wrecked. Gulliver is the sole survivor and manages to reach the coast. He is taken captive by the natives of Lilliput, a small unknown island. They are six inches tall and are greatly impressed by the size of their prisoner. They take him to their capital city, Milendo. They teach him their language and call him great man-mountain.
After some time Gulliver regains his liberty thanks to his friendly manner. He observes the Lilliputians and their society and soon finds thaat they have some curious customs. Political favours at court are won by walking on ahigh rope or creeping under a low rope.
There are two political parties: the High-Heels, wearing high heels on their shoes, and the Low-Heels. Two religious parties, the Big-Endians and the Little-Endians, are engaged in a bitter fight about the best method of breaking eggs. The Big-Endians are supported by Lilliput's enemy, the island of Blefusu.
Gulliver has an enemy at court, Filmnap the Treasurer, who wants to have him killed because he costs too much to feed. Gulliver's friend Reldresal, Secretary for Private Affairs, warns him of actions undertaken by Filmnap.
When Blefusu prepares to invade Lilliput, Gulliver captures their fleet and pulls it from Blefusu to Lilliput. Gulliver is promoted to the highest rank on the island. However, he infuriates the Emeror by pleading for mercy for the beaten enemy. When Gulliver learns he is to be killed he escapes to Blefusu, where he is kindly received. Gulliver longs to go back to England. Fortunately a human-sized boat is washed ashore and Gulliver is able to leave. He is picked up by an English ship and returns home.
After a few months with his wife and children, Gulliver becomes restless and goeas on board the Adventure. The ship is driven off course by a gale (= storm). When Gulliver and some other men go ashore to find suplies, he loses the rest of the party and is picked up by a gigantic farmer who takes him home as a present for his daughter Glumdalclitch. She teaches him their language and tells him he is in Brobdingnag. Her father puts Gulliver in a box and travels round the country, showing him to people for money. Gulliver gets very weak as a result of his long working hours. Fortunately, Gulliver is sold to the Queen qho treats him as a pet. His life is more comfortable now but he most be careful of enormous wasps, cats and dogs who constantely threaten him. The court dwarf is jealous of Gulliver and tosses him in a cream pitcher. Soon Gulliver realizes that the Brobdingnagians are kind-hearted and generous. Their abhor the idea of tyrany and oppresion. Their King is appalled at Gulliver's account of the glories of the English military might. The court ladies do not take him seriously as a man.
After two years of humiliation and danger Gulliver's travelling-box is picked up by a bird and dropped into the sea. He is rescued by an English ship and taken back to England.
Again Gulliver cannot resist the temptation to go on a voyage. This time, his ship is attacked by pirates and he is setadrift in a canoe. He reached the island of Balnibarbi which is ruled from above by the floating island Laputa. The people on Laputa are only interested in music and mathematics, forgetting the practical side of life. In Lagada, the capital of Balnibarbi, Gulliver visits the great Academy of Projections where scientists work on the most foolish projects. They try to extract sunlight from cucumbers and so often marbles for the manufacture of pillows.
On Glubbdubdrib, an island of sorcerers, Gulliver gets the opportunity to speak with famous figures of history. THese conversations convince him that the official accounts of history are untrue and that the human race has degenerated terribly. On the island of Luggnagg Gulliver meets the Struldbrugs, immortal people. He expects them to be wise and happy but instead that they are growing older and weaker and long for death. Gulliver returns to england by way of Japan.
In 1710 Gulliver sets out on his last voyage. After a mutiny he is put in a boat, and lands on an unknown coast. He encounters disgusting human-like creatures called the Yahoos. They are ruled by a raace of noble-minded, intelligent horses, the Houyhnhnms. The horses are completely governed by reason and lead a gentle, civilized lfe. They think Gulliver is a superior kind of Yahoo and he is housed in a stable with a family of Houyhnhnms. The horses are shocked by Gullivers account of life in England. Gulliver himself soon comes to realize that man is evil and vile. He feels perfectly happy among the rational horses.
After a short time, however, it is decided that Gulliver after all is a Yahoo and he is ordered to leave the island. He builds a canoe and sails away. He is picked up by a Portuguese ship where he sits in his cabin, unwilling to mix with human beings. Also when he is back in England he cannot bear the presence of men, not even of his own family, fora long time. He is happiest in the company of horses and often remembers the noble Houyhnhnms.
Mr. Lemuel Gulliver, doctor and sea captain
Inhabitants of the four different nations Gulliver visits.
The book is about the travels made by a man, called Lemuel Gulliver. Therefor the book is called Gulliver's Travels.
Gulliver's Travels is a political allegory. At its surface level the book is a travel story, at it underlying level a satire. For instance, in part 1 English politics, the court and religion are ridiculed. Lilliput and Blefuscu stand for England and France, the Big-Endians and Little-Endians probably for Catholics and Protestants, whereas High-Heels and Low-Heels represent the English Conservatives and Liberals. Part 3 satires the useless efforts made by the scientists of Swift's day. In part 4 mankind in general is attacked.
Construction and Setting
Gulliver's Travels consists of four different stories in which Gulliver is the hero:
1. A Voyage to Lilliput
2. A Voyage to Borbdingnag
3. A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdrib and Japan
4. A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms.
He sets on his first voyage in 1699 and on his last in 1710.
Locations: four fictional foreign nations.
Point Of View
The book is called a satirical adventure storie, in four parts with titles. It is narrated in first person. The book reads in chronological order.
Gulliver's Travels is an investigation into the human mind. By showing people what they were really like, Swift hoped to reform 'the Yahoo race of this kingdom.'
Obviously his scheme did not work but Gulliver's Travels certainly is an excellent piece of imaginative fiction, popular with adults and children alike.
How is the book structured?
It consists of four parts in which are described four different voyages, preceded by a fictional publisher's introduction and a fictional letter from the 'author', Mr Lemuel Gulliver, to the publisher, his cousin.
What does Gulliver say in the letter?
His cousin had promised him that things in England would change on account of his book, but nothing has changed, and Gulliver is highly disappointed.
What effect is intended by these introductions to the actuel stories?
The book tries to make its story appear real because it is discussed by people in the introductions. In the seventeenth century, many books try to pass of as 'accounts of real events' in this way. By these two introductions to his obviously fictional stories, Swift ridicules this habit.
What kind of inhabitants do the different nations that Gulliver visits have?
Gulliver encounters Lilliputs in the first nation, giants in the second, people with strangely bent heads and inverted eyes in the third, and horses and ape-men in the last.
Which institutions and practices are satirized in which story?
In the first story, eighteenth-century English politics are criticized. The second story focuses on statemanship ; the third on scientific arrogance; and in the fourth, man in generaal emerges as presumptuous and ridiculous.
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was born and educated at Dublin.He worked in England as a secretary but later became a clergyman in Ireland. He often went to England where hebecame deeply involved in politics and literature. His greatest work Gulliver's Travels was published anonymously in 1726. Other works written by Swift are The Battle of the Books and A Tale of a Tub, two satires published in 1704, and A Modest Proposal (1729), a satirical defense of the Irish against English rule.
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