Saturday, December 12, 2015

Gulliver's Travels

I am not a big movie fan, but a few years ago, the comedy actor Jack Black did a movie based on the classic novel Gulliver’s Travels.  I don’t much care for movies, so I know even less about actors.  What I did know was that Jack Black made a movie about being a Mexican professional wrestler.  It looked massively dumb, and I never saw it.  Black’s modernized take on the classic novel didn’t look much better, and I avoided it, too.  I hadn’t ever read the book, but, as everyone knows, the book is better than the movie.

Book cover. Gulliver’s Travels (ISBN: 0-14-143949-1) by Jonathan Swift is an interesting novel that was originally published as political satire.  Now far removed from the contentious political scene of XVIII-century Great Britain, it has withstood the test of time and continues to be popular.  This is mostly thanks to the first part of the book, where the book’s hero, Lemuel Gulliver, visits Lilliput, home to a humanoid race only inches tall.  Gulliver has a number of adventures in this part of the world, including participating in a battle and putting out fires, which saves the island’s royalty.  He also ends up being trapped in some distant land where the inhabitants are giants, which also provides for some adventure, but mostly being carried around in a box by a girl.  Gulliver’s third voyage features a few different islands and a people who have figured out how to live on a machine that perpetually floats in the sky, landing only if the inhabitants are trying to crush the people on the ground below.  Finally, Gulliver finds himself in a land where the ruling inhabitants are horses.  The most inferior race in this quarter of the world are essentially humans, but in a wild and feral form.  In each place, Gulliver is exposed to differing methods of government and people.  He seems to learn from each, although always very patriotic when it comes to his homeland.  Finally, after his visit to the land of the horse beings, he is disgusted with mankind, claiming it to not think and to be disgusting and wild in nature.

I, like most modern readers, did not get much of the political satire in the book.  I would probably agree with many others that the Lilliput episode was the highlight as far as adventures went.  The other sections were significantly drier, although they still had their interesting points.  I noticed that by the end, although likely starting in the third episode, I was more attuned to the commentary on the behavior of people.  One of the points that Swift made multiple times in the book is that people spend a lot of time in conflict with one another because we choose to magnify little differences.  He also thought people succumb to thinking the grass is always greener on the other side, especially when it comes to the pursuit of scientific and technological advancement.  Finally, Swift, as I read him, was a big proponent of honesty.  If people would be honest in their dealings and in what they say, the likelihood of our never-ending conflicts decreases to a large degree.  The combination of the story of travel and adventure with commentary was interesting, although I think it tended to detract from the book a little, making it too slow in places.  I thought it was a decent book, but probably not one that I would pick up and read again just for the fun of it.

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1 comment:

Emilio Fernandez said...

Good morning, how are you?

My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because through them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately, it is impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are very small countries with very few population, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

For all this, I would ask you one small favor:
Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Bosnia and Herzegovina? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

Emilio Fernandez Esteban
Calle Valencia, 39
28903 Getafe (Madrid)
Spain

If you wish, you can visit my blog www.cartasenmibuzon.blogspot.com where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

Finally, I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

Yours Sincerely

Emilio Fernandez