Nicholas Armstrong's Reviews > Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
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's review
Dec 28, 2011

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Read in September, 2011

I think as a satirist Swift is a genius. I'm not sure I've read someone that is as clever in writing as Swift is. His metaphors are biting and truthful and his voice is consistent. That said, he isn't a novelist. He is a satirist and at best an essayist. He writes to influence ideas; he does not write to craft worlds and bring life.

Too much of the text is taken up with details that flesh out the similarities between that world and this, to drive a point home of his message, but the characters are never understood and never go beyond two-dimensional simulacrums of life. Being that I was studying the England of which Swift was critiquing, a lot of the jabs made sense to me and some of it was pretty amusing. Without a knowledge of that time, the conflicts, the parties involved, and numerous other details, the story falls very flat. It can only be read in a certain context, and it is more a historical satire than it is a novel with voice, pacing, characterization.

Still, it can be entertaining, and I understand why people who understand that era find it so enjoyable.
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