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Gulliver's Travels: Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World.
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Gulliver's Travels - M.R. 2013 > Discussion - Week Two - Gulliver's Travels - Part II

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Part II: A Voyage to Brobdingnag, p. 77 – 139


After a brief visit with the wife and kiddies, Lemuel again heads for the high seas. A strange wind blows his ship far to the north-northeast, and while searching for water on a deserted coast, his shipmates leave him behind. Not long afterwards, he is found to be the smallest animal in this strange land. Welcome to Brobdingnag, where Gulliver discovers that size is relative, and relatively important!

In Chapter VI, by using the King of Brobdingnag’s questioning of Gulliver, Swift gives a lengthy critique of England and its institutions – ouch! In Chapter VII, he apologizes for “the king”, but the arrow has already found its target. In ways similar to Apuleius in ‘The Golden Ass’ and Rabelais in ‘Gargantua and Pantagruel’, Swift uses the cover of magic realist fiction to take shots at his leaders and countrymen.


message 2: by Zadignose (last edited Mar 11, 2013 08:18PM) (new)

Zadignose | 444 comments A few things I remember being very entertained by in reading this:

-Lemuel is such a terrible family man. While he may long for home whenever he's cast away in strange lands, when he actually gets home he shows no interest whatsoever in wife and family, and is off again into more foolish adventures.

-The narrator's frequent apologies for how his tale is so boring and commonplace because he is constrained to write nothing but the truth provide a very laughable element of parody, regarding "true" fantastic tales.

-The clash between Lemuel's genuine enthusiasm for the power of gunpowder, and the Brobdignagian horror at such a description was also quite pointed and interesting.

-I don't know to what degree we should credit the obvious (?) metaphor of Lilliputians as inferiors to the English, and Brobignagians as superiors... or, from another angle, the Lilliputians as a microcosmic metaphor for the worst qualities of English and European culture, and the Brobignagians as the more ideal form we could aspire to. The worst and the best of the human spirit and character, perhaps.

It complicates things, of course, when the main character himself, and his narration, are largely farcical, so there is no sincere author's voice within the work. He may prod us or even bludgeon us into reacting in certain ways, but he never actually speaks to us.


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