A wickedly clever satire uses comic inversions to offer telling insights into the nature of man and society
Gulliver's Travels describes the four voyages of Lemuel Gulliver, a ship's surgeon. In Lilliput he discovers a world in miniature; towering over the people and their city, he is able to view their society from the viewpoint of a god. However, in Brobdingnag, a land of giants, tiny Gulliver himself comes under observation, exhibited as a curiosity at markets and fairs. In Laputa, a flying island, he encounters a society of speculators and projectors who have lost all grip on everyday reality; while they plan and calculate, their country lies in ruins. Gulliver's final voyage takes him to the land of the Houyhnhnms, gentle horses whom he quickly comes to admire - in contrast to the Yahoos, filthy bestial creatures who bear a disturbing resemblance to humans. This text, based on the first edition of 1726, reproduces all the original illustrations and includes an introduction by Robert Demaria, Jr, which discusses the ways Gulliver's Travels has been interpreted since its first publication. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was born in Dublin.
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Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin on 30 November 1667, some months after his father's death. He was sent to Kilkenny Grammar School when he was six and later attended Trinity College, Dublin, where he received his BA degree in 1686. He is considered the foremost prose satirist in the English language, which stemmed from his criticism of Britain's repressive colonial policies in Ireland. Among Swift's best known works is his ironic masterpiece, 'A Modest Proposal' (1729), and his novel, Gulliver's Travels (1726). Swift died on 19 October 1745.
Robert DeMaria, Jr. is Henry Noble McCracken Professor of English at Vassar College. He has published widely on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature.