Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift

My Copy: 9781566197847 (image from

Well, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, even if it’s that neat semi-transparent slip-cover I like for some reason. I still didn’t care for the story. I only got about halfway through the book and gave up. Not my cup of tea, I guess; I’m used to Swift in smaller doses and it couldn’t keep my attention.

Anyway, if you haven’t read pieces of it before (or haven’t seen one of the dozen or so film adaptations,) Gulliver’s Travels is pretty well explained by the title. A man named Gulliver who wanted to travel and see things was taught to be a doctor and traveled by ship to make money for his family. He had a few uneventful years until he was shipwrecked (at least the first time) and fell onto a tiny island inhabited by the Lilliputians, folk only about half a foot tall at most.

That’s the first “book,” and the only one I managed to (mostly) make it through. I was bored before the end of it. I’m sure other parts had great moments, but I just couldn’t try anymore.

I understand the work is satire and makes fun of some of the customs and dictates of leading figures in power, of other nations, etc, from his time. That doesn’t repulse me any–hell, that’s why Swift is so popular, he’s a satirist for crying out loud. But I think I can only handle him in small doses, his shorter works pack a better punch from what I remember.

I’m not one of those people who firmly believes that Dialogue is Story. And I’m definitely not a believer in the idea that Description is Story. That’s where I think the disconnect lay with me. The book is 98% thoughts and descriptions, very little dialogue anywhere. I expect that more in a non-fiction book, not a fantastic journey book. Dialogue helps break things up a bit, and my eyes start glazing over when I see too many pages of block text running together.

I suppose this would be a bit like a fantastic memoir, in which case recalling conversations verbatim would be pointless, but it just dragged and dragged and dragged for me.

When the footnotes became more interesting to read, because they give some direction as to what Swift was satirizing, then I knew I couldn’t finish the book.

Guess that means I’ll never see a complete film version, or really want to.

Anyway, there were a few amusing scenes in the story. I have to admit, it was interesting to finally have a character go to the bathroom in a book and not wonder how they would do it with little to no privacy (and he does get a tiny bit descriptive in those regards… though the burning castle bit I think everybody knows about as a shocking moment).

Not my cup of tea. Try it on and see if it’s yours!

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