Gulliver at Laputa…”Kingdom of Music and Maths”

“I wonder what fool it was that first invented kissing”. Jonathan Swift

“Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, better known simply as Gulliver’s Travels”

Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) was an Irish writer and satirist. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, although he is also well known for his poetry and essays

“Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own”. JS – The Battle of the Books, preface (1704)

“Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of a style”. JS – Letter to a Young Clergyman (January 9, 1720)

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”. JS

Gulliver’s Travels

Is a satire on human nature and a parody of the “travellers’ tales” literary sub-genre. It is Swift’s best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature.

Gulliver’s Travels has been the recipient of several designations: from Menippean satire to a children’s story, from proto-Science Fiction to a forerunner of the modern novel.

A possible reason for the book’s classic status is that it can be seen as many things to many different people. Broadly, the book has three themes:

A satirical view of the state of European government, and of petty differences between religions

An inquiry into whether men are inherently corrupt or whether they become corrupted
A restatement of the older “ancients versus moderns” controversy previously addressed by Swift in The Battle of the Books

The causes of Gulliver’s misadventures become more malignant as time goes on—he is first shipwrecked, then abandoned, then attacked by strangers, then attacked by his own crew.

Part I: A Voyage to Lilliput

During his first voyage, Gulliver is washed ashore after a shipwreck and finds himself a prisoner of a race of tiny people, less than 6 inches tall, who are inhabitants of the island country of Lilliput.

Part II: A Voyage to Brobdingnag

When the sailing ship Adventure is blown off course by storms and forced to put into land for want of fresh water, Gulliver is abandoned by his companions and found by a farmer who is 72 feet (22 m) tall. He brings Gulliver home and his daughter cares for Gulliver. The farmer treats him as a curiosity and exhibits him for money.

Part III: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others”. JS

After Gulliver’s ship was attacked by pirates, he is marooned close to a desolate rocky island near India. Fortunately, he is rescued by the flying island of Laputa, a kingdom devoted to the arts of music and mathematics but unable to use them for practical ends.

Part IV: A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms

Poor Nations are hungry, and rich Nations are proud, and Pride and Hunger will ever be at Variance”.



Despite his earlier intention of remaining at home, Gulliver returns to the sea as the captain of a merchantman as he is bored with his employment as a surgeon. On this voyage he is forced to find new additions to his crew, whom he believes to have turned the rest of the crew against him. His crew then mutiny, and after keeping him contained for some time resolve to leave him on the first piece of land they come across and continue as pirates. He is abandoned in a landing boat and comes upon a race of hideous, deformed and savage humanoid creatures to which he conceives a violent antipathy. Shortly afterwards he meets a race of horses who call themselves Houyhnhnms (which in their language means “the perfection of nature”); they are the rulers, while the deformed creatures called Yahoos are human beings in their base form.

“I told him…that we ate when we were not hungry, and drank without the provocation of thirst”. Voyage to Houyhnhnms, Ch. 6

John Gay wrote in a 1726 letter to Swift that “It is universally read, from the cabinet council to the nursery.”

Gulliver’s gone to the final command of his master
His watery eyes had washed all the hills with his laughter
And the seasons can change all the light from the grey to the dim
But the light in his eyes will see no more bright
As the sheep that he locked in the pen

There’s four feet of ground in front of the barn
That’s sun baked and rain soaked and part of the farm
But now it lies empty so cold and so bare
Gulliver’s gone but his memory lies there

By passing the doors of his life was a stage I remember
And in later years he would cease to bare teeth to a stranger
For sentiment touched him as Cyclamen holds him
And later men came from the town
Who said clear the child this won’t take a while
And Gulliver’s gone with the dawn

“We have enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another”. JS

“Words are but wind; and learning is nothing but words; ergo, learning is nothing but wind”. JS

“Every man desires to live long, but no man would be old”. JS

3 thoughts on “Gulliver at Laputa…”Kingdom of Music and Maths”

  1. Pingback: #DailyBookQuote 1Apr13 : Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels | Whatever It's Worth...

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