Monday, June 20, 2016

Big and Little of it all: Gulliver's Travels


Gullivers travels.jpg
Gulliver's Travels original title
The 18th century was one of massive changes worldwide, where borders were moved, countries established, and discoveries in sciences abounded. In that period, social boundaries, particularly in England, also became strongly established, dividing rich from poor and poorer.
  
During such upheaval, Rev. Jonathon Swift wrote and published Gulliver's Travels, which satires existing societies, laws, royalty, parliaments, churches, and just about anything else in England.  Gulliver's Travels stirred up great outcry when it was published in England in 1726, of course, by guilty members of the governing body.

Gulliver's Travels is long, with several sections, and requires a strong attention span to retain Swift's views. His view of society effectively slashes and burns, being a master of satire, to the point where he had to write under pseudonyms.

Rev. Swift excelled at writing cleverly painted parallels, pairing Lilliput with England, each mirroring the other. His skill is comparable to that of putting a pin through two termites on an entomology display board and examining them with a magnifying glass. 

Part one is the only one with which I was familiar.  Gulliver is a normal sized Englishman, but appears to be a giant, having been washed up on the island of Lilliput, where Lilliputians are six inches high. This arrival disrupts the nation in so many ways.
Gulliver scares the Lilliputians, severely
  
Gulliver is amused the Emperor and his court, amazed and amused. How members of the court chosen was a source of delight for Gulliver.

One way is to watch "rope dancers" compete by jumping on silk threads. The one who jumps the highest wins, which granting him a high position of solving problems for the Emperor. 

Another is in appointing a treasurer by requiring  competitors to juggle items. Winner is one who can keep the most items juggling in the air, without any falling.


Rules and laws of Lilliput are long, its disputes longer.  But perhaps most interesting of all is a war between Lilliput and Blefuscu, which readers accurately interpreted as the King of England and King of France. One is the "big-endians" and the other "small-endians". 

The Big. E. believe that one should eat a soft-boiled egg from the big end.  The Small E. believe that one should eat the egg from the small end. 

This dispute is very serious and long lived. Thousands of people of both islands had been killed in these wars. This senseless slaughter over eggs is also a veiled comparison to Catholics to Protestants.

This book examines society down to its minutia and is written by a brilliant man. How was it received? By the Governing body or by the common man? Oh boy howdy, it created an uproar in both for different reasons, but no retributions could be made.

Read it instead of watching presidential commercials. The children's version is easier and I shared it with my students. This might put this election, and indeed government, in perspective.

Jonathon Swift.

Perhaps the best movie about Gulliver's Travels is a TV version with Ted Danson.

17 comments:

  1. Or come November, it just might scare us even more...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolutely. Either way, Trump or Clinton, it is scary.

    ReplyDelete
  3. And yet people still refuse to believe it is nonsense and keep fighting over the "eggs"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some hang onto whatever with a death grip, my way or the highway.

      Delete
  4. Sadly Gulliver's Travels is as true today as it was when it was first penned.
    As a species we are slow learners.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm reading Acts in the Bible; just read Isaiah a while back. People were the same then as they were in Acts, as in now. When will we ever learn?

      Delete
  5. My whole life I thought Gulliver's Travels nothing more than a Fairy tale.
    Even after your explanation, I probably won't see it differently, since the comparisons seem to be political and I've just never understood politics or policies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Swift created a entire civilization with government and laws. the people there were comparable to England's people and problems. It was brilliant.

      Delete
    2. Now I have to re-read it.

      Delete
  6. The story intrigued me as a child. I think perhaps it is time to read it again.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Our greatest friend of truth is time and our constant companion is humility. I'd imagine thats what Guliver was thinking when he was tied up like that by the Lilliputians.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Politics are wearing me out. And to keep from being controversial on your blog, I won't give you my opinions of the current state we're in.

    I wish we'd have read Gulliver's Travels in school. How cool that you introduced it to your students. What grade did you teach?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taught grades 2-4 in elementary, and loved every minute. I read the children version in 2nd gr. and we did many integrated projects, which included having our 6' principle lie on paper, trace him, and then estimate how many Lilliputions would reach that height. It was so fun.

      Delete
  9. Seems like all of the long-lived disputes are really over silly little things. Just proves that people can get all up in arms over nothing.

    ReplyDelete

Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!