Gulliver's Travels (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Gulliver's Travels (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Considered the greatest satire ever written in English, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels chronicles the fantastic voyages of Lemuel Gulliver, principally to four marvelous realms: Lilliput, where the people are six inches tall; Brobdingnag, a land inhabited by giants; Laputa, a wondrous flying island; and a country where the Houyhnhnms, a race of intelligent horses, are served by savage humanoid creatures called Yahoos.

Beneath the surface of this enchanting fantasy lurks a devastating critique of human malevolence, stupidity, greed, vanity, and short-sightedness. A brilliant combination of adventure, humor, and philosophy, Gulliver’s Travels is one of literature’s most durable masterpieces.

Michael Seidel is Jesse and George Siegel Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He has written widely on eighteenth-century literature. His books include Satiric Inheritance: Rabelais to Sterne (1979), Exile and the Narrative Imagination (1986), and Robinson Crusoe: Island Myths and the Novel (1991).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593080570
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 10/01/2003
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 183,344
Product dimensions: 4.12(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.92(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Michael Seidel’s Introduction to Gulliver’s Travels

When pressed to write up his own account of his travels by the captain who rescued him from Brobdingnag, Lemuel Gulliver says, “I thought we were already overstocked with books of travels: that nothing could now pass which was not extraordinary”. Gulliver has an odd sense of his experiences if he thinks they would pass for anything but extraordinary, and extraordinary they certainly are. Gulliver’s Travels was a phenomenal success upon its publication in October 1726, read as eagerly and voraciously by all classes of English society as Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe had been a few years before, in 1719. The poet and dramatist John Gay wrote Swift about the reception of the Travels in London: “From the highest to the lowest it is universally read, from the cabinet-council to the nursery” (October 28, 1726). Within a year of its publication, editions of Gulliver’s Travels were pirated and translated on the European continent. Its famous episodes and its nomenclature—Lilliputians, Brobdingnagians, Yahoos—are to this day recognized all over the world, from Gulliver theme parks in Japan to the most up-to-date dictionaries of modern slang.

How did Gulliver’s Travels get written and what were Jonathan Swift’s motives in writing it? In the first decade of the eighteenth century, Swift shared certain obsessions with others, namely a group of writers, statesmen, and professionals who called themselves the Scriblerus Club, consisting of the poets Alexander Pope, Thomas Parnell, and John Gay, the Queen’s physician, John Arbuthnot, and the chief minister of state, Robert Harley. Under the general direction of Pope, one of the club’s primary projects was a volume of memoirs written purportedly by the invented character who gave the club its name, Martin Scriblerus, a modern hack-writer or scribbler (the terms were interchangeable) who embodied all the cultural, intellectual, and political vacuities of the early eighteenth century as Pope, Swift, and their friends saw them.

In 1713 Pope assigned Swift the sixteenth chapter of a proposed satiric memoir on Scriblerus’s various journeys, intending to capitalize on the immensely popular genre of travel writing. He encouraged Swift to detail Martin’s travels to four different lands, mapping voyages to distant continents along the sea-lanes of known and unknown worlds: “to the Remains of the Pygmaean Empire,” to “the Land of the Giants,” to the “Kingdom of Philosophers, who govern by the Mathematicks,” and to a land in which “he discovers a Vein of Melancholy proceeding almost to a Disgust of his Species” (Pope, The Memoirs of the Extraordinary Life, Works, and Discoveries of Martinus Scriblerus, p. 165).

Pope must have sensed he had assigned Swift what amounted to a labor of love in parodying the travel literature of the time because, as is often true for satirists, Swift thrilled at making fun of those things that he found appalling. And there is little doubt Swift found appalling the sorry lot of characters Gulliver describes in the Travels as crisscrossing the world: “fellows of desperate fortunes,” some of whom “were undone by lawsuits; others spent all they had in drinking, whoring, and gaming; others fled for treason; many for murder, theft, poisoning, robbery, perjury, forgery, coining false money; for committing rapes or sodomy; for flying from their colours, or deserting to the enemy; and most of them had broken prison”. Memoirs by these sorts and their more sanitized brethren filled Swift’s personal library, which, in lots cataloged at his death, contained more than 600 travel accounts.

When Swift began the assignment given him by Pope, he sketched out some material for what would become the first and third books of the Travels, the Lilliputian and Laputian voyages. But he shelved the rest of the assignment before the end of 1713 at a time when the high-ranking political ministers for whom he worked in England fell out of power. Swift felt it prudent to abscond to Ireland, and although he held the position of Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin—which seemed to him a booby prize for his larger ambitions—he considered himself a virtual exile in Ireland for the rest of his life.

The political situation soured for Swift to an even greater extent in the early 1720s. With his patrons dead, still out of power, or in exile, and with some of his friends under scrutiny for treason, he decided to reprise his notes for the Scriblerus project and convert them into a four-part book. He completed the first and third voyages and supplemented them by composing what is now the fourth voyage to the land of horses, Houyhnhnmland, and then returning to what is now the second voyage, to the land of giants, Brobdingnag. By 1725 he was boasting in letters to Pope that he thought he had something truly splendid on his hands, and he asked his friend to arrange for publication. Pope handled all the necessary details in England. After a decade and a half, Swift made good on his original commitment, though Martinus Scriblerus fell out and Lemuel Gulliver dropped in.

Customer Reviews

Gulliver's Travels 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 939 reviews.
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
Forget the cartoon versions of the Lilliputians and read the original. This collection of adventures from four voyages (Lilliput is only the first voyage.) builds in satire and its cutting edge right through the fourth voyage. Although written in such a different time, the book remains biting in wit and thought provoking. A most read for those interested in custom and culture, power and authority, and politics and economics in a shrinking world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a geat classic story. Yes, some of the satire is lost to us now, but it makes wonderful statements about humanity that are still pertinent today. Truly wonderful!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A work of incredible genius. Every section provides new insight into human folly and idiocy- and whether one is a Houhnymn or a Yahoo, Big -Ender or Little-Ender one must delight at the human capacity to bring the human down to its proper size. The brilliance of Swift is evident everywhere most poignantly perhaps in those creatures who go on living forever while continuing to physically and mentally age- perhaps modern medicine should have read this section. A remarkable work but not especially for those who love mankind and wish to be optimistic about human life.
SFC_Magazine More than 1 year ago
On the eve of a new movie release based on Gulliver's Travels I was asked to review the book being re-released to coincide with the new Jack Black movie. I accepted the challenge fully expecting to receive a modernized, cannibalized carcass of the original work. When the book arrived, I was surprised and delighted to see it's the entire work in its original form. However, now I had a dilemma on my hands: What does one say about a true classic masterwork that has survived for centuries? As I began re-reading the book I hadn't read in better than thirty years, I was still in a quandary as to what this usually less than humble reviewer could say about a brilliant masterwork that hadn't been said hundreds of times before. The fact is, I can't improve on what was said before, but I could remind people of the enjoyment such a book can bring to the reader. In this soundbite world, I imagine few have read and enjoyed the original work. Avid readers know what the rest of the world seems to have forgotten, the pure joy of a brilliant masterwork. Granted, I have enjoyed the many previous movies based on Gulliver's Travels and fully expect to enjoy the new Jack Black movie, but having been on movie sets, and in the cutting room, I know that a movie can rarely do a complete novel justice, unless they want to make a movie six to eight hours long. For time reasons, it simply isn't possible to include everything in a movie that's in a book. I urge everyone that enjoys a great story to both get and enjoy the book version of Gulliver's Travels, and go see the movie, but not necessarily in that order. Enjoy the book for the literary masterwork it is, and the movie for the comedic genius that is Mr. Black.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is different than the movie but it is way better! I rate it five out of five!
Benedick_101 More than 1 year ago
I won't lie: I initially read Gulliver's Travels so that I would be justified in hating the Jack Black film for destroying a masterpiece of literature. However, I really got into this wonderful tale!! This edition contains helpful notes that tell you exactly what Jonathan Swift was satirizing (i.e. "Big Endians" and "Little Endians, Laputa, etc.) and you are able to see the brilliance in his ideas. The only reason i didn't give it five stars is that the voyage to Brobdingnag (Book 2) drags a little bit. On the whole, it's a bona fide magnum opus
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first time I read this novel was in high school. he story at face value can be viewed as a children's story, yet for me Swift's story dug deep and opened my eyes to a world beyond my own, and taught me to search for a sort of utopia, only one that resides within our world. Since reading Gulliver's Travel, I have gone on to college, and is now a graduate student in English Literature.I have in that period probably recommended this novel to everyone I've ever met interested in reading. It changed my life in ways I can't understand fully, but the heart and soul of Gulliver lives in me now, taking me through journeys one can only dream of.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little interesting but too similar to Robinson Crusoe THERE WAS NO CALIFORNIA IN THE 17TH CENTURY!!!!!!
NataliaAbramova More than 1 year ago
The first two parts were interesting and adventurous. The second part was my favorite. But the third and the forth were less exciting and more philosophical. Overall it's a good book but I found the second half of the book to be a bit boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only difficult part was using the endnotes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a fun witty book. I looked at a lot if the footnotes which helped me follow the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I must admit, it was a very good read. Some old fashioned terms, yes, but I think (and hope) it retained all of it's wit and charm throught the years. Overall, not exactly somethingbI would let my 7-year old read (if I had one) but DEFINETLY one for the teens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great. The first 40 or so pages are just some things the author wanted to put in. If you just skip to chapter1 and ignore those, it'll be fine. The only grammar mistake was it was missing an apostrophe. And it only happens once. Great book. Reccomend it to all!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it. It was really funny and's not short. So don't start it unless you have some time.
EnglTchr More than 1 year ago
I have put off reading Gulliver's Travels for perhaps 50 years. I should have read it sooner. It's funny and surprisingly up-to-date. Everyone knows about Gulliver's being in the land of the Lilliputians, but you ought to know about the land where horses are the masters and humans are uncouth and despised yahoos.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey if your in to a good adventure story this is the book to read. Youstart off in a easy to grasp startingjourney and then the story continues to get further out their but you see a side of the characters as we act in humanity. This is a good story full of great adventures. All i can say is poor gulliver or is he really in need of pity?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 11 and i liked it recomend this book for all great readers
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kids will like this book to read. It is a very funny book. I just got it and it is awsome! This is a good book for young alduts and senor citizons.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ZenobiaF More than 1 year ago
Caustic and still highly relevant. Every educated person should read and enjoy this book.
DollyMN More than 1 year ago
I read this book 40 years ago and pick it up to read on my Nook because it was free, I am glad I did. Loved it better this time now that I am older and know about great writting.
pod49 More than 1 year ago
Political Satire written centuries ago doesn't allways translate to the present. However if one follows our current political leader and pundits it looks a lot like when Gulliver visited the Lilliputians. Just like in lilliput everyone is an expert with their talking points. Not a great amount of dialog but much to think about.
William Gold More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Swift flips conventions on its head and simultaneously gives you a smart, socially relevant view of society and politics in his time.
mr_mountain_lion More than 1 year ago
Gulliver's Travels is a satirical novel written by Jonathan Swift that was first published in 1726. Gulliver's Travels is divided into four parts: A Voyage to Lilliput and Blefuscu, A Voyage to Laputa, A Voyage to Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan, and finally A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms. Before reading Gulliver's Travels I knew of the Voyage to Lilliput and the Voyage to Brobdingnag; Lilliput is the home of the tiny people and Brobdingnag the home of the giant people. However I was not aware of the last two voyages; the Voyage to Laputa and the Voyage to the country of the Houyhnhnms. Laputa is a land ruled by philosophers, musicians, artists, mathematicians, and scientists who are so lost in thought they can't see how to apply their knowledge to a practical use. In the Country of the Houyhnhnms, the land is ruled by wise and gentle horses and inhabited by wild, beastly human-like creatures called Yahoos. Jonathan Swift satirizes social issues that were important in his time, and still remain important social issues currently such as: politics, religion, gender, science, progress, government, family and our basic ideas of humanity. Gulliver's Travels is full of humor and Swift's exploration of imaginary societies and countries is satire at its best. Overall, I give Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels a well deserved five stars.
MisterKillion More than 1 year ago
I believe that Jonathan Swift did an amazing job at conveying life within the English 17th century society. The way he was able to criticize his people so covertly and precise is beyond my imagination. Aswell, as the way he was able to create this immense land of fictional characters and imaginary beings. The book overall was great but, I just think that if you really want to understand the story you should buy a simplified version of the book. This was a really cheaply made book to. I wouldn't mind going back and paying the extra 4 dollars for a better version. Overall good story; Bad book. :)