Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

Swift, the great 18th century Anglo-Irish satirist, is most widely known for Gulliver’s Travels. Many mistakenly think of it as a children’s book, yet it reveals one of the darkest, most savage views of humanity ever penned.

The illustrator Arthur Rackham captured the horror that Gulliver embodied.

  • born Nov. 30, 1667, in Dublin, to Anglo-Irish parents.
  • became an Anglican clergyman.
  • lived and worked in England during much of his adult life.
  • was deeply involved in the politics of the day.
  • was widely celebrated as a satirist and writer.
  • died in Dublin on Oct. 19, 1745.

8 Responses to Jonathan Swift

  1. janewiseman says:

    I’m just getting around to replying to this thread, but I’m very interested to hear your thoughts about “Gulliver’s Travels.” Spencer compares Bk. IV to “Dances With Wolves” and “Avatar,” and those seem to me to be useful comparisons. What might the DIFFERENCES be? Are there differences in tone, in intention?

  2. Spencer says:

    Well there are certainly many examples of how Part IV is adapted to pop culture. Gullivers relation with the horse people is very much the same as Kevin Costner’s experience in Dances with Wolves or Captain Sully’s adventure in Avatar. The whole story is about experiencing a mysterious culture firsthand and in turn realizing that yours is, in fact, the savage race. I don’t know, maybe Jane Goodall could relate?

  3. Chrisitna Sinnott says:

    Physical power is just as important in Laputa as it is in Lilliput and Brobdingnag. Here, power is exercised not through physical size but through technology. The government floats over the rest of the kingdom, using technology to gain advantage over its subjects. The floating island is both a formidable weapon and an allegorical image that represents the distance between the government and the people it governs. The king is oblivious to the real concerns of the people below—indeed, he has never even been below. This is similar to our own government we use our “advanced” technology to take over and influence other cultures. We are just like the Laputan king because our own leaders seem out of touch with the people of America and they seem not to be able make decisions because of this.

  4. J Brez says:

    Is satire an appropriate response here in the 21st century?
    I believe satire has a very important role in today’s society. Satire provides us a tools by which to critically look at something, and in this modern world where there seems to be many gay areas, there is plenty of things to satire (verb?). A trend I have noticed in the modern age, is the combination of satire and comedy. While satire does traditionally have some humor in their works, recent shows such as South Park and The Colbert Report seem to be leaning towards more of a comedic sort of show. I believe that satire in this form is not “true” satire, as it uses comedy to draw an audience, and its main purpose is to entertain. Sometimes these shows can be dangerous, such as South Park’s “Kick a Ginger Day.” Ever since the show has introduced this idea of hating on gingers, there have been many instances of viewers acting out these hateful activities against red-headed people.

  5. Spencer Bennington says:

    Simple question and simple answer.
    Q: Is satire appropriate/warrented in the 21st century
    A: South Park… 14 seasons…enough said

    What? That’s not enough? The fact is that satire is always appropriate for every generation because if you can’t make fun of what bothers you then you can only dwell on it in its most serious terms. Without satire we would all have to be the melancholy Auden modernists and spend all of our time writing epitaphs and eulogies. Boo-Hoo. Give me a break. That being said, I hate Jonathon Swift and I hate Gulliver’s Travels. There I said it. This will be my third time reading it and I am not very happy about it. Soooo… good luck to all of the Swift noobs. I hope you find the adventures of the Liliputians and Bragajaajdehfjakakdons more exciting then I did.

  6. Christina Sinnott says:

    I think that satire is still appropriate, and useful in today’s modern society. It is appropriate because it points out the facts that we want to overlook or discount. Take for example, today’s political cartoonist they show us, in a funny manner, why our government is faulty. Also today’s satire is used as a common form of entrainment in today’s society. Take for example, the spoof movies (Vampire’s Suck) everyday people think that they are hilarious, and do not consider that they are making fun of the movies they love.

    • Cari Beck says:

      Christina, I completely agree with you. Without the humorous approach to politics in political cartoons, I honestly would not understand much about politics. Then again, satirists may only offer biased opinions. I think satire is effective and, at times, may be appropriate. However, most of the satire we have mentioned here is absorbed by our generation, the young generation, the easily-influenced generation. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion of everything from politics to entertainment (common topics of satire today), but is it really their own opinion if they are fed someone else’s biased view?

  7. Christina Sinnott says:

    Journal #4
    I think the purpose of fiction is to give the author and the reader a chance to express their ideas in a safe and fictional place. For example in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, he makes reference to several political figures of the time, and he goes on to make fun of these figures. If Swift did not write Gulliver’s Travels, and instead voice his distaste of the these people openly he would have most likely been either exiled or killed.

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