A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5
Jonathan Swift - father of modern satire. And this book, my second favorite work of Swiftian satire (after “A Modest Proposal” which, if you haven’t read, you should stop reading this and do; it isn’t very long and might be the best thing you read all week. Highly entertaining and, sadly, highly relevant even to this day) is a shining example of the master at work. J-Swift (as I like to call him), who is, at least as far as I know, not related to T-Swift, was essentially the Jon Stewart (or J-Stew, as Tracy Morgan likes to call him...also, Stew-Beef) of the early Enlightenment era. He was responsible for some of the most gut-busting, knee-slapping, just outright silly works of English literature that has ever seen the printing presses.
Gulliver’s Travels tells the tale of a Lemuel Gulliver, an explorer of sorts who becomes shipwrecked during one of his voyages. He ends up on this island with a bunch of little people - not midgets, though. I’m talking really tiny. Like infinitesimal. Little tiny decimals. That right there. That decimal. That’s probably how small they were. Anyway, the island is called Lilliput, and the people on it are known as Lilliputians. At first they like him, but then they end up sentencing him to be blinded for a number of supposed crimes he has committed (the Lilliputians were a rather tedious bunch, in this regard), such as peeing on the capital, which he only did in order to put out a fire.
So, our pal Gulliver packs his things and ships on out elsewhere. Throughout his travels, he is attacked by pirates, rescued and taken to a flying island known as Laputa, hobnobs with the ghosts of various historical figures (such as Julius Caesar, his buddy Brutus, and our pals Homer, Aristotle, and Rene Descartes), meets a few more crazies, returns home, gets bored, and goes back out to live among a race of talking horses, known Houyhnhms. He eventually grows to greatly admire the Houyhnhnms and opts to live amongst them, rejecting his fellow humans as mere Yahoos, to be subject to the whims of the Houyhnhnms.
When he finally returns home to England, he ends up becoming a recluse, in order to avoid dealing with all of the Yahoos amongst him. It reminds me a lot of the ending of Goodfellas, when Henry Hill, after living amongst the elite (relatively, at least) was then forced to return to a life of schmuckery. Ketchup on his pasta, the whole shebang. Real bummer.