Gulliver's Travels has been a classic but somewhat overlooked read for many years, perhaps because of its supposed complexity. Still, it is an incredbly imaginative series of voyages and adventures to strange and wonderful places (a matter of opinion of course), and the superb writing and imagination on display in this Swift Classic can not be denied.
Jonathan Swift's masterful descriptions of distant island lands, their inhabitants, strange customs, and Gulliver's perceptions and treatment in each place is extaordinary. Yet, not to be ignored are the underlying political and moral aspects which are woven throughtout the text, and in some cases, existant in today's politics and, surprisingly, our society. In many ways futuristic, Jonathan Swift proves a master of imagination and human behavior.
Equally outstanding; and handled deftly, is Mr. Pierce's interpretive reading of the text. Performed with an English accent, and with undeniable superlative vocal skill, Mr. Pierce ushers us through each new voyage with such ease and understanding, that one wonders if Swift weren't whispering direction in his ear. What can understandably be a complex and confusing read, is made entertaining and easily pictured in the mind's eye of the reader when put in Mr. Pierce's very talented hands. I can imagine no one better to have narrated such a grand selection as Gulliver's Travels.
I usually prefer a printed version for the books I read for a class.But when I began to read Gulliver's Travels for a class, I realized that it would most likely be amazing on audiobook, and I was right! Immediately my pronunciations and comprehension of this book increased.
As a child I remember reading condensed and sensitized versions of this story, and now as an adult, I began to see more of the true story. Every time a somewhat inappropriate part came on, I was shocked into laughter. Don't get me wrong, the full version is still very appropriate for children in my opinion, but it creates a more enjoyable experience for more mature audiences as well.
This timeless story was one of the more enjoyable listens I have had. The narrator does a great job of using his voice to create a visual of the locations but the time period as well. I would most likely not listen to this again, simply because of the length and lack of the action that I prefer in a book. As for recommending this book, I would only suggest it to someone with a very patient love of classics.
The book is a classic (more than just the 'Lilliput' story that gets turned into cartoons or comic movies every so often)...social commentary and satire disguised as a traditional travelogue. David Hyde Pierce is a brilliant narrator and excellent for this piece.
Yes! It's a fresh view of an otherwise difficult read. I've found that listening to books written before 1900 has made the stories come alive. English language prose from about 1700-1900 is often formal and very wordy to modern readers; it generally puts me off. The written form of Gulliver's Travels is especially like that. Jonathon Swift's phonetic spelling of foreign names and places reads awful. His overly polite and courtly speech is tiresome in print; it always bogged me down so that I missed the thrust of the story.
Ah, but spoken by Mr. Pierce the book comes alive. It is easy to hear the subtle sarcasm buried in the superficial formalities, to appreciate the satire embedded in nearly unpronounceable (but not to the narrator) names.The rendition becomes a delight to listen to and to remember. At work, I often see the same Swift characters, behaving the same way.
Why, Gulliver himself. How could one forget the scene in Lilliput (inhabitants very small but very self important) where the towering giant Gulliver, suddenly awakened from his night's sleep, strides over the town to pluck the queen trapped in her burning palace, then saves the palace from certain destruction by the only means available, pissing on the fire....the only water available....then enduring the rage and enmity of the queen, who orders the palace torn down and Gulliver's death to pay for such an outrageous act. Why wasn't this scene in the Disney version? Recanting this still makes me laugh out loud.
Do yourself a favor, try LISTENING to Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, any Washington Irving stories, Jack London stories; you'll be amazed by how good they are.
Business owner , philanthropist.
So well read. Its like being there. I was so zoned out into it that I was surprised little people were not next to me.
St. Louis, Missouri
This book did very little for me in high school, so when it was offered as a Daily Deal in July of last year I leapt at the chance to see if several decades of experience in the world would change my tepid adolescent reaction. It is, after all, one of our Classics, a work that needs to be in everyone’s mental arsenal. The adolescent me was vapid and shallow. Surely, I’d get more out of the experience now.
Nope. I’m still as vapid and shallow as ever.
Yes, I “get” the book. That’s the whole problem. Gulliver’s Travels is one of those books whose point is so obvious that the reader (or listener) realizes very early on that that copy of Cliff’s Notes won’t be necessary. Yes, we humans are horrible, contradictory creatures worthy of ridicule. Our manners and mores can be held up for constant criticism. Our wars are nothing more than wastes of resources. Our pride is pointless. The grandest among us is nothing more than a Lilliputian or Yahoo in disguise. And to make the thing even more hopelessly horrible Gulliver, in his final contempt for his own species, becomes even more contemptible than you or me.
Gullible Gulliver is Everyman, taking in all he sees and hears uncritically, much as I did in my first Political Science class in high school. I was by turns a dedicated Hobbesian, a committed Marxist, a zealous Jeffersonian, depending on what we happened to be reading that week. In Gulliver’s case, “we” (you and me, the reader or listener) get the ironies, but the pleasure derived from the exercise soon palls.
There is also some annoying Enlightenment oversimplification at work here, especially in matters of religion. The essential dispute between Protestants and Catholics—the different understandings of Jesus’ words, “This is my body”—is lampooned as a disagreement about the best way to attack a soft-boiled egg. As silly and pointless as many human activities can admittedly be, this isn’t one of them. Yes, I enjoyed the picture of Balnibarbi’s blind pursuit of “science” as possibly Swift’s most “relevant” commentary for our Modern Times (a passage that probably provokes the scientifically-minded as much as the Big-and-Little-Endians chafed me). Swift seems to be criticizing everything and defending nothing—except possibly human reason. But by the end we humans are revealed as nothing but Yahoos in fancy dress.
Maybe that’s what’s at the heart of my dislike of this book—the sense in the end that nothing really matters. Certainly that’s how Gulliver feels by the end. Cast out of Houyhnhnm society on the charge that he is nothing more than a dressed-up Yahoo, he holds no grudge but accepts their verdict with nary a shadow of resentment. In fact, he spends the last pages pining for their society and counting the ways that England falls short of that equine paradise. Maybe I do need some Cliff’s Notes after all, because I really have no idea how I am supposed to react. Is Gulliver a complete fool? Are the just criticisms of society made throughout the book to be believed? Has Gulliver just taken them too far? Unfortunately, after contemplating these questions for a few minutes I have to admit I don’t really care.
Even David Hyde Pierce’s performance is something of a disappointment. An actor who could wring the last fluid ounce of humor out of the briefest remark on “Frasier”, his effort here seems lackluster. Maybe Swift’s writing gave him nothing to hold on to (a distinct possibility). Or, maybe he was just out of sympathy with the book, too.
I had forgotten how much I liked this book. Everyone is familiar with Book I - Lilliput. A few know Book II -Bbrobidgnag. Things get even more interesting in Book III, with its classic satire on abstruse scholarship. Book IV is the best of all. David Hyde Pierce could not be bettered as a reader.
David Hyde Pierce is hilarious. I feel like his rendition of the written work adds so much that a reader may not pick up on their own initially. Also, it's easy to picture him in the role so if you're driving when you listen to this (like I was) it doesn't take a whole lot of focus to visualize the character since he is already so recognizable. Witty, honest, and hilarious.
I'll be honest, I'm only about halfway through but so far his "little nurse" is my favorite; the little girl who takes care of him in the land of the giants. I could so easily picture a sweet little girl taking such loving, but absented-minded care of a little wanderer.
This book was clearly written in a time before television or other such easy entertainment modes. Such books seem so much more ornate in description and detail. So some parts went a bit slow at times. The specific dimensions given for different structures in town could become tedious. Even with that disclaimer, my favorite parts were in his description of cultures. For example, in Lilliput, he goes in detail about how children are raised, gender roles in society, and other cultural specifics. I find this fascinating to think he is comparing it to England at the time. The history nerd in me takes parts like this and builds an entire world around, the one he is describing and the one he is comparing it to.
I still have a few hours left to listen to! I'm just over halfway so I feel like I can't speak to this question just yet.
I listened to this book while driving by myself on an extended road trip. I am a frequent audio book listener and have come to be much better at absorbing details by listening alone, rather than needing to read it before it truly sinks in. I found this book to be so detailed at times that I missed parts because I zoned out. I replayed parts and had to back up occasionally. I feel like this book would be hard to listen to with a group of travelers because each would miss different parts that enhance the overall story due to the nature of the writing. Share it with friends, but after you've listened to it at your own pace!
There's a reason that books remain in print this long. They continue to relate to the 'modern' reader. In whatever age the 'modern' reader may be living. I laughed out loud frequently, and was a little surprised at the, er, 'earthy' humor. Being striped naked and laid between the breats of the giant women of Brobdingnag is racier than I thought would have been allowed. But then the book WAS originally published in secret. David Hyde Pierce does an outstanding job of narrating as well. Top notch. A very strong 'recommend'.