I got this as a book when I was 5. Six decades later I finally appreciate and understand it. The reader adds much to this work. I feel the story was acted as well as read and that made it all the more enjoyable. For his time Mr. Swift must have been a true iconoclast.
I know it's a classic but it is well worth the time to re-examine in this form. You'll enjoy it I'm sure.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
After foolishly watching Jack Black's abominable Gulliver's Travels movie on TV, I had to purge myself of the experience by re-reading Jonathan Swift's original novel. The imaginative, humorous, and scathing depiction of human nature and civilization in Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726) set me right with the world. Ah, it's salutary to be reminded that we are all Yahoos! The novel uses the device of an Everyman traveling to imaginary cultures and living among their fantastic denizens to reflect back on our own cultures and selves in quite humbling ways. Swift's first person narrator and alter-ego, Lemuel Gulliver, is an English ship's surgeon who likes his country but can't resist traveling. Over sixteen years, by chance he ends up in various lands hitherto unknown to Europeans, among them Lilliput (whose people are about six inches tall and have accordingly tiny flora, fauna, and things), Brobdingnag (whose people are about sixty feet tall and have accordingly giant flora, fauna, and things), Laputa (whose people live on an adamantine island that floats in the sky), Luggnagg (among whose people are a handful of senile immortals), and the country of the Houyhnhnms (whose people are a race of wise, reasonable, and clean-living horses).
Swift makes the major places and peoples feel "real" and interesting on their own terms. He imagines neat details about what it would be like to be a giant among the Lilliputians (e.g., extinguishing a palatial fire by urinating on it) and a small animal among the Brobdingnagians (e.g., climbing up and down ladders to read giant books). He entertainingly extrapolates to absurd extremes the Laputians' excessive pursuit of mathematics, music, and innovation, rendering the learned men so engrossed in their speculations that servants must "flap" them on the eyes or ears or mouth to get them to attend when something vital to see or hear or say turns up. And he presents the Houyhnhnms as perfectly reason-based beings, with obvious merits (health, chastity, honesty, loyalty, etc.) and less obvious demerits (a lack of sympathy for the presence of a certain Yahoo from abroad).
At the same time, Swift uses all those places to critique 18th-century England and Europe in such a way that applies to our own 21st century world, because, after all people are people no matter when or where they live. He satirizes our political factions (the Lilliputian court is divided between High-Heel and Low-Heel wearing men), ambitious gymnastics (Lilliputians who want high positions in court must dance on a tight rope), and religious disputes (Lilliputians who break an egg at the small end persecute those who break it at the big end and both sides invoke their holy book). He satirizes our complicated law system and career military system through the Brobdingnagian law against the interpretation of laws (which may be no longer than the 22 letters in their alphabet) and custom of fielding an army as needed without pay. And he satirizes our dysfunctional governments by having a learned man suggest that because the human body and the body politic are equivalent, all Senators should be dosed with Palliatives, Laxatives, and the like, which would beget unanimity and shorten debates. After Gulliver interviews spirits of the dead raised for him by a necromancer of Glubdugdribgub, he condemns "modern History," by which "the World had been misled by prostitute Writers" who have made cowards, fools, and traitors appear to be heroic leaders and obscured the fact that the only successful "great Enterprizes and Revolutions" in human history have arisen from "contemptible Accidents."
When among the Houyhnhnms, Gulliver discourses on the unworthy causes of war among European nations and lists the weapons devised by humans to kill and maim as many people and destroy as many cities as possible. He tells his equine master about lawyers, "a Society of men" paid to "wholly confound. . . the very Essence of Truth and Falsehood, or Right and Wrong." In explaining money, he points out "that the Bulk of our People were forced to live miserably, by labouring every Day for small Wages, to make a few live plentifully." One of the funniest moments in the novel is when Gulliver lists the many civilized Yahoo vices and crimes he is free from while living among the Houyhnhnms, of which the following is a small sample: "here were no Gibers, Censurers, Backbiters, Pickpockets, Highwaymen, House-breakers, Attorneys, Bawds, Buffoons, Gamesters, Politicians, Wits, Splenetics, tedious Talkers, Controvertists, Ravishers, Murderers, Robbers, Virtuosos . . . no Lords, Fiddlers, Judges, or Dancing-Masters." His master's conclusion is that we use our small share of reason "to aggravate our natural Corruptions, and to acquire new ones, which Nature had not given us."
So urgent is Swift's need to puncture our pride that excrement and urine play comically gross roles in each of the Four Parts of his novel, from embarrassing accounts of how he "discharged the Necessities of Nature" in Lilliput and Brobdingnag to moments like meeting a scientist who is obsessively researching a way to return human ordure to its original food content.
I found David Hyde Pierce to be a capable but not wonderful reader with one exception: he pronounces Houyhnhnm words with a charming hint of a neigh.
Readers who want plenty of suspenseful and exciting action and adventure might do well to read a different book. But readers who love the English language beautifully, bitterly, imaginatively, and humorously employed by a keen (if misanthropic) observer of humankind would like Gulliver's Travels. Gulliver explains that he could overlook human vices and follies if only people would not be so proud of themselves. If you feel proud to be human ("the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin" according to the Brobdingnag king), reading this book ought to take you down a peg or two.
I mistakenly thought this book was for a younger audience....i.e. if I am fifty-something I should have gotten to it earlier. Not so. Each "world" he travels to is an ironic joke directed at segments of regular society. Should we divide along party lines over the method by which you crack your eggs (big-end crackers or small-end crackers)? David Hyde Pierce did an outstanding job. I have not seen the printed version of the book and thus can only imagine how he sounded out some of the languages. He did a particularly good job with the horses. A great book and a great performance.
Say something about yourself!
Mr. Pierce does a great job narrating. The notion 'Miles' is reading this does not interfere with the quality of the text. He's pretty perfect. Knowing this story from movies only, I was pleased to hear it as written. It's humorous and satirical, lots of 'potty' stuff, full of fantasy and Swift's personal politics and humanism. It's wonderful, for me, to hear an author of the period, blast the cruelty and evil of imperialism for it's destruction and massacres of lands and inhabitants, for greed, and in the name of God and goodness.
Finding a narrator for Gulliver's Travels will always be a difficult choice. Think of any great actor and you'll find them reading this classic tale. David Hyde Pierce will forever be remembered as Nile Crane on Frasier, so it's an inspired choice for him to narrate this signature performance of Gulliver's Travels. He reads with drama, sense and skill, bringing life to the story with an appropriate sense of curiosity and discovery. To this story of travelling and adventure, of empires and the spreading and sharing of cultures and knowledge, his accent brings a particular emphasis which both suits the story and gives it new inflection. It's a great reading of this masterpiece which is well worth hearing and enjoying.
Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!
I have tried to read this book, but found it difficult. I decided to give it a go when I saw this edition narrated by David Hyde Pierce. Previously I hadn't gotten past the Brobdingnag chapter. I knew it was a satire, but didn't realize it was also science fiction (3rd chapter with a "floating island") and is very earthy.
Gulliver has four travels and he progressively realizes how corrupt his race/nation is. I read one description of the stories that is great for summarizing - little (Lilliput) to big (Brobdingnag), and math/music (Laputa mainly) to natural (Houyhnhnm - which is horse language). Along the way Gulliver compares the government of each country to his own and finds they are worse or better.
The audio book was superb - especially David Hyde Pierce's perfection of the Houyhnhnm pronunciation.
I love to travel and train dogs. I can't seem to find the time to sit down and read so I listen while I'm on my way to...well...anywhere!
Yes, because he read Gulliver's Travels very well considering all of the different characters he had to read for and he didn't read in silly voices. Pierce also had some incredibly weird names to pronounce and accents to keep straight.
When Gulliver left his Houyhnhnm Master.
1) When Gulliver left Glundalclitch.
2) When Gulliver left his Houyhnhnm Master.
Made me think about how Swift unfolded his idea that Humans are not suppose to know everything.
Now I know what it means when someone is called a YaHoo.
This is one of the best audiobook performances I have had the pleasure to listen to.
The story is timeless - and I've read it many times. All four of Gulliver's travels make for great reading.
All of them. He does a really great job.
When he realizes that humans are closer to base animals than creatures of reason.
David Hyde Pierce's voice is perfect for the role.
Even as I plan to reread the Swift masterpiece, I shall probably listen again as well. In fairness, some of discourse makes the text rather difficult for the audio medium, and while the reader may take the liberty of rereading a challenging passage, the listener generally cannot (or does not) indulge in an analogous luxury.
Pierce handled the narrative splendidly, with good articulation and clear delivery. There were parts of the third voyage (Laputa) that certainly require a little more time to process (cf., my first paragraph, above), although this is perhaps a subjective observation. I believe Pierce hits his high point in the final voyage; the nobility of the horses and savagery of the yahoos comes through with all of the author's intent.
Bottom line: a good production, an excellent performance, and -- of course -- a classic piece of literature.
Devouring literature and having fun along the way. :] Well, for the most part.
I didn't think I could enjoy reading Gulliver's Travels more than I did until I heard this narration! If you are planning to read this novel, DEFINITELY download this one--the narration is crisp and pure, the character is well-developed, and the pronunciation is fantastic. I loved the fourth journey most if not for the story for David Pierce's awesome use of the foreign language.