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Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce Audiobook

Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce

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Audible Editor Reviews

Gulliver’s encounters with fantastic peoples and creatures - from the small-statured Lilliputians to the stargazing Liputians - reach to the far corners of the world. As narrator, David Hyde Pierce wonderfully captures the wit and irony of this much-loved classic. Despite Gulliver’s detailed, and sometimes cumbersome, descriptions of strange lands and their inhabitants, Pierce doesn’t miss a beat. His melodic voice wraps perfectly around Swift’s eighteenth-century language. His pronunciations of the imaginative languages are delightful, especially the neighing expressions of the Houyhnhnms, a utopian society of horses. Pierce’s consistently matter-of-fact tone fits Swift’s own. His reading highlights the author’s humor and sarcasm, pulling the listener into this fantastic journey.

Publisher's Summary

Four-time Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce is famous for playing the lovably self-important Dr. Niles Crane in the hit TV series Frasier. Now, he brings the same wit and charming arrogance to his Signature Classics performance of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

More than just a mock travel book and fabulous adventure, Gulliver’s Travels is a character study and social satire that skewers politics, science, religion, philosophy, and pretentiousness with a bite and resonance that remains as fresh today as the day it was published. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t been out of print in nearly 300 years.

Set sail with David Hyde Pierce for a smart, fun, new Gulliver’s Travels experience that’s unlike any other. And stay tuned for more one-of-a-kind performances from actors Leelee Sobiesky, Casey Affleck, Tim Curry, and more, only from Audible Signature Classics.

Listen to more Audible Signature Classics.

Public Domain (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Despite Gulliver’s detailed, and sometimes cumbersome, descriptions of strange lands and their inhabitants, Pierce doesn’t miss a beat. His melodic voice wraps perfectly around Swift’s eighteenth-century language. His pronunciations of the imaginative languages are delightful, especially the neighing expressions of the Houyhnhnms, a utopian society of horses. In a book in which the author’s voice comes through on every page, Pierce’s consistently matter-of-fact tone fits Swift’s own. His reading highlights the author’s humor and sarcasm, pulling the listener into this fantastic journey." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Reader 05-01-14
    Reader 05-01-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Second A-list book and loved it!"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca 03-31-13
    Rebecca 03-31-13 Member Since 2009

    Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!

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    "David Hyde Pierce puts the fun back into this book"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HIYBRID 02-09-13
    HIYBRID 02-09-13

    Cook, Steelworker, Sailor in Viet Nam. Retired after 4 decades as an RN. Share a birthday with Mark Twain and his love of "spinnin' a yarn"

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    "Go on, Indulge your inner Child"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon 07-11-13
    Sharon 07-11-13 Member Since 2011
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    "I hated this story!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce to be better than the print version?

    Yes, I would not have finished the book if I had to read it. David Hyde Pierce was fantastic!


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I actually ended up hating this book. As a kid you only hear of part of the story. This was not kids book and I thought the ending was disturbing, although it may have been valid.


    What does David Hyde Pierce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    When Davis Hyde Pierce is reading you get the full experience of the emotions involved from Gulliver"s prospective. I do wonder how he figured out how to say some of the words.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was moved at Gulliver's mistreatment all through the book. I guess so was Gulliver based on the ending of the book.


    Any additional comments?

    I am not sorry that I got this book, but I really disliked the story. I was hoping for a nice fairy tale. Wow! So much craziness going on in this book.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 08-06-15
    Jennifer 08-06-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Travel memoir, more a derisive social commentary"

    I took longer to read this than planned, I found some sections rather dry. Overall it was fine, just a memoir account of the hazard-ridden journeys to some unknown lands.

    It had the element of the fantastic (and sometimes very creative) in the descriptions of the inhabitants and cultures he encounters, but almost more notable to me was his descriptions of Western European culture to them. It was as much a social commentary and criticism of 'civilization' as it was a story of exotic new places. I was less impressed by his initial accounts of Liliput as the theme was familiar to me from pop culture references, as was some of his life among the giants of Brogdingnag. Laputa was quite new, and the floating island brought to mind the zeppelin affinity of the steampunk style. His final adventures were the most transformative for himself, and the most critical of humankind, but I didn't care much for it. At that point his themes and low opinions seemed predictable. I did pity him though, when he was 'rescued' against his will by the Portuguese captain. Quite unreasonable of them to simply force a man to leave with them. I don't suppose anyone would have considered that a shipwrecked, mutinied against and long-from-home traveler might not WANT to be rescued, but good heavens when he protested no one even bothered to ask him why or what he was about. Oy.

    Like I said, some good bits of adventure, but more than anything a commentary of the state of Western Europe a few centuries ago (though little has fundamentally changed in the intervening time).

    Wonderful performance by Pierce. I can't imagine at the moment what some of those foreign words must have resembled on the page, but he articulated even the most outlandish syllables Swift crated as if they were common vernacular. I couldn't help but picture Dr. Niles Crane sitting in a smoking jacket in some posh library in a leather chair reading aloud. ;P

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew FAIR OAKS, CA, United States 10-17-14
    Andrew FAIR OAKS, CA, United States 10-17-14 Member Since 2009

    I'm a web developer based out of Sacramento, I listen to books while I work, and love audible.

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    "Not a Kids Story"
    Any additional comments?

    I had always thought this was a kids story. This is not, it's a political satire that kids would not get, and apparently many adults didn't get either, if they thought it was a kids story.

    All should read this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Ward 10-08-14
    J. Ward 10-08-14 Member Since 2014
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    "more annoying with each chapter"
    What does David Hyde Pierce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    David Hyde Pierce does a terrific job bringing the opinions of the narrator to life. His performance was great.


    Any additional comments?

    I just didn't enjoy the story much, so it was a chore to finish the book. Thank goodness for the narration of David Hyde Pierce, which brought some fun to the listening.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson 07-20-14
    Jefferson 07-20-14 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

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    ""A real Yahoo in every limb and feature""

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Geoffrey Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 03-14-14
    Geoffrey Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 03-14-14 Member Since 2010

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Informative and Funny!"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Mount Macedon, Australia 06-29-13
    Emily Mount Macedon, Australia 06-29-13 Member Since 2015

    A lover of audiobooks of all kinds, since childhood, when long car journeys were accompanied by Discworld stories. @ReineDesLivres (Twitter)

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    "A wonderful American narration of this classic"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Ruth
    Brockley, London, United Kingdom
    2/13/11
    Overall
    "Lively and unusual"

    I chose this audiobook because I took advantage of the 'free first chapter' offer and then couldn't resist getting the rest. I had read a child's version of Gulliver's Travels when I was about seven, and although I enjoyed it at the time, I've often wondered what the original is like.

    And it's great! Most people know about Lilliput etc, but the rest makes for just as compulsive listening - if not more so. It was both funny, clever and thought provoking. It is obvious that the book makes many political points which will be most meaningful to those with the appropriate historical knowledge (which I don't really have), but even so I found the humour and sharpness in it very effective and, interestingly, several of the comments seemed pertinent to our laws/politicians etc today!

    I thought it was superbly read, even though the English accent as portrayed by an American was slightly odd at times. But that didn't matter at all as it was read in such a lively and spirited manner. And his mastery of the many, many nonsense names made me want to laugh/cheer out loud! If you do choose this book, make sure you stick it to the end as the reading of the last section is brilliant. Full marks, I really enjoyed it.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
    2/6/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Simply brilliant."

    David Hyde Pierce brings this famous title alive with his narration. Hard to believe this was written so many years ago. As relevant now as it ever was. It should be required reading for everyone.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • JBW
    7/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Excellent Novel - essential reading for all"

    Excellent Novel - essential reading for all

    Very well narrated - a true classic

    Most enjoyable

    JBW

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Los Gallardos, Spain
    12/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "great stuff well read"

    David Hp has the perfect voice for this story. An elegant sneer that keeps the story rolling.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Cliff
    Frinton on Sea, United Kingdom
    1/23/13
    Overall
    "A True Classic"

    Evocatively written. The style and reader are beautifully matched. So much more to it than an old book for kids - which is what I have always thought it was.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Miss
    Saffron Walden, United Kingdom
    10/21/12
    Overall
    "Highly enjoyable"

    Really enjoyed this reading. 'Niles Crane' makes an excellent narrator, although his fake posh English accent sometimes slips up. Had never read the story of Gulliver before, and think that listening to it probably added an edge to the irony and veiled sarcasm which reading may not have. Thoroughly recommended

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    UK
    1/26/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "DHP's accent is a distraction"
    What would have made Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce better?

    The performance would be much improved by David Hyde Pierce *not* adopting a faux English accent. For one thing the accent he tries to emulate is what I would call "Oxford English", which is not really appropriate for Swift (nor for Gulliver, who is meant to hail from Nottingham). And for another I'm afraid the quite frequent interpolation of a somewhat different accent (Yorkshire?) into occasional syllables means the performance just gets in the way of the text. I enjoy Mr. Pierce as a character actor but someone should disabuse him of the notion that he can carry an extended pastiche like this for very long. I gave up after 2 chapters.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce?

    Didn't get far enough to have an opinion.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The shaky attempt at an English accent makes the listening experience hard work.


    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • GenKan
    4/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Two lovely stores and two satirical"
    What did you like most about Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce?

    Fantastic, every time he "pronounced" the "words" of the different worlds I could barley keep myself from laughing out loud.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The first two was clearly the best, the satirical tone was turned on at the end of the of the second book. The dialog with the king of Brobdingnag was just a bash of his culture


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The way he saved the queen when he was on the island of Lilliput


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The strange relation he had to his human wife. Who would accept there significant other to go away for year after almost dying two times?!


    Any additional comments?

    Easy to recommend this book, was great but its obvious Swift show little respect and appropriation for royalty and lawyers.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • HA
    6/6/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not bad"

    Not Bad...... Very wordy and detailed but reasonably entertaining. Very unlike expectation. Shows that often we only heat the choice cuts of a story!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • rollingplacebo
    3/3/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "One of my favourite books ever."

    There is so much more to this book than what one may know from some movie or cartoon adaptations.
    The narrator is superb.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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