Gulliver’s Travels can be a different book to different people: a ripping yarn, a social satire, a parody of a travelogue as a literary form, or a children’s fantasy. In calling on the talent of David Hyde Pearce as narrator, the publishers have gone for the satirical angle: his hilarious performance brings out the text’s sly digs at European social, political, and religious mores, as well as his perpetual air of injured pride. (His delivery of the line “the malice of a Dutchman” is worth the price of the audiobook alone.) His tendency to pomposity and misplaced noblesse oblige serves to highlight Swift’s exploration of the gap between how we view ourselves and our actual behavior. Here, Pearce is merely drawing on the inherent comedy in the disparity between the earnestness of the text and its subject: witness the passage where Gulliver puts out a fire in the Lilliputian royal residence “by urine, which I voided in such a quantity, and applied so well to the proper places, that in three minutes the fire was wholly extinguished, and the rest of that noble pile, which had cost so many ages in erecting, preserved from destruction”.
In the book’s topsy-turvy world, Irish-born Swift holds up a funhouse mirror to the foibles of the Old World in all its social divisions, constant warring, religious strife, and political bickering. The modernity of his arguments (no less than the bite of his wit) is bracing. Although the first half of Gulliver’s Travels stands as its strongest, covering what most of us remember when we think of the book, there is much to relish throughout, particularly since Pearce’s performance creates a tangible character that the listener will want to stick with, in all his vainglorious pride and increasing misfortunes. This is a perfect example of a sympathetic marriage between voice and text reanimating a classic. Dafydd Phillips
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.
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Public Domain (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"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)
Timeless humor made me laugh out loud (rather awkward at the gym).
The quality of the recording was great. David Hyde Pierce made a great reader.
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.
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.
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'.
I am a college student that enjoys leisurely listening between studying. I most enjoy books involving mystery, conspiracy, and adventure.
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.
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.
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.
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'd always heard that Gulliver's Travels was one of the great satiric works of English literature, but if that's the case, I don't really understand the word. I had always thought satire was a gentle, humourous, and sometimes even affectionate skewering of the status quo, but this book is actually often rather angry and ham-fisted. Then again, sometimes it is humourous to the point of almost being farcical. Either way, it's not the children's book that some might be expecting.
Regardless of whether I'd call it satire, I did enjoy it - and I'm glad I listened to it rather than read it, as I think some of the language would have made it a very difficult read. It's a classic for many reasons, and it is referenced time and time again in popular culture, in whole or in part. Many know the basics of the 4 travel stories that make up this book - one to a land of miniature people, one to a land of gigantic people, one to a land led by a floating city with emphasis on math and music, and one to a land of rationality and reason presided over by equines, not humans. Mostly, I believed they allowed Swift an opportunity to lampoon all the parts of his society that he wished to insult, but in a more acceptable manner than shouting it out on street corners.
David Hyde Pierce did a wonderful job, not only in making some of the imaginary language understandable rather than distracting, but also in making the events seem more plausible than they otherwise might be in print and in making the sometimes long and drawn-out descriptions more palatable. Sadly, it took a while before I stopped thinking of Niles Crane narrating a story with his brother as the protagonist, but that fault is solely my own and not a problem with his narration.
My expectations were that this was a children's story. I was surprised to find out that it is not. It is actually a sitcom intended for an adult audience if you think about it. And some of the bits could be quite funny if they were written in a modern style.
"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.
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
"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.
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