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Editorial 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.

Public Domain (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

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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

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  • Emily
  • Mount Macedon, Australia
  • 06-29-13

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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  • Janae
  • Pearland, Texas, United States
  • 01-04-13

Interesting and thought provoking.

Would you listen to Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce again? Why?

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.

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

When Gulliver left his Houyhnhnm Master.

Which scene was your favorite?

1) When Gulliver left Glundalclitch.<br/>2) When Gulliver left his Houyhnhnm Master.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Made me think about how Swift unfolded his idea that Humans are not suppose to know everything.

Any additional comments?

Now I know what it means when someone is called a YaHoo.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant Performance of a timeless classic

Where does Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of the best audiobook performances I have had the pleasure to listen to.

What did you like best about this story?

The story is timeless - and I've read it many times. All four of Gulliver's travels make for great reading.

Which character – as performed by David Hyde Pierce – was your favorite?

All of them. He does a really great job.

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

When he realizes that humans are closer to base animals than creatures of reason.

Any additional comments?

David Hyde Pierce's voice is perfect for the role.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Lenny
  • Methuen, MA, United States
  • 12-25-12

Four Remarkable Journeys!

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Trueth
  • United States
  • 11-13-12

LOL @ David Hyde Pierce. Great Narration.

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dona
  • Hamilton, Australia
  • 09-30-12

Classic Reading of a Classic Story

David Hyde Pierce did a fabulous narration of this classic book. I read about half of Gulliver's Travels when I was in college and was pleased to have finally read the book in its entirety. A real insight into political and moral issues as seen by Swift.
Sad that most people will know about Gulliver's first two adventures, but not the rest. Pierce's reading of the Houyhnhnms' language is fantastic. I don't think I would have enjoyed reading this neighing language, but he brings it to life.
A must read for classic enthusiasts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

I've always loved the story of Gulliver' Travels, having fallen in love with a movie version as a young child.

But I hadn't read the book in ages. The story is still great, but David Hyde Pierce's narration is nigh perfect. He has a great combination of arrogance, dry sarcasm, and moments of obsequiousness that the story calls for.

He also does an excellent job pronouncing all those made up words. I would've been reduced to giggle fits.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • andrew
  • Bountiful, UT, United States
  • 07-14-12

Spectacular Reading

Tried this book in grade school! Wasn't I precocious? Finally came back and must say this is a great way to experience it. Hyde Pierce is the only narrator to try. He outshines every other option on this or I am sure, any other site. He is perfect in the role and I thank him for his glorius performance. The book gets wearisome near the end, going on a bit long, but I listened almost straight through in 2 sittings, which is a little rare for me. Funny and witty and entertaining. A wholly original idea in its time I expect and one that creators of every kind are still ripping off hundreds of years later. Must have caused a sensation when it came out and rightly so. Still, this will come off as dry to many who do not like older books or subtle styles of humor. Its not hit you in the face with a fish funny or anything. The jokes don't pinch you, you have to pay attention and think a little.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Classic

What did you love best about Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce?

This performance is done in great style, and it makes you believe, that there is actually a man telling his own story about his adventures, not an actor performing.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The author/narrator, his wit and genuine emotions make him truly alive.

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

David Hyde Pierce narrates the story as genuine as a real adventurer would be telling it to his friends. Not to mention he has a great voice!

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

The last part of the book where Gulliver meets horse-like creatures and describes their most human way of living.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful