Thursday, 1 September 2016

Review: Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Either. 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Shipwrecked on an unknown island, Lemuel Gulliver wakes to find himself surrounded by its six-inch-tall natives, the Lilliputians. But this is only the first in a long line of wonderful discoveries, as his adventures take him to other far-off lands such as Brobdingnag, populated by a race of giants, Luggnagg, home to the eternally ageingStruldbrugs, and the country of the Houyhnhnms, a race of benevolent talking horses.

Gulliver's Travels is one of those classics that I feel like I should have read already but unlike most other people that I'm seeing we didn't do this at school, we didn't do all that many classics actually, so I never got around to reading it! It's mentioned in a few books I read, most recently Summer Shadows by Joss Stirling, and I figured the time was right to read it and I got this stunning edition from Alma Classics! It's no secret I'm completely in love with their classics, the covers are always gorgeous and they have extensive notes in the back, along with lots of information about the author and their life which I always find an interesting read. 

The notes for this edition where pretty handy because there where a lot of bits that I was looking at like "I have no idea what that is/what that means" and the notes helped me out as well as providing context for the book! I found the book to be really interesting, especially as around the time this was written, there was a lot of exploration of the world going on and that had already gone on, son on the one hand this is a parody of all those travel books/journals that where popular at the time, but on the other it was an interesting angle for me to read with because I figured the general vibe of people would have been wondering what strange lands and creatures would be found next which is the part of this that made me think it was actually a children's book until I started to actually read it. 

On a more deeper note, this is fantastically satirical and I thought it gave a nice insight in to how things where at the time, when you looked at what the author was getting at. Not that it isn't still relevant today, particularly the anti-war points, one of the passages I quite liked with the King being aghast at gunpowder. I also found the passage about the Lilliputians custom of burying the dead upside down quite funny, a jab at traditions being held for longer than is really necessary! There's plenty of other points, political, legal and so on, throughout the book that gave you an idea for the climate of the time. 

I actually wasn't sure how this was going to go for me, I was expecting it to be a lot harder to read language wise than it actually was, now I'm not saying it's badly written, I'm just saying I figured it would be a lot harder to get through than it was. But while the language wasn't hard to read, the writing was kind of...bland. Bleh. Meh. Whatever you wanna use. 

It was funny, satirical and I loved the letters at the beginning of the book and the notes explaining there purpose, that made Gulliver seem as real as possible. I enjoyed sailing the seas, and finding these new lands but it wasn't for me, the most gripping of reads. I also didn't realise until I saw someone's review that...there's no dialogue in this? I don't know, it obviously didn't really register with me, but that's probably a contribution to the bland. There wasn't really any character development or story to get engrossed in. 

I also didn't really like how the book ended, I feel like I'm going to be lynched for saying this about a classics, but I actually found it getting really interesting at the end when Gulliver returns and he's adjusting after spending time with the Houyhnhnm, and I was kind of hoping to see more of that and I felt like it was left a bit too open to interpretation which was at odds with the whole thing where the author threw a load of opinions at us for the entire book, if you can even understand what I'm trying to say.  I'm also well aware that I probably missed some of the author's critiques, most likely because I either didn't pick up on them or they just didn't mean much to me so I didn't see them for what they where, which is more my fault than the authors, let's be honest! 


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