Almost three hundred years ago - in 1726 - Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift, was published in England. It is considered one of the greatest pieces of satire ever written, comparable even to some of William Shakespeare's works. George Orwell was so impressed with Jonathan Swift's writings - especially Gulliver's Travels - that he used them as models for his own writing. Animal Farm and 1984 are Orwell's attempts to be as clear and creative as his literary hero.

I recently read Gulliver's Travels - all four parts - for the first time. Prior to that I had only read the first part, ie Gulliver's travels to Lilliput, the land of the little people. The illustration above was drawn by Charles E. Brock and is taken from a children's version that I own. It's the same one that was used in an 1894 edition of the book.

Jonathan Swift, speaking through Gulliver, says that he is writing from the perspective of a truth seeker and truth sayer attempting to expose the good and evil done by and to humans. He sums it up in the final paragraphs of Part 4, Chapter 12:

"THUS, GENTLE READER, I have given thee a faithful History of my Travels for Sixteen Years, and above Seven Months; wherein I have not been so studious of Ornament as Truth. I could perhaps like others have astonished you with strange improbable Tales; but I rather chose to relate plain Matter of Fact in the simplest Manner and Style, because my principal Design was to Inform, and not to amuse thee. ...A Traveller's chief Aim should be to make Men wiser and better, and to improve their Minds by the bad as well as good Example of what they deliver concerning foreign Places. ...I imposed on myself as a Maxim, never to be swerved from, that I would strictly adhere to Truth; neither indeed can I be ever under the least temptation to vary from it. ... My sole Intention was the PUBLICK GOOD. ...I meddle not with any Party, but write without Passion, Prejudice, or Ill-will against any Man or number of Men whatsoever. I write for the noblest End, to inform and instruct Mankind. ...I hope I may with Justice pronounce myself an Author perfectly blameless, against whom the Tribes of Answerers, Considerers, Observers, Reflecters, Detecters, Remarkers will never be able to find matter for exercising their Talents. ...I here take a final Leave of all my Courteous Readers. ..."

Having discovered some of the wisdom to be found in Gulliver's Travels I am taking this opportunity to share those excerpts with Orwell Today readers. This is a developing section that will be added to as time goes by.

All the best,
Jackie Jura, 2004

1984coverReilly Pg90Reilly 1984: Past, Present and Future, by Patrick Reilly (...How could one fail to detect the influence of GULLIVER'S TRAVELS on 1984? It is so massively present, in part and in whole, in individual incident and in overall structure, in detail and in ground plan. The TRAVELS have a paradigmatic import for the later book, providing a kind of template, a grid for plotting the parallel course of Winston's experience...)

Reader Tuba asks how to cite Orwell Today as a source on a research paper about Gulliver's Travels


ORWELL INTERVIEWS JOHNATHAN SWIFT (reader discovers imaginary BBC interview)

1. GULLIVER ON GOVERNMENT (a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, banishments)

2. GULLIVER ON BOMBS & WAR (some evil genius, enemy to mankind, must have been the first contriver)

3. GULLIVER ON CONSPIRACIES (workmanship of persons who desire to raise their own characters)

4. GULLIVER ON LEGAL SYSTEM (art of proving by words that white is black and black is white)

5. GULLIVER ON MONEY & TRADE (rich man enjoys fruit of poor man's labour)

6. GULLIVER ON MEDICINE (imaginary diseases, imaginary cures)

7. GULLIVER ON INTELLECTUALS (head reclined to right or left, one eye inward, the other up)

8. GULLIVER ON GM AGRICULTURE (extracting sun-beams out of cucumbers; condensing air into tangible substance)

9. GULLIVER ON ARTIFICIAL LEARNING (most ignorant person may write books)

10. GULLIVER ON PROSTITUTE WRITERS (they falsify history)

11. GULLIVER DESCRIBES YAHOOS (a degenerate & brutal nature)

GulliverLanda GulliverOriginal GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, edited by Louis Landa (...Swift had in mind a larger liberation, not merely political, but a freeing of the human mind from error and the human spirit from baseness...)

GulliverVanDoren GulliverPg202 SWIFT, edited by Carl Van Doren (best essays, poems, letters, journals and complete Gulliver's Travels)

Jackie Jura
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