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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on November 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Gulliver's Travels, , ,   

    YOU NEED TO READ SWIFT TO GET UP TO SPEED 

    I don’t recall how old I was — probably no later than my early teens — when I first read Jonathan Swift’s satirical masterpiece Gulliver’s Travels; all I know is it made a lasting impression on my unworldly-wise perception of the world. If you haven’t read the book, this summary will at least give you the bare bones:

    Several films have been made based on the novel; here is the trailer for the version I remember seeing (the book was what made me think; the movie served as entertaining afterthought):

    JONATHAN SWIFT, born this day (Nov. 30) in 1667 in Dublin, led a multi-faceted life between Ireland and England (his place of residence often depended on events beyond his control). For the meaty details of  his life, you might consider taking time to go Googling; here, I offer a dozen of his quotes, the first two of which are from Gulliver’s Travels:

    Based on Gulliver’s descriptions of their behavior, the King describes Europeans as “the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.

    The tiny Lilliputians surmise that Gulliver’s watch may be his God, because it is that which, he admits, he seldom does anything without consulting.

    When the world has once begun to use us ill, it afterwards continues to use the same treatment with less scruple or ceremony, as men do to a whore.

    I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.

    Words are the clothing of our thoughts.

    Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect: like a man who hath thought of a good repartee when the company departed.

    Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well deceived.

    We of this age have discovered a shorter, and more prudent method to become scholars and wits, without the fatigue of reading or of thinking.

    We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

    I wonder what fool it was that first invented kissing.

    It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

    Nothing is so hard for those who  abound in riches as to conceive how others can be in want.

    Almost 300 years have passed since Swift completed Gulliver’s Travels, and the world still doesn’t seem to have gotten the word. Too bad.

     
    • calmkate 1:00 am on November 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      yes I always thought he was profound beyond measure … these quotes perfectly demonstrate that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 1:56 am on November 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Among other things, he was a clergyman, but wasn’t above criticizing religion (as shown by one of the quotes). Now there’s a man you can have faith in!

        Liked by 2 people

    • obbverse 2:52 am on November 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      ‘Words are the clothing of our thoughts’, that’s a wonderful quote.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:33 am on November 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        I agree — but I think we should take it cautiously, in the sense that judging someone by how they dress would require a perfect judge, and none of us are that (except me — ha ha).

        Like

    • Rivergirl 4:12 pm on November 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Sadly, there are some lessons we never learn….

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:54 pm on November 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        It must be something in the air. If we’d all stop breathing, maybe people would stop killing and doing other bad things to each other.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Elizabeth 6:05 pm on November 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      The essay by Swift that always got to my students was “A Modest Proposal.” It is pretty timely again too, given the attitude towards struggling refugees world wide at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 1:18 am on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        I’m against eating poor children, as modestly (and satirically) proposed by Swift, but I’m not opposed to eating the likes of Donald Trump by anyone who has the stomach for it.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Silver Screenings 6:26 pm on November 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Wow – three hundred years old! And as timely as ever.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Silver Screenings 8:53 am on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Haha! I nearly spewed my morning cup o’ tea on the keyboard when I read your reply.

      Liked by 1 person

    • JosieHolford 5:16 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      It’s a brilliant skewering of all our pretensions and hypocrisies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:14 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Indeed it is….and after thousands of years of human history, my guess is that if we haven’t shed our pretensions and hypocrises by now, we never will.

        Like

    • magickmermaid 6:07 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Seems like there are quite a few descendants of the Yahoos in today’s world 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Richard A Cahill 9:01 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Everyone was required to read Gulliver’s Travels in my high school days, and they should be again Sr. Muse. That’s a modest proposal.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:07 pm on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        I agree, Ricardo — or at least watch the movie, for those who have made it to high school unable to read.

        Like

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Gulliver's Travels, , , , , lawyers, , November 30, , , punning, , , ,   

    30 NOVEMBER — TO THE SWIFT 

    As 3o days hath the month of November,
    Today marks the end of a month to remember.
    Swift doth the day pass into December,
    Ere the twain shall meet….in a glowing ember.

    The above is my Lilliputian ode to two literary giants who were born on this day: Jonathan Swift  in 1667, Mark Twain in 1835. This post celebrates the former, the latter having been extolled in a post one year ago today (THE UNIVERSAL MARK TWAIN).

    Jonathan Swift’s pièce de résistance, of course, was GULLIVER’S TRAVELS, a book I gobbled up when about 12 years old (in an abridged version for children), and still own. However, at that age I didn’t fully appreciate that it was much more than a grand adventure tale — it’s also a masterpiece of parody and social/political satire, as exemplified by the enmity between the empires of Lilliput and Blefuscu over which end of an egg should be broken first before being eaten — a conflict which put Gulliver in the middle between the Big Endians and the Small Endians. Well, I suppose that makes just as much sense as real people fighting over whose god is the Big Enchilada.

    Let us turn now to three quotations from the unabridged GULLIVER’S TRAVELS:

    Here commences a new dominion acquired with a title by divine right. Ships are sent with the first opportunity; the natives driven out or destroyed; their princes tortured to discover their gold; a free license give to all acts of inhumanity and lust, the earth reeking with the blood of its inhabitants: and this execrable crew of butchers, employed in so pious an expedition, is a modern colony, sent to convert an idolatrous and barbarous people.

    The tiny Lilliputians surmise that Gulliver’s watch may be his god, because it is that which, he admits, he seldom does anything without consulting.

    It is a maxim among these lawyers, that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again: and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind. These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions; and the judges never fail of decreeing accordingly.

    I close with three more Swift quotes, the last of which I intend to inscribe on a club to beat anyone who would disparage my stunning cunning punning:

    When the world has once begun to use us ill, it afterwards continues the same treatment with less scruple or ceremony, as men do to a whore.

    Words are the clothing of our thoughts.

    Punning is a talent which no man affects to despise except he that is without it.

     

    –30–

     

     
    • linnetmoss 7:26 am on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      If only there were more authors with the wit of these two! Love the quote about punning 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 1:34 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Both seem to have had much in common as to how they viewed their fellow man, though I gather Swift was regarded as even more of a misanthrope than Twain. In any case, is there really much difference between a realist and a misanthrope, other than a matter of degree? 😦 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 7:59 am on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      People are ambitious. They come up with rationales as they go or afterwards.

      Like

      • mistermuse 1:47 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Right you are, Don — though I wouldn’t confine coming up with rationales just to the ambitious. For example, I have no problem coming up with rationales for being a couch potato on Sundays, because, as I tell my wife, watching football keeps me out of trouble.

        Like

    • arekhill1 10:23 am on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Substitute “women” for “eggs” and the passions of the Small Endians regarding the Big Endians become more understandable. Is this what Swift really meant?

      Like

      • mistermuse 2:13 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Well, given the Swift quote about how men treat a whore, it appears he was able to put himself in a woman’s place and see things from her viewpoint. He was, after all, a priest in the Church of Ireland (a branch of the Anglican Church), which afforded him somewhat more latitude (in theory) than if he’d been a Catholic priest.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 8:24 pm on November 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You’re not a Psychopath Muse, who sees people as objects that just need to be swept out of the way on your way to wherever and whatever. Perhaps on the way to the greater good.

      Like

    • mistermuse 12:14 am on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Don, I’m probably more of a muse-anthrope — but whatever I am….

      Like

    • Jane 12:54 am on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I also loved Gulliver’s Travels as a child (the abridged version). It was only much later in life I understood that there was more to it than a children’s story. I must admit I have never read the unabridged version so thank you for sharing some of it along with your thoughts. Just a comment on abridged versions. I read so many as a child and they were a great way to introduce me gently and enjoyably to many great authors and playwrights. Reading Shakespeare’s plays as a book of stories with pictures as a child was great preparation for being able to understand his works later.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:57 am on December 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I appreciate your comment. I didn’t appreciate Shakespeare until later because I wasn’t “properly” introduced to him as a child. But, as they say, all good things come to those who wait (if you live long enough, which, fortunately, I have).

      Like

    • Outlier Babe 10:50 am on February 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I have read the unabridged version but see I must go back and not only do so again, but again annually or so. Will buy a copy. Hadn’t read “Travels” since college. Decades later, I’m slower–less swift 😉 –but more patient. That makes me smart enough now to read Swift properly.

      (Aspie ego-saving non-sequiter: I was always smart enough to read Twain properly.)

      I like your posts so far, Muse-Man. Maybe I’ll read some more some time. If I’ve got nothin’ better to do.

      –O. Babe

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:15 pm on February 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      That makes two of us, O. Babe, but I hope to read more of your posts sooner rather than….well, as soon as possible after researching, writing and editing my next post on Feb. 10 (I’m cursed with being something of a perfectionist, so it takes me a few days put it all together & get it – hopefully – right).

      Like

  • mistermuse 12:00 pm on March 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Book of Kells, , , Gulliver's Travels, Importance of Being Earnest, , , , , , , , satiric masterpieces, St. Patrick, ,   

    DON’T BLAME ME — I’M IRISH (PART FOUR) 

    I contemplated concluding this four-part series with thoughts and reminisences on my tour of the Emerald Isle some thirty years ago, but I have so many fond memories that I lack the time, and perhaps the words, to do them justice. Besides, recounting personal vacation trips is a dubious proposition of boring potential at best, so I’ll spare you (and me) the task, and go instead with a few swigs of St. Patrick’s Day trivia and a wee bit of Irish Lit, writ and wit.

    Let’s start with St. Patrick himself. One might assume that St. Patricks Day is celebrated on March 17 because that’s his birthday, but in fact, his exact birth date is unknown. March 17 is the day he died (in the year 461).

    The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in NYC on March 17, 1762. For more on this and other things Irish, click on these short video clips:

    http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day/videos/nyc

    As for Irish Lit, one of the earliest surviving manuscripts is the painstakingly crafted and astonishingly beautiful Book of Kells (circa 800), which I had the pleasure of viewing at Dublin’s Trinity College Library. See for yourself at:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kells

    Ireland, of course, has produced some of the greatest satirists and masterpieces of wit in history, including Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest), George Bernard Shaw (Pygmalion, on which My Fair Lady is based), and John Millington Synge (The Playboy of the Western World). Excellent movies (and some not-so-excellent re-makes) have been made of all, and I close with a quote or a clip from each:

    The tiny Lilliputians surmise that Gulliver’s watch may be his God, because it is that which, he admits, he seldom does anything without consulting.  –Gulliver’s Travels (1939)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eymdx4xomM  –The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EADz07k_wXU  –Pygmalion (1938)

    …if it’s a poor thing to be lonesome, it’s worse maybe to go mixing with the fools of earth.  –The Playboy of the Western World (1962)

    May this St. Patrick’s Day find you neither lonesome nor with the fools of earth.

     
    • arekhill1 1:45 pm on March 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Been years since I read the Playboy of the Western World. thanks for reminding me of it.

      Like

    • mistermuse 4:07 pm on March 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I own a two-record (33 1/3 rpm) box set of the play recorded by Cyril Cusack (who played the playboy) Productions of Dublin in 1955. The accompanying booklet relates how the play’s first performance in Dublin in 1907 caused a riot because, as the Irish Times wrote, “the majority of theatregoers are not accustomed to remoreless truth.” The 1911 American premiere caused “one of the noisiest rows ever seen in a New York theatre.”

      I find it extremely interesting that one of the play’s champions was none other than ex-President Teddy Roosevelt, who wrote that “The little crowd of denaturalized Irishmen who tried to prevent the performance of The Playboy of the Western World by the Irish players in New York City have succeeded in doing precisely what was needed to bring the play to public attention.”

      How much, and yet how little, people and times have changed since then.

      Liked by 1 person

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