Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)

by Rachel Baker on October 7, 2013

The Guardian’s third book in the 100-week series on the 100 best novels written in English is Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. By the way, the original title is: Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World by Lemuel Gulliver.

In its afterlife as a classic, Gulliver’s Travels works on many levels. First, it’s a masterpiece of sustained and savage indignation, “furious, raging, obscene”, according to Thackeray. Swift’s satirical fury is directed against almost every aspect of early 18th-century life: science, society, commerce and politics. Second, stripped of Swift’s dark vision, it becomes a wonderful travel fantasy for children, a perennial favourite that continues to inspire countless versions, in books and films. Finally, as a polemical tour de force, full of wild imagination, it became a source for Voltaire, as well as the inspiration for a Telemann violin suite, Philip K Dick’s science-fiction story The Prize Ship, and, perhaps most influential of all, George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Book 2 of the series: Robinson Crusoe

Book 1 of the series: The Pilgrims Progress

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