Select Background & Text

Gulliver's Travels


C.E Brock illustration for Gulliver's Travels depicting ...He desired I would stand like a Colossus, with my legs as far asunder as I conveniently could. He then commanded his general (who was an old experienced leader, and a great patron of mine) to draw up the troops in close order, and march them under me; the foot by twenty-four abreast, and the horse by sixteen, with drums beating, colours flying, and pikes advanced.

He desired I would stand like a Colossus, with my legs as far asunder as I conveniently could. He then commanded his general (who was an old experienced leader, and a great patron of mine) to draw up the troops in close order, and march them under me; the foot by twenty-four abreast, and the horse by sixteen, with drums beating, colours flying, and pikes advanced.

by Jonathan Swift

Illustrated By J. J. Grandville

Gulliver's Travels


The life of Swift is a subject full of interest and instruction for all who are disposed to meditate on the vicissitudes which form the destiny of men distinguished by their talents and their fame.
    Jonathan Swift was born (November 30, 1667) in Dublin in a little house in Hoey's Court, which the inhabitants of that quarter point out to this day.

    When Swift entered Trinity College in Dublin in 1682 he was required to pursue the regular courses of study of that era, which included several that were very ill suited to his nature. Logic, then reputed to be the science par excellence, was recommended to him in vain: he had an innate repugnance for the sophisms of Smiglecius, Keckermannus, Burgersdicius, and other weighty savants whom we scarcely know today.

    In 1688, when Swift was 21, war broke out in Ireland. Without money or friends, he left college and Duhlin and went to England where he joined his mother. On her advice he sought and received the patronage of Sir William Temple, an accomplished diplomat and man of letters, to whom the

Swift family had ties of kinship and service. Swift eventually became Temple's highly valued private secretary. Temple showed his great trust in Swift by permitting him to be present during confidential meetings with King William III, with whom Temple was on close terms. When Temple was confined to his bed by gout, it was Swift who was charged with accompanying the King, and all the biographers of the

writer have repeated that King William offered him a company of horse, and taught him to cut asparagus in the Dutch manner. It would not be proper to pass over in silence the advantages he gained, from the King's example, of eating this vegetable a La Hollandaise, that is to say, from eating the asparagus whole, tip, stalk, and all.

    Swift returned temporarily to Ireland in 1694 where he was ordained in the Anglican Church. While there he also formed an attachment with the sister of a college friend, Jane

Waring, whom he called, in a rather cool poetic conceit, Varina. She rejected his proposal of marriage, and when she changed her mind four years later, he answered in a harsh tone which it would be unjust to judge severely.

    Following the death of Sir William Temple in 1699 and, disappointed in his ambitions for preferment in England, Swilt had to return to Ireland again. Soon after, he brought to Ireland as companion the daughter of Temple's steward, the cherished friend he called Stella. Evidently they were secretly married at her insistence in 1716, upon his condition that the marriage remain secret. Stella continued with the same circumspection as before, to prevent any suspicion of intimacy, remaining his close and cherished friend. With her companion Miss Dingley she kept his house, did the honors at his table while appearing to be only a guest, was his faithful companion, but his wife in name only, and even this mar- riage was a secret from the world.
    Swift was named Dean of St. Patrick's in Dublin in 1713. After years of disappointed expectations in England, Swift considered this position at best, as he often said, an honor- able exile.

    The plan of the satire in Gulliver's Travels varies in its different parts. The Voyage to Lilliput is an allusion to the court and politics of England: Sir Robert Walpole is portrayed in

the personage of the first minister Flimnap; and he never forgave Swift for it, constantly opposing any scheme that would have brought the Dean to England.
    In the Voyage to Brobdingnag the satire is of a more general application. The contrast between Gulliver's arrival in Lilliput, where he was a giant, and among a race next to whom he is no more than a pygmy is striking.

    The Voyage to Laputa certainly contains references to the most esteemed thinkers of the time. It is even claimed that there is an arrow aimed at Sir Isaac Newton, that the incident of the tailor who after calculating Gulliver's height with a quadrant and taking his measurements with mathematical instruments, brings him badly made clothes which don't fit, refers to the error of a printer who added a figure to Newton's calculation of the distance between the sun and the earth and thereby augmented it to an incalculable degree. Swift's friends also believed that the idea of the Flapper was suggested by Newton's habitual absentmindedness.

    The Voyage to the Houyhnhnms is a severe diatribe against human nature; it could have been inspired only by

the indignation which as Swift acknowledged in his epitaph, had for so long lacerated his breast. Despite the hatred which inspired it, the character of the Yahoos offers a moral lesson. It is not man as he is enlightened by religion nor even as he is naturally, that Swift wished to portray; it is man degraded by the willing enslavement of his intellect and his instincts, for the man who abandons himself to brustish sensuality, to
    cruelty, to greed, comes near to being a Yahoo. The observations of Gulliver are ne.ier more acute or more profound than those of a captain of a merchant ship, or of a London surgeon, who has made an ocean voyage.

    Robinson Crusoe, recounting events much closer to reality, is perhaps not superior to Gulliver in the gravity and verisimilitude of his narrative. In the writing of fiction, Swift possessed to a supreme degree the art of giving reality to characters and situations by the use of minute details, which is also the secret of the art of Daniel Defoe.

    The fame of Gulliver's Travels quickly spread to Europe. Voltaire, who was in England at the time, praised the book to his friends in France and urged them to translate it. The Abbe Desfontaines undertook the translation. His misgivings, fears, and apologies are consigned to a strange introduction which gives a very clear idea of the mind and opinions of a French man of letters at the time. Despite his pretense of good taste and delicacy, his translation is pass- able.

    Swift was rather short of stature, robust, and well proportioned. He had blue eyes, a dark complexion, thick dark brows, a slightly aquiline nose, and features which expressed

    all the severity, pride, and boldness of his character. In his youth he was considered a very handsome man, and in age his face, though stern, was noble and impressive.
    Swift was received everywhere with the marks of the deepest respect. He used to say that there ought to be a subscription to keep him in hats, since his were so quickly worn out in returning all the greetings made to him.

    [Note by the Editors of the French Edition] Swift expended, in the service of the circumstances into which he was thrown, a talent worthy of better usage and more durable success; and among the numerous and remarkable productions of the Rabelais of England, as
    Voltaire dubbed him, his Gulliver is the only book destined to live in posterity. Indeed one work of such greatness is enough to establish a reputation of the first rank.


The text for "Gulliver's Travels", by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was first published in London in 1726, this book is based on The Authoritative text, of the 1735 edition published by George Faulkner in Dublin.
The illustrations are by J.J Grandville(1767-1854) which where first published in 1838 by Henri Fournier in Paris.
The Color Frontpiece is by C.E Brock

This Book is for sale

Book cover image
If you are interested in purchasing this book or just have some questions
please send me a E-mail

Send an Email to or click on this link