As a product of an age that celebrated reason and was then apt to think of life as a comedy, Gulliver’s Travels, it should not go unsaid, is frequently funny. As an Irishman born in Dublin, Dean Swift of St. Patricks Episcopal Cathedral was inclined to blame the Whig administration in London for Irelands social ills. Satire is the outsiders mode, and Swift here uses and makes fun of the popular, first-person, sea voyage account. William Dampiers books of the late seventeenth century had been extremely successful in establishing the genre. Daniel Defoe had published the successful Robinson Crusoe in 1719, seven years before Swifts book appeared. Swift supported Irish aspirations for freedom from English domination and published his equally incendiary The Drapiers Letters anonymously in 1724. The Anglican clergyman in him also appreciated that some moral rearmament must accompany any political solution. It is this moral dimension, this focus on humankinds universal propensity to delude itself, that is the main appeal of the work for subsequent generations of readers, for whom the machinations of eighteenth century Westminster politicians mean very little.
Swift deliberately sets up Gullivers voyages in a realistic voyage framework. He provides maps of the voyages, complete with decorative, tiny, spouting whale drawings just like real maps. He also mixes actual places (Japan and Sumatra) with the imaginary.
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