Do you agree with the view about Gulliver's third voyage to Laputa in Gulliver's Travels:Swift attacks the very foundations of rationalism and advocates romanticism more clearly than anywhere else?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am not entirely ready to concede that Swift is advocating full fledged Romanticism.  A follower of Romanticism would not resort to satire in convincing others of their advocacy, for Romanticism operated under a bold declaration of ideas and beliefs and not subversive messages that were subterranean.  I do think that his critique of the Laputans does possess some distinct anti- Enlightenment tendencies.  His mocking of the over-reliance of science as well as the notion that science needs to be restrained to those who have power and not for any pragmatic or practical use is Romantic in tone.  Gulliver's feelings in contrasting the leader of the Laputans, who care nothing for personal experience and only for rationality and scientific product, and the leader of the Brobdingnags, who is more concerned with the subjective experience, are also Romantic, in nature.  Yet, I think that Swift is attempting to articulate a condition that is reflective of his spiritual beliefs in the condition of Man as one who has sinned, born with original sin.  This is not Romantic, in any way, and part of the reason why I think that while Swift might be articulating a condition that is anti- Enlightenment, it might be too quick to call him a Romantic, despite the fact that tendencies are present.

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Gulliver's Travels

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