Gulliver's giant feet walking in the diminuative forest of the lilliputians

Gulliver's Travels

by Jonathan Swift

Start Free Trial


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Bloom, Harold, ed. Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels.” New York: Chelsea House, 1986. A collection of criticism from the second half of the twentieth century, arranged in chronological order. Essays range from investigations of philosophical context and literary genre to psychoanalytic and deconstructionist approaches.

Brady, Frank, ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of “Gulliver’s Travels”: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1968. A selection of essays examining the philosophical, religious, and scientific background of the work. Examines the literary sources and traditions the book reflects.

Carnochan, W. B. Lemuel Gulliver’s Mirror for Man. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968. Relates Swift’s satiric intention to the epistemology of John Locke to illustrate his theory of Augustan satire. An epilogue examines how Gulliver’s Travels anticipates later satirists Lewis Carroll, James Joyce, and Vladimir Nabokov.

Erskine-Hill, Howard. Jonathan Swift: “Gulliver’s Travels.” Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993. A concise, accessible introduction. Final chapter surveys the work’s influence on fiction from Herman Melville to Nathaniel West.

Smith, Frederik N., ed. The Genres of “Gulliver’s Travels.” Newark, N.J.: University of Delaware Press, 1990. A collection of previously unpublished essays, each taking the standpoint of a different literary genre. An afterword suggests how the reader might navigate the work, given the multiplicity of genres it represents. Assumed is the basic indeterminacy of texts.

For Further Reference

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Case, A. E. Four Essays on "Gulliver's Travel's." Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1945. This informative collection is a good place to start for critical essays on Swift. Of special note is the essay, "Personal and Political Satire in Gulliver's Travels."

Foster, Milton P. A Casebook on Gulliver Among the Houyhnhnms. New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1961. A collection of essays that deal with the problematic fourth book.

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels. Edited by Robert A. Greenberg. New York: W. W. Norton, 1970. This is an excellent edition, containing notes on the text, extracts from Swift's correspondence, critical essays, and a bibliography.

Tuveson, Ernest. Swift: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1964. Essays suitable for a more advanced study of Swift and Gulliver's Travels.

Ward, David. Jonathan Swift: An introductory Essay. London: Methuen, 1973. Two essays in this collection are especially helpful: one describes the modes of satire and the other is complete discussion of Gulliver's Travels.

Williams, Kathleen. Swift: The Critical Heritage. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970. Essays suitable for more advanced students of Swift.

Media Adaptations

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

A live-action miniseries Gulliver's Travels was made for television in 1996 by Charles Sturridge from a screenplay by Simon Moore. The film starred Ted Danson as Gulliver, as well as Mary Steenburgen, Peter O'Toole, Ned Beatty, Alfre Woodard, Geraldine Chaplin, Ned Beatty, John Gielgud, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Omar Sharif. Longer and containing more of the book's plot than other film versions of Gulliver's Travels, this version nevertheless takes some big liberties, adding a secondary plot featuring Gulliver's wife (Steenburgen) and son. However, much of Swift's satire is maintained and the special effects are far superior to those in earlier versions (much of the work was done by Jim Henson Productions). Available on two videos from Hallmark Home Entertainment.

The 1939 animated film Gulliver's Travels, directed by Dave Fleischer with screenplay by Dan Gordon, Ted Pierce, Isidore Sparber, and Edmond Seward, featured the voices of Lanny Ross and Jessica Dragonette. Nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Score and Best Song (for the song "Faithful Forever"). The film cuts several episodes from the plot and eliminates most of Swift's satire, but the animation is of exceptionally high quality for the era. Available from Congress Entertainment, Moore Video, and Nostalgia Family Video.

The partially animated Gulliver's Travels (1977), directed by Peter Hung from a screenplay by Don Black, starred Richard Harris (as Gulliver), Catherine Schell, Norman Shelley, and Meredith Edwards, and the voices of Michael Bates and Denis Bryer. The film cuts much from the plot and eliminates most of Swift's satire, making the movie cloying and childish at times. Available from Video Treasures, Hollywood Home Entertainment, and Reader's Digest Home Video.

Containing animation effects from Ray Harryhausen, The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960; also known as The Worlds of Gulliver), was directed by Jack Sher from a screenplay by Arthur Ross and Jack Sher, and starred Kerwin Mathews (as Gulliver), Jo Morrow, and June Thorburn. The film cuts much from the plot, focusing on Gulliver's adventures in Lilliput and Brobdingnag, and adding a character as a love interest for Gulliver. Much of Swift's satire is maintained, however. Available from Columbia Tristar Home Video.

Two animated versions of Gulliver's Travels from 1979 include a short version aimed at children and narrated by Vincent Price, available from AIMS Multimedia on video, and a slightly longer version from Hanna Barbera Productions featuring the voices of Ross Martin and Janet Waldo, available on video from Worldvision Home Video, Inc. and Goodtimes Entertainment.

An unabridged audio reading of Gulliver's Travels, narrated by Norman Dietz, is available on eight cassettes (10 hours, 45 minutes) from Recorded Books, Inc., 1989. Abridged versions include an audio dramatization originally presented on NBC Theater (a radio program), narrated by Henry Hull, available on one cassette from Metacom audio library classics, 1991; and a dramatization read by Ted Danson, available on two cassettes from Simon & Schuster Au-dioworks, 1996.

Bibliography and Further Reading

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share


Erskine-Hill, Howard. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels. (Landmarks of World Literature) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Michael Foote, Introduction to Gulliver's Travels (includes quotes from early reviews), Penguin Books, 1985.

William Hazlitt, "On Swift, Young, Gray, Collins, Etc.," in his Lectures on the English Poets, 1818, reprinted by Oxford University Press, 1924, pp. 160-89.

Samuel Holt Monk, "The Pride of Lemuel Gulliver," in Gulliver's Travels: A Norton Critical Edition, 2nd Edition, edited by Robert A. Greenberg, 1961 and 1970, pp. 312-330.

Probyn, Clive T. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels. (Penguin Critical Series) London: Penguin Books, 1989

Sir Walter Scott, extract from The Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D., Dean of St. Patrick's Dublin: Life of Swift, Vol. 1, 2nd edition, A. Constable & Co., reprinted in Swift: The Critical Heritage, edited by Kathleen Williams, Barnes & Noble, 1970.

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels. Edited by Peter Dixon and John Chalker; with introduction by Michael Foot. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967.

William Makepeace Thackeray, in his English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century, Smith, Elder & Co., 1853, reprinted in his The English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century: The Four Georges, Etc., Macmillan, 1904, pp. 1-32.

Tippett, Brian. Gulliver’s Travels (The Critics Debate). Atlantic Highlands, N.J. Humanities Press International, 1989.

For Further Study

Frank Brady, "Vexations and Diversion: Three Problems in Gulliver's Travels," in Modern Philology: A Journal Devoted to Research in Medieval and Modern Literature, Vol. 75, 1978, pp. 346-367. A good overview of approaches to Gulliver's Travels and an analysis of the humor, the sense of historical degeneration, and Swift's true intentions. A "soft" school interpretation.

Arthur E. Case, "The Significance of Gulliver's Travels," in Four Essays on Gulliver's Travels," Princeton University Press, 1945, pp. 97-126. A critical assessment of the book Gulliver's Travels.

J. A. Downie, "Political Characterization in Gulliver's Travels," in Yearbook of English Studies, Vol. 7, 1977, pp. 108-120. Downie argues against the usual reading of Gulliver's Travels as a political allegory by demonstrating how such a reading fails in all four books.

Jenny Mezciems, "Swift's Praise of Gulliver: Some Renaissance Background to the Travels," in The Character of Swift's Satire: A Revised Focus, edited by Claude Rawson, University of Delaware Press, 1983, pp. 245-281. A discussion of how Swift used Renaissance genres to write his book.

Frank Palmeri, Critical Essays on Jonathan Swift, G. K. Hall, 1993, pp. 1-10.

A useful collection of essays about Swift, his historical context, and major themes and techniques in his work, including Gulliver's Travels. Palmeri's introduction offers a very fine historical overview of criticism about Swift.

Ricardo Quintana, “Gulliver's Travels: Sine Structural Properties and Certain Questions of Critical Approach and Interpretation," in The Character of Swift's Satire: A Revised Focus, edited by Claude Rawson, University of Delaware Press, 1983, pp. 282-304. An excellent summary of formal and interpretive issues and a discussion of the main interpretations to date.

Edward J. Rielly, editor, Approaches to Teaching Swift's Gulliver's Travels, The Modern Language Association of America, 1988. An extremely useful guide, containing descriptions of materials for teaching the text, discussions of different methods for introducing students to the issues in the work, examinations of several themes and issues, and a survey of assignments and syllabi to be used in conjunction with the book.

Richard H. Rodino, “‘Splendide Mendax': Authors, Characters, and Readers in Gulliver's Travels," in PMLA: Publication of the Modern Language Association of America, Vol. 106, No. 5, 1991, pp. 1054-1070. A study of Gulliver and his relationship with language, writing, and readers to explain how the book can support both the hard and the soft interpretations.

Pat Rogers, "Introduction," Gulliver's Travels (includes quotes from early reviews), Everyman's Library Edition, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1991. An overview of the history of Gulliver's Travels, its writing, influences on it, and critical responses to it.

Peter J. Schakel, editor, Critical Approaches to Teaching Swift, AMS Press, 1992. A collection of essays that model different critical approaches to reading Jonathan Swift's work. There are several essays on Gulliver's Travels and a bibliography for teachers.

Frederik N. Smith, "Vexing Voices: The Telling of Gulliver's Story," in Papers on Language and Literature: A Journal for Scholars and Critics of Language and Literature, Vol. 21, No. 4, 1985, pp. 383-398. Smith examines the relationship between Jonathan Swift and Lemuel Gulliver, questioning whether we should read Gulliver as a spokesman for Swift.

Frederik N. Smith, editor, The Genres of Gulliver's Travels, University of Delaware Press, 1990. A collection of essays discussing the influence of different eighteenth-century genres, such as travel narratives and the novel, on the work.

Paul Turner, Introduction to Gulliver's Travels (includes quotes from early reviews), Oxford University Press, 1986. A helpful overview of the work.

J. K. Welcher, "Gulliver in the Market Place," in Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, Vol. 217, 1983, pp. 125-139. Welcher describes the book's bestseller status in the eighteenth century, and examines the way capitalism appears in the story.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Historical and Social Context