Riassunto esame letteratura inglese, Prof. Zuccato, libro consigliato Gulliver's Travels, Swift
written by people who had never left London, so invented things. Enormous
interest for exotic places and new lands.
Original title: “Travel into several remote nations of the world” by Lemuel Gulliver.
The name Gulliver didn’t appear in the first title.
He was a surgeon, a physician and after a captain. Swift told us this fact because
he cared about the body, he was a physician and because he had the approach of
a surgeon, he wanted to analyze the society, but doesn’t want to cure mankind.
Gulliver evokes something like gullible (stupido, ti possono prendere in giro) so it
was a strange name. He says diﬀerent things about us, but his names says he is
king of a fool, it is a sort of self defense, rhetorical strategy.
The book is divided into 4 parts\travels. The most famous is the first book: the
voyage to Lilliput. Part two: Voyage to Brobdingnag. Part three: Voyage to Laputa,
Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib and Japan. Part four: a voyage to the country
of Houyhnhnms (special race of horse that behaved like human beings, they were
perfectly reasonable, and other who lived there were “yahoo” monsters who acted
like animals (contraposition of human and animal, the parts are inverted)
Language: in the book there are a few passages about languages, an unusual
reference to diﬀerent languages. Swift created fictional languages for each country,
and underlined the diﬃculties of communication in diﬀerent cultural environments.
P. 28 / 31
Gulliver is in Lilliput and here he’s trying to communicate with the king and
with the lawyer. He tries to speak in every language that he knows, but it’s
impossible to understand or to be understood. After clarifying that he is no
threat to the island, in 3 weeks he is taught the language and once he knows
how to speak, the first thing he asks is “please give me back my liberty.
“His imperial majesty spoke o en to me, and I returned answers: but neither of us
could understand a syllable. There were several of his priests and lawyers present (as
I conjectured by their habits), who were commanded to address themselves to me;
and I spoke to them in as many languages as I had the least smattering of, which
were High and Low Dutch, Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and Lingua Franca, but
all to no purpose. […]
…the first words I learnt, were to express my desire ‘that he would please give me my
liberty;’ which I every day repeated on my knees. His answer, as I could comprehend
it, was, ‘that this must be a work of time, not to be thought on without the advice of
his council, and that first I must lumos kelmin pesso desmar lon emposo;”
P. 45 Swift includes also fictional translations of the languages of the various
P. 60 He is referring to the two states that are in this voyage, Lilliput (clearly a
parody of England) and Blefuscu (the enemy island, clearly France). Their
languages diﬀer as much as two languages in Europe. Each one thinks its
Pagina 3 di 19
own language is the most beautiful, the language of my neighbor is horrible.
Like in the real world, there are ambassadors, so the ambassador from
Blefuscu is obliged to speak in Lilliputian because they refuse to learn other
languages. They need a translator to communicate.
“It is to be observed, that these ambassadors spoke to me, by an interpreter, the
languages of both empires differing as much from each other as any two in Europe,
and each nation priding itself upon the antiquity, beauty, and energy of their own
tongue, with an avowed contempt for that of their neighbour;”
P. 65 Here he talks about their strange manner of writing, very peculiar, from one
corner of the paper to the other. He always uses a reference to make fun of
something in England, in this case how the woman wrote at that time.
“I shall say but little at present of their learning, which, for many ages, has
flourished in all its branches among them: but their manner of writing is very
peculiar, being neither from the left to the right, like the Europeans, nor from the
right to the left , like the Arabians, nor from up to down, like the Chinese, but aslant,
from one corner of the paper to the other, like ladies in England.”
P. 105 The giant who finds Gulliver tries to communicate, but once again this is
impossible. The giants voice was very loud and Gulliver shouted in diﬀerent
languages but it didn't work.
“Thee farmer, by this time, was convinced I must be a rational creature. He spoke
often to me; but the sound of his voice pierced my ears like that of a water-mill, yet
his words were articulate enough. I answered as loud as I could in several
languages, and he often laid his ear within two yards of me: but all in vain, for we
were wholly unintelligible to each other.”
P. 106 Gulliver wants to be polite and toast to the lady’s good health in English, but
that makes his guest laugh: even though he believes his language sounds
polite, the eﬀect is diﬀerent, they cannot understand him (example of
The daughter of his mistress became a teacher to him, she was relatively
small and she used him as a toy. She gives him the name of Grildrig to
indicate small measures (means mannikin) and in return he called her
Glumdalclitch (little nurse). The girl is very fond of Gulliver and takes good
care of him.
“She gave me the name of Grildrig, which the family took up, and afterwards the
whole kingdom. The word imports what the Latins call nanunculus, the Italians
homunceletino, and the English mannikin. To her I chiefly owe my preservation in
that country: we never parted while I was there; I called her my Glumdalclitch, or
little nurse; and should be guilty of great ingratitude, if I omitted this honourable
Pagina 4 di 19
mention of her care and affection towards me, which I heartily wish it lay in my
power to requite as she deserves, instead of being the innocent, but unhappy
instrument of her disgrace, as I have too much reason to fear.”
P. 171 Example of how intelligent the giants were, they had a clear masculine and
smooth style, which corresponds to mental and moral clarity. He imagined
that intelligent people use this kind of language.
“Their style is clear, masculine, and smooth, but not florid; for they avoid nothing
more than multiplying unnecessary words, or using various expressions.”
The language of Laputa resembles italian, therefore he responds in Italian
hoping that the sounds will be agreeable to their ears. Although they still
cannot communicate, at least this time the local understand his intentions and
help him. It was quite normal for sailors to know a little bit of all the main
“At length one of them called out in a clear, polite, smooth dialect, not unlike in
sound to the Italian: and therefore I returned an answer in that language,
hoping at least that the cadence might be more agreeable to his ears. Although
neither of us understood the other, yet my meaning was easily known, for the p e o p l e
saw the distress I was in.”
Gulliver meets the king, once again using all the languages he knows. He
orders them to teach Gulliver the language in about 4 hours. People in Laputa
are extremely intelligent, yet they are self-absorbed which is why they use a
flapper (rattle to draw attention when people are too involved in themselves).
In a few days he’s able to learn the language. Talks about the etymology of
the word Laputa
“The king, as far as I could conjecture, asked me several questions, and I addressed
myself to him in all the languages I had. When it was found I could neither understand
nor be understood, I was conducted by his order to an apartment in his palace (this
prince being distinguished above all his predecessors for his hospitality to strangers),
where two servants were appointed to attend me.”
Gulliver arrives to an academy, a school of languages. Ironical comment
referring to Swift’s proposal of an Academy. In Swift’s project, language would
have become simple, and he takes it to the extreme through this book by
creating his ideal language. He want to shorten discourse, leave out verbs
and participles, abolish all words because speaking too much shortens our
lives. It is better to carry the thing you want to talk about with you. The only
problem is that if you want to talk about many things the load is heavier. He
ignorant people are more sensible and rational than intellectuals, because
Pagina 5 di 19
they didn’t want to abolish words and carry things, it would be crazy.
Intelligent people are stupid, but stupid in a diﬀerent way.
“We next went to the school of languages, where three professors sat in consultation
upon improving that of their own country.”
Country of Houyhnhnms
He doesn't understand what the horses are saying, but concludes that they
are an extremely wise population. Just by observing the horse’s way of
talking, posture, attitudes, he understands how intelligent they must be.
Language is not just a matter of content, it can be applied to animals.
“Then he neighed three or four times, but in so different a cadence, that I almost began
to think he was speaking to himself, in some language of his own. While he and I were
thus employed, another horse came up; who applying himself to the first in a very
formal manner, they gently struck each other’s right hoof before, neighing several
times by turns, and varying the sound, which seemed to be almost articulate. They
went some paces off, as if it were to confer together, walking side by side, backward
and forward, like persons deliberating upon some affair of weight, but often turning
their eyes towards me, as it were to watch that I might not escape. I was amazed to see
such actions and behaviour in brute beasts; and concluded with myself, that if the
inhabitants of this country were endued with a proportionable degree of reason, they
must needs be the wisest people upon earth.”
He observed they could express their feelings, passions, their content very
well. A group of horses who were talking about Gulliver noted he is a strange
being, he hears the word “Yahoo” being repeated quite frequently. They are
teaching him his own name, yahoo, and the word that defines them,
Houyhnhnm, they were amazed he could reproduce that sound.
“I plainly observed that their language expressed the passions very well, and the
words might, with little pains, be resolved into an alphabet more easily than the
Chinese. I could frequently distinguish the word Yahoo, which was repeated by each of
them several times: and although it was impossible for me to conjecture what it meant,
yet while the two horses were busy in conversation, I endeavoured to practise this
word upon my tongue; and as soon as they were silent, I boldly pronounced Yahoo in a
loud voice, imitating at the same time, as near as I could, the neighing of a horse; at
which they were both visibly surprised; and the gray repeated the same word twice, as
if he meant to teach me the right accent; wherein I spoke after him as well as I could,
and found myself perceivably to improve every time, though very far from any degree
of perfection. Then the bay tried me with a second word, much harder to be
pronounced; but reducing it to the English orthography, may be spelt thus,
Houyhnhnm. I did not succeed in this so well as in the former; but after two or
three farther trials, I had better fortune; and they both appeared amazed at my
capacity.” Pagina 6 di 19
He always finds people who want to teach him the language, to see how
intelligent he is. “In speaking, they…” - He talks about how they pronounce
their language (similar to high-dutch/german). His master thinks he is a
special kind of yahoo, because he is clean, not dirty. Curious about the
clothes, if they were attached to his body, yahoos were always naked. People
are curious about what Gulliver is doing, since they are intelligent but don’t
know writing (writing is a recent art). He has learned the language and is able
to tell his story.
“In speaking, they pronounced through the nose and throat, and their language
approaches nearest to the High-Dutch, or German, of any I know in Europe; but is
much more graceful and significant. The emperor Charles V. made almost the same
observation, when he said ‘that if he were to speak to his horse, it should be in High-
His master horse doesn’t believe him, so Gulliver is either mistaken or he is
lying, but they don’t have a word for lying since nobody does it.
my companions forced me to land on this coast, and then le me to shift for
“It was with some difficulty, and by the help of many signs, that I brought him to
understand me. He replied, ‘that I must needs be mistaken, or that I said the thing
which was not;’ for they have no word in their language to express lying or falsehood.
‘He knew it was impossible that there could be a country beyond the sea, or that a
parcel of brutes could move a wooden vessel whither they pleased upon water. He was
sure no Houyhnhnm alive could make such a vessel, nor would trust Yahoos to manage
He’s talking about the good qualities of Houyhnhnms, their knowledge is
traditional, transmitted orally. They have no writing, but their poetry is the best
in the world, so idea of precision. They install good qualities. They don’t
commerce with other nations and their buildings are rude and simple, perfect
to protect against heat and so on, surrounded by straight tress.
They have no word to express evil itself. The closest thing to ruin and
deformity are Yahoos, therefore they use Yahoo as a prefix for ugly stuﬀ.
“I know not whether it may be worth observing, that the Houyhnhnms have no word in
their language to express any thing that is evil, except what they borrow from the
deformities or ill qualities of the Yahoos. us they denote the folly of a servant, an
omission of a child, a stone that cuts their feet, a continuance of foul or unseasonable
weather, and the like, by adding to each the epithet of Yahoo.”
Pagina 7 di 19
They have no word for compel. In fact, a general assembly is called
“hnhloayn”, which signifies exhortation, for they van no conception of
completing someone to do something. No person could ever disobey reason.
“I should here observe to the reader, that a decree of the general assembly in this
country is expressed by the word hnhloayn, which signifies an exhortation, as near as I
can render it; for they have no conception how a rational creature can be compelled,
but only advised, or exhorted; because no person can disobey reason, without giving
up his claim to be a rational creature.”
When Gulliver comes back to his country, human language can sound or look
unnatural after a while. He had spent a lot of time with yahoos, who couldn't
speak without neighing, so hearing humans speak is very strange. Captain
doesn't understand, ask Gulliver what happened. Gulliver forgot how to lie
since he’s been for so long without it.
“whereat I took great offence; for I had quite forgot the faculty of lying, so peculiar to
Yahoos, in all countries where they preside, and, consequently, their disposition of
suspecting truth in others of their own species.”
P. 5 Description of the yahoos and declaration of the intentions of the book: he
hopes his book will change things, but he is aware that It won’t happen.
“behold, after above six months warning, I cannot learn that my book has produced
one single effect according to my intentions”.
P. 7/8 He is aware that censure might occur. So he firmly says that there is no
reason to use censure, because his book is a mirror of reality and not just
“If the censure of the Yahoos could any way affect me, I should have great reason to
complain, that some of them are so bold as to think my book of travels a mere fiction
out of mine own brain, and have gone so far as to drop hints, that the Houyhnhnms
and Yahoos have no more existence than the inhabitants of Utopia”
After justifying his books, he admits that after his journey he couldn’t bare
the presence or the smell of the people around him, even his family. He
eventually admits that his mission of reforming the yahoos - strong satire, as
if his people were yahoos - is done and he has failed.
“I wrote for their amendment, and not for their approbation [...] I have other
complaints to make upon this vexatious occasion; but I forbear troubling myself or
you any further. I must freely confess, that since my last return, some corruptions of
my Yahoo nature have revived in me by conversing with a few of your species, and
particularly those of my own family, by an unavoidable necessity; else I should never
Pagina 8 di 19
have attempted so absurd a project as that of reforming the Ya- hoo race in this
Country of Houyhnhnms
Describes his world, talks about law, lawyers, solicitors. Describes how the
lawyers talk, they have a complicated language to confuse others. Shows
example of litigation, and what schemes lawyers use. Parody of Common
Law. Sometimes it’s used to defend something unjust, something wrong.
“I said, ‘there was a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of
proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white,
according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves. For
example, if my neighbour has a mind to my cow, he has a lawyer to prove that he ought
to have my cow from me. I must then hire another to defend my right, it being against
all rules of law that any man should be allowed to speak for himself. Now, in this case,
I, who am the right owner, lie under two great disadvantages: first, my lawyer, being
practised almost from his cradle in defending falsehood, is quite out of his element
when he would be an advocate for justice, which is an unnatural office he always
attempts with great awkwardness, if not with ill-will.”
Thoughts on the language of lawyers, diﬃcult, unnecessary legal jargon.
Things are so complicated, I have to prove that the land that has been with
me for generations actually is mine. Even more sarcastic here, when there’s
something that has to do with interests of the estate, judges are taught to ask
if they are annoying or not… so nothing to do about right or wrong, he serves
the interests of those in power.
Description of the Yahoos. Humans are indirectly compared to them, and
seen as limited creatures whose the main problem is that their power is used
in a vicious and perverse way, not for good deeds.
“The Yahoos appear to be the most unteachable of all animals: their capacity never
reaching higher than to draw or carry burdens. [...] cunning, malicious, treacherous
and revengeful. They are strong and hardy, but of a cowardly spirit, and, by
consequence, insolent, abject, and cruel. It is observed, that the red haired of both
sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much exceed
in strength and activity.”
P. 375 He defends the validity and truth of his worlds. There is a vague border
between fiction and reality in his works. He even wishes that a law could
oblige travel writers to swear that everything in their books is true, so that
falsities would disappear from literature and more credit would be given to
“I imposed on myself, as a maxim never to be swerved from, that I would strictly
adhere to truth;” Pagina 9 di 19
If human had only the vices of nature, it would’t be so hard to stand near
them. Houyhnhnms don’t even have a name for Pride, the worst of the vices,
and it’s not in the Yahoos according to them, but Gulliver is an expert in
human nature and notices glimpses of pride in yahoos —> humans are
worst in this case. Eventually, he decides to live with his horses. Gulliver’s
isolation reflects Swift’s isolation during his last years.
Explains the diﬀerent way of educating children:
1. Children have no duties towards their parents, they must not be grateful to
them for their life. Cynism: reproduction is a mere natural fact.
“They will never allow that a child is under any obligation to his father for begetting
him, or to his mother for bringing him into the world; which considering the
miseries of human life, was neither a benefit in itselg, nor intended so by his parents,
whose thought, in their love anconters, where otherwise employed.”
2. Parents aren’t responsible for the education of the childre, they recur to
public nurseries. There are diﬀerent schools for both sexes with skilled
professors that develop the children’s capacities and inclinations. Children
are taught fundamental values.
3. They see the parents only twice a year for an hour and under the
supervision of a professor.
4. No time for play, study all the time (communist utopia?)
5. The cost of education is covered for every family, even the poorest, by the
emperor’s oﬃcers, but all parents are limited in their expenses by the law
“for the Lilliputians think nothing can be more unjust, than for people to bring
children into the world and leave the birthed of supporting them on the public.”
6. There is no diﬀerence between male and female education
“neither did I perceive any different in their education made by their difference of
sex, only that the exercises of the females were not so robust”
The scholars agree that he (Gulliver) could not be produced in the natural
laws of nature. Compared him to little small animals, so they started to treat
him like such. One of these virtuosi (scholars) thought he could be
something strange, unusual. He’s a kind of joke of nature. Shows how we
react when we see something diﬀerent from our expectation, our frame of
mind. We think we know reality, but when we meet something unexpected
we try to reconnect it to something we know, that’s the European reaction.
Theme of Relativism, a kind of mirror, the reaction of European and the
natives of Australia when they first saw European settlers.
Pagina 10 di 19
5 mesi fa
I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher giorgiaaka1997 di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Letteratura inglese e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione - Iulm o del prof Zuccato Edoardo.
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