Travel to some distant land of light by Lemuel Gulliver, first a surgeon, and then a captain of several ships
“Gulliver’s Travels” – a work written at the crossroads of genres: it’s an exciting, purely novel narrative, a novel-journey (by no means, not “sentimental”, which in 1768 will describe Lawrence Stern); this novel is a pamphlet and at the same time a novel that has distinct features of anti-utopia – a genre that we are accustomed to believe to belong exclusively to the literature of the twentieth century; this is a novel with equally distinct elements of fiction, and the riot of Swift’s imagination truly knows no bounds. Being an anti-utopia novel, this novel is utopian in the full sense, too, especially its last part. And finally, undoubtedly, it is necessary to pay attention to the most important thing – this is a prophetic novel, for, reading and rereading it today, perfectly aware of the unquestionable concreteness of the addressees of Swift’s ruthless, caustic, murderous satire, you are only thinking about this specificity in the last place. Because everything that his hero encounters in the course of his wanderings, his peculiar Odyssey, all the manifestations of human, let’s say weird, oddities – those that grow into “strangeness”, which are national and supranational in nature, are global in character – all
In the book of Swift four parts: his hero makes four trips, the total duration of which in time is sixteen years and seven months. Leaving, more precisely, sailing, each time from a completely concrete, real-life on any map of the port city, he suddenly finds himself in some strange countries, getting acquainted with the customs, way of life, everyday life, laws and traditions that in the course there, and talking about his country, about England. And the first such “stop” is for the Swift hero’s country of Lilliput. But first – two words about the hero himself. In Gulliver merged and some features of its creator, his thoughts, his ideas, a kind of “self-portrait,” but the wisdom of the Swift hero (or rather his sanity in that fantastically absurd world, which he describes every time with an inimitably seriously unperturbed mine) is combined with the “simplicity” of Voltaire Huron. It is this simple-mindedness, this strange naivety, that allows Gulliver to grasp each other so intensely, so inquisitively, so accurately, when he finds himself in a wild and foreign country, the most important thing. At the same time, and some detachment is always felt in the very intonation of his narrative, calm, unhurried, non-touching irony. As if he is not talking about his own “walking on the agony”, but he looks at everything as if from a time distance, and quite a lot. In a word, sometimes it feels like it’s our contemporary, some unknown genius writer is leading his story. Laughing at us, above ourselves, over human nature and human morals, which seem to him unchanged. Swift is also a modern writer, because the novel he wrote seems to belong to literature, which it was in the 20th century, and in the second half, that he was called “the literature of the absurd,” but in fact, its true roots, its beginning, are here Swift, and sometimes in this sense a writer who lived two and a half centuries ago, can give a hundred points ahead to modern classics – just as a writer who skillfully possesses all the tricks of absurdist writing.
So, the first “stop” is for the Swift hero’s country of Lilliput, where very small people live. Already in this first part of the novel, as well as in all subsequent ones, it strikes the author’s ability to convey, from the psychological point of view, absolutely exactly and reliably, the sense of a person who is among people (or beings) not like him, to convey his sense of loneliness, abandonment and internal lack of freedom, stiffness is the fact that around – all the others and everything else.
In that detailed, unhurried tone with which Gulliver narrates about all the absurdities, absurdities he faces, having got into the country of Lilliput, surprising, exquisitely-hidden humor affects.
At first, these strange, incredibly small people (respectively, as miniature and everything that surrounds them) meet the Man of the Mountain (as they call Gulliver) quite affably: he is given housing, special laws are being adopted that somehow order his communication with the local residents, so that it flows equally harmoniously and safely for both sides, provide it with food, which is not easy, because the diet of an uninvited guest in comparison with their own grandiose (it is equal to the diet of 1728 Lilliputians!). With him the Emperor himself cheerfully talks, after Gulliver’s assistance to him and his entire state of help (he walks into the strait separating Lilliputi from the neighboring and hostile state Blefuscu, and drags the whole Blefuscan fleet on the rope), he is granted the title of nardak, the highest title in state. Gulliver is introduced to the customs of the country: what, for example, are the exercises of cable dancers serving as a way to get a vacant post at the court (is it really from the inventive Tom Stoppard borrowed the idea of his play “Jumpers” or, alternatively, “Acrobats”?). Description of the “ceremonial march” … between Gulliver’s legs (another “entertainment”), the oath of allegiance he brings to the Lilliputian state; its text, in which the first part, which lists the titles of “the most powerful emperor, the comfort and terror of the universe,” pays particular attention to himself, is all inimitable! Especially if we take into account the disproportion of this lilliput – and all those epithets that accompany his name. Further Gulliver is initiated into the political system of the country: it turns out that in Lilliput there are two ” warring parties known as the Tremexen and the Slemexen “, differing from each other only in that the supporters of one are adherents of… low heels and the other – high, and between them occur on this, undoubtedly very significant, soil” the most severe strife ” : “They say that high heels are more in line with the… ancient state structure” of the Lilliputians, but the emperor “decided that in government institutions… only low heels should be used…” Well, what is not Peter the Great’s reforms, the influence of which on the further “Russian way” does not subside to this day! Even more significant circumstances brought to life the “bitter war” that the “two great empires”-Lilliputia and Blefuscu-are leading to each other: from which side to break eggs – from the blunt end or on the contrary, from the sharp one. Well, of course, Swift is talking about his contemporary England, divided into supporters of the Tories and Whigs – but their opposition has sunk into oblivion, becoming an attribute of history, but the remarkable allegory-allegory, invented by Swift, is alive. For it is not the Whigs and Tories: no matter how specific parties are called in a particular country in a concrete historical epoch – the Swift allegory turns out to be “for all time”. And it’s not in allusions – the writer guessed the principle on which everything was built, built and built from the century on. but a wonderful allegory-allegory, invented by Swift, is alive. For it is not the Whigs and Tories: no matter how specific parties are called in a particular country in a concrete historical epoch – the Swift allegory turns out to be “for all time”. And it’s not in allusions – the writer guessed the principle on which everything was built, built and built from the century on. but a wonderful allegory-allegory, invented by Swift, is alive. For it is not the Whigs and Tories: no matter how specific parties are called in a particular country in a concrete historical epoch – the Swift allegory turns out to be “for all time”. And it’s not in allusions – the writer guessed the principle on which everything was built, built and built from the century on.
Although, however, Swift’s allegories were, of course, relevant to that country and the era in which he lived and whose political underside he had the opportunity to learn firsthand from his own experience. And therefore, for Lilliputia and Blefuscu, whom the Emperor of Lilliputia, after Gulliver’s removal of the Belfuscan ships, “planned… to turn to his own province and manage it through his governor,” the relations between England and Ireland, which have by no means become a legacy, to this day, painful and disastrous for both countries.
I must say that not only the situations described by Swift, human weaknesses and state foundations amaze with their current sound, but even many purely textual passages. You can endlessly address them. Well, for example: “The language of the Belfusans is just as different from the language of the Lilliputians, how different are the languages of the two European nations, while each of the nations is proud of the antiquity, beauty and expressiveness of its language, and our emperor, taking advantage of his position created by the seizure of the enemy fleet, obliged the embassy [the Belfusans] to present their credentials and negotiate in the Lilliputian language. ” Associations – Swift clearly unplanned (however, how to know?) – arise by themselves…
Although, where Gulliver goes on to explain the foundations of the Lilliputian legislation, we already hear Swift’s voice – a utopian and idealist; these Lilliputian laws, placing morality above mental merit; laws that suggest denunciation and fraud with crimes that are much heavier than theft, and many others are clearly dear to the author of the novel. As well as the law, which considers ingratitude as a criminal offense; This latter was particularly affected by the utopian dreams of Swift, who knew the price of ingratitude well, both on a personal and state scale.
However, not all the advisors of the emperor share his enthusiasm for the Mountain Man, for many elevation (in the sense of figurative and literal) is not at all to the liking. The indictment, which these people organize, draws all the blessings Gulliver provided for crimes. “Enemies” demand death, and the methods are offered one more terrible than the other. And only the chief secretary for secret affairs, Relstersel, known as Gulliver’s “true friend,” turns out to be truly human: his proposal boils down to the fact that it is enough for Gulliver to put out both eyes; “Such a measure, while satisfying to some extent justice, at the same time will delight the whole world, who will welcome the same meekness of the monarch as the generosity and generosity of persons who have the honor of being his advisors.” In reality (state interests are above all!) “The loss of eyes will not do any harm to the physical strength [of Gulliver], thanks to which [he] can still be of use to His Majesty.” Sarcasm Swift is inimitable – but hyperbole, exaggeration, allegory absolutely at the same time correlate with reality. Such “fantastic realism” of the beginning of the XVIII century…
Or here is another example of Swift Providence: “The Lilliputians have a custom instituted by the present emperor and his ministers (very unlike… what was practiced in former times): if for the sake of the vengeance of the monarch or the malice of the favorite, the court sentences someone to cruel punishment, the emperor pronounces in a meeting of the state council a speech depicting his great mercy and kindness as qualities known to all and recognized by all: speech is immediately announced throughout the empire, and nothing so frightens the people as these panels giraffes to the imperial mercy, for it is established that the more extensive and more eloquent, the more inhuman the punishment and the innocent the victim. ” That’s right, but what about Lilliputia? – Any reader will ask. And in fact – with what? ..
After fleeing to Blefuscu (where the story repeats itself with depressing similarity, that is, everyone is happy about the Man of Grief, but also glad to get rid of it as soon as possible) Gulliver sails on a boat built by him and… accidentally meets an English merchant vessel, safely returns to his native penates. He brings miniature sheep with him, which in a few years have blossomed so much that, as Gulliver says, “I hope that they will bring a significant benefit to the cloth industry” (Swift’s undoubted “reference” to his own “clother’s letters” – his pamphlet, published in light in 1724).
The second strange state, where the restless Gulliver finds himself, is Brobdingning – the state of giants, where Gulliver is already a kind of Lilliputian. Every time, the Swift hero as if falls into a different reality, as if in a kind of “behind the mirror”, and this transition occurs in a matter of days and hours: reality and unreality are very close, you just have to want…
Gulliver and the local population, in comparison with the previous story, seem to change roles, and the appeal of local residents with Gulliver this time exactly corresponds to how Gulliver himself behaved with the Lilliputians, in all the details and details that are so masterfully, you can say, lovingly describes, even writes out Swift. On the example of his hero, he demonstrates the amazing property of human nature: the ability to adapt (in the best, “Robinzon” sense of the word) to any circumstances, to any life situation, the most fantastic, the most improbable – a property that all those mythological, fictitious creatures, which turns out to be Gulliver.
And one more comprehends Gulliver, knowing his fantastic world: the relativity of all our ideas about him. The Swift hero is characterized by the ability to accept the “proposed circumstances”, the same “tolerance” for which several other enlightener, Voltaire, spoke several decades earlier.
In this country, where Gulliver is even more (or, more accurately, less) than just a dwarf, he undergoes many adventures, eventually getting back to the royal court, becoming the beloved interlocutor of the king himself. In one of his conversations with his majesty Gulliver tells him about his country – these stories will be repeated more than once in the pages of the novel, and each time Gulliver’s interlocutors will again and again be amazed at what he will tell them, presenting the laws and customs of his country as something quite normal and normal. And for the inexperienced of his interlocutors (Swift brilliantly portrays this their “ingenuous naivety of misunderstanding”!) All the stories of Gulliver seem endless absurdity, delirium, sometimes – just fiction, lies. At the end of the conversation, Gulliver (or Swift) summed up a certain line: ” My brief historical sketch of our country over the past century has plunged the king in extreme amazement. He declared that, in his opinion, this story is nothing but a heap of conspiracies, turmoil, murders, beatings, revolutions and expulsions, which are the worst result of greed, partisanship, hypocrisy, perfidy, cruelty, frenzy, insanity, hatred, envy, voluptuousness, malice and ambition. “Glitter!
Even more sarcasm sounds in the words of Gulliver himself: “… I had to calmly and patiently listen to this insulting treason of my noble and ardently beloved fatherland… But you can not be too demanding of a king who is completely cut off from the rest of the world and therefore is in complete ignorance of the customs and customs of other nations. This ignorance always gives rise to a certain narrowness of thought and a number of prejudices, which we, like other enlightened Europeans, are completely alien. ” And in fact – foreign, completely alien! Swift’s mockery is so obvious, the allegory is so transparent, and our present-day naturally arising thoughts on this subject are so clear that it is not even worth the trouble of commenting on them.
Equally remarkable is the “naive” judgment of the king over politics: the poor king, it turns out, did not know its basic and fundamental principle: “everything is permitted” – because of its “excessive unnecessary scruples”. Bad politician!
And yet Gulliver, being in the company of such an enlightened monarch, could not fail to feel all the humiliation of his position – the lilliput among giants – and his, in the final analysis, lack of freedom. And he again tears home, to his family, to his, so unfairly and imperfectly arranged country. And having got home, for a long time can not adapt: it seems… too small. Accustomed!
In part three of the book Gulliver falls first to the flying island of Laputu. Again, everything that he observes and describes is the height of absurdity, while the author’s intonation of Gulliver-Swift is still imperturbable and meaningful, full of unconcealed irony and sarcasm. And again everything is recognizable: as trifles of a purely everyday quality, such as the “fondness for news and politics” inherent in the Laputians, and the fear that always lives in their minds, owing to which “the Laputians are constantly in such anxiety that they can not sleep peacefully in their beds, nor enjoy the ordinary pleasures and joys of life. ” The visible incarnation of the absurd as the basis of life on the island is the flapper, whose purpose is to make listeners (interlocutors) focus on what they are currently told about. But the allegations of a more ambitious quality are present in this part of Swift’s book: concerning rulers and power, and how to influence “disobedient subjects”, and much more. And when Gulliver descends to the “continent” from the island and gets to his capital, the city of Lagado, he will be shocked by the combination of boundless ruin and poverty that will be seen everywhere, and peculiar oases of order and prosperity: it turns out that these oases are all that is left of past, normal life. And then some “projectors” appeared who, having visited the island (that is, our way, abroad), and “having returned to the ground… they were imbued with contempt for all… institutions and began to draw up projects for the re-creation of science, art, laws, language and technology in a new way. ” First, the Academy of Projectors arose in the capital, and then in all of any significant cities in the country. The description of Gulliver’s visit to the Academy, his conversations with learned men, is unparalleled in sarcasm, combined with contempt-contempt in the first place for those who so fool and lead their noses… And linguistic improvements! A school of political projectors!
Tired of all these miracles, Gulliver decided to sail to England, but on his way home for some reason, first, the island of Glabboddrib, and then the kingdom of Lagnegg. I must say that as Gulliver moves from one outlandish country to another, Swift’s fantasy becomes more and more turbulent, and his contemptuous poisonousness is becoming ever more ruthless. This is how he describes the manners at the court of King Luggnegga.
And in the fourth and final part of the novel, Gulliver finds himself in the country of Houyhnhnms. Guingmanns are horses, but it is in them that Gulliver finally finds human traits, that is, those features that Swift would like to see in people. And in the service of the Houyhnhnms there live angry and vile creatures – ehu, like two drops of water similar to a man, only devoid of the cover of civility (both figuratively and literally), and therefore appearing disgusting creatures, real savages alongside well-bred, highly moral, respectable horses, where the honor, nobility, dignity, modesty, and habit of abstinence are alive…
Once again tells Gulliver about his country, about its customs, manners, political structure, traditions – and again, more precisely, more than ever, the story is first met by his listener-interlocutor first distrust, then – bewilderment, then – indignation: how can one live so incongruously with the laws of nature? So unnatural to human nature – that’s the pathos of misunderstanding from the horse-guingnma. The design of their community is the version of utopia that Swift allowed himself in the finale of his novel-pamphlet Swift: the old writer, who has lost faith in human nature, with unexpected naivety almost chants primitive joys, a return to nature – something very reminiscent of Voltaire’s “Simple-minded” . But Swift was not “simple-minded,” and therefore his utopia looks utopian even for himself. And this is manifested above all in the fact that it is these cute and respectable guingnms who drive out of their “herd” the “stranger” who has come into him, Gulliver. For he is too similar to an echo, and they do not care until Gulliver’s similarity to these creatures is only in the structure of the body and nothing more. No, they decide, since he is an ehu, then he should live next to the eh, and not among “decent people”, I mean horses. utopia did not work out, and Gulliver had in vain dreamed of spending the rest of his days among these good-looking good animals. The idea of tolerance is alien even to them. Therefore, the general meeting of the Houyhnhnms, in the description of Swift, resembling the scholarship of his well-known almost all the Platonic Academy, accepts the “exhortation” – to expel Gulliver, as belonging to the breed eh.