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Tony Grist

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Laputa Etc [Oct. 4th, 2008|10:27 am]
Tony Grist
Party politics can make a fool of the wisest man. Witness Gulliver, Book Three, where Swift's animus against the Hanoverian court and its patronage of the Royal Society leads him into an attack on Science as such. There are good jokes- some Pythonesque, some gross- and rather too many that are only explicable through footnotes. The imaginative writer- who struggles through in Liliput and is dominant in Brobdignag- has gone to sleep again- and the satirist is back in charge- firing off his one-liners. Book III is a collection of bits and pieces- a sweeping up of crumbs. The visit to the magician-king of Glubbdubdrib- who raises the eminent dead for Gulliver's edification- is a really lazy piece of writing, which sets out to prove, by mere assertion, that the past was noble and the present is mean.  You bring the likes of Alexander and Homer onstage and you don't get them to do or say anything? What a wasted opportunity! Events are barely dramatised, people barely characterised and even the very famous passage about the immortal Struldbruggs is much more tell than show- the brief riff of a stand-up comedian.  "Old people,eh? What are they like? And as for those bloody Dutch..."

[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2008-10-04 11:08 am (UTC)
Presumably this is why many people are familiar with the little poeople of Liliput but would just give you a very funny look if you mentioned Glubbdubdrib? :)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-10-04 12:02 pm (UTC)
I think so.

I have this feeling Gulliver is a great book in spite of Swift's intentions. He set out to write satire, but got carried away and- in dribs and drabs- created great imaginative fiction.
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