Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
The North Reading Group met at the Milwood Library on January 18th to discuss Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. This is his most famous work and has been published in myriad editions since its first release in 1726. Eleven members attended the meeting, and six editions of the book were represented. All had started the book, and all but one had finished it. Only nine had read Swift before, but those who had read him had invariably read some version of Gulliver’s Travels.
Opinions varied wildly, with one reader calling it one of her favorite books of all time (read Asimov’s Annotated Gulliver’s Travels this time), and four not interested in finishing it this time around because of more entertaining, unread books to hand (2) or frustration with the content/style (2). In general, the group found the earlier chapters more engaging because they have more action than later chapters, which become more “tell” and less “show.” Most of the group respected Swift’s wordsmith abilities and his introduction of words and ideas that later authors built upon, but from an entertainment/accessibility standpoint, his “info-dump” writing style compared poorly for many readers to contemporary novels. Others had no problem with the writing style and enjoyed the perspective he presented on the politics and science of his time.
After the meeting, we repaired to Culver’s at the intersection of Braker and Kramer.