Archive for October, 2009

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Lilliputian Comings

October 27, 2009

And, of course, by that I mean short comings…both Jonathan Swift’s and mine…but first I’d like to reply directly to your post.

I agree wholeheartedly…it seems foolhardy, if not downright reckless for these shipmen to keep inviting Lemmy on board.  This book must have taken place during the great boat doctor shortage of the early 17th Century.

But I disagree wholeheartedly with your thought that the description of Laputa was the aftereffect of a “bad trip.”  Indeed, I welcomed this introduction of whimsy into what was quickly becoming a slightly stale story.  But then Swift quickly got back to form and started making the book boring again.  Swift starts talking  the lode-stone and Jon starts skimming.

Which is the shortcoming I mentioned earlier…Gulliver’s Travels is quickly joining the ranks of Vanilla Sky, The Riches, and the Little House on the Prairie series of books.  Things that start interesting but quickly devolve into boring chores (These Happy Golden Years indeed!).

So I’m going back to reading for the poop jokes, and here luckily Swift delivers.  When describing the studies going on at the Academy of Balnibarbi Gulliver sees a scholar who’s project is “an operation to reduce human excrement to its original food; by separating the several parts; removing the tincture which it receives from the gall, making the odour exhale; and scumming off the saliva.”  Good luck with that!  (But poop, it’s nice to have you back.)

Now to the Lilliputian (read short) coming of my own.  I truly intended to be finished with part three by the start of this week…but I was distracted by a disc of the Gilmore Girls final season–and how am I supposed to focus on this book when Lorelai and Chris’s marriage is dissolving before my eyes?!  I ask you–how?!

But I’m close (ish) and I’m going to finish by the end of the month if it kills me (and it might).

Boy am I ready for a new book…

Jon

 

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This Post is Brought to You by the Letter “Y”

October 24, 2009

I guess rather than the letter “Y” this post is brought to you by the question, “Why?”

As in: Why would anyone want Lemuel Gulliver to be a part of their traveling party?

We are not even a page into section 3 before William Robinson starts hitting ol’ Lemuel up for joining his crew. Not only does he make visit after visit he offers to pay him double (Double!?!) the normal salary.

One might think that Gully after his last two sea voyages might have, I don’t know, something of a reputation among the sea-faring community. Perhaps as being, I don’t know, bad luck. Let’s see he’s only been abducted by giants and miniature men voyages scheduled to take months leave him asea for years on end.

It’s sort of like a sightseeing boat vying for Gilligan’s services.

Let me just say, if I ever found myself in a fictional 18th century England, hired as a boat hand, and I found that Gulliver was on my crew, I might re-think my employment options.

Luckily, I don’t think the chances of that happening are very great.

I too am on my way to Laputa. After reading the first chapter in part III I am pretty sure that 1 of 2 things is true:

1.) Gulliver is a crackpot.
2.) Guilliver is abused some extremely potent hallucinogenic drugs. (An island in the sky? Really, Gulliver, really?)

Well, I hope you are reading remains Swift (Don’t start a battle of puns with me, Twin Brother. It is a battle you cannot win.)

Happy reading,

Justin

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Let’s Hear It For Laputa

October 20, 2009

Well twin I’m not going to let your lackadaisical reading schedule impede my Gulliverian progress…I will continue to read this book Swiftly! (Zing!)

Part of the reason that I won’t let you get in my way is that I’m excited to see what happens in these unknown islands of part three…coming into the novel I knew that Lilliput had the little people and that Brobdingnag had the big people and that Houyhnhms was unpronounceable, but meanwhile part three remained a delightful mystery (the only thing that could have made this mystery more delightful, I daresay, are cat sleuths).

Well mystery no more…just call me Pandora and look at my big, open box! But instead of ills this box I’ve opened is a box of wonders (not so very different from a Whitman’s Sampler–I love candy.). Why Laputa is a floating island! (Spoiler: Laputa floats). And the Laputians, sure they’re not the prettiest (or the smartest), but I’m simply delighted by their sideways heads and lolling eyes.

And that’s all the farther I’ve gotten. This book’s long sentences take concentration and lately my bus has been chatty and it’s hard to focus with all of these conversations going on. The only mystery (not delightful…nary a cat sleuth in sight) is why no one wants to talk to the friendly gentleman reading Gulliver’s Travels?

I’ll let you ponder that one as you continue your Travels,
Jon

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Jonny, Mnemonics Explained

October 16, 2009

I forgot how you are never one to let a misspelling slide, Twin Brother. You caught me. I made my last post without my Penguin Classic (take that, Wordsworth) handy.

In my head, I think of Brobdingnag as “Brodbignag.” Let me explain why:

The citizenry of Brobdingnag are giants, hence broad.

Brobdingnagians are big. (See my comment re: giants).

And that Glumdalclitch: nag, nag, nag.

Broad + big + nag = Brodbignag.

Hence “Brodbignag” instead Brobdingnag. Please, Pardon my mnemonic. I promise henceforward my trusty copy of Gulliver will not leave my side so as to be handy for reference for all future posts.

I can’t help but notice that you are once again racing ahead of me in reading. Might I suggest you take the weekend off from reading Gulliver? Instead you might read one of the two books I gifted you last weekend:

The Humbling by Philip Roth–a very Rothian exploration of aging, impotence (of one sort or another–in this book he can’t perform…on stage.) And I will leave it at that.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett–Sadly no, not a book about you or me, but instead a very fast reading book with a little bit of everything: rare books, mystery, more rare books. (Who could ask for more?)

Just a suggestion. I too should be setting sale from Brobdingnag soon, and then I’ll be forced to come up with a new mnemonic.

Justin

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Big Ding

October 13, 2009

I like how you refer to Brobdingnag as Brobignag in your post…I like how you’ve made it mnemonic–everyone’s big there (except Gulliver–thence flows hilarity). Mnemonic, but factually incorrect. (Unless my Wordsworth Classic isn’t as definitive as I think it is–no it can’t be that! Never doubt the Wordsworth Classic!). When you read the story do you read the country name as Brobignag (I hope so–I like that better. Justin 1, Swift 0)?

Kind of related (it, too, is a question)…when you read do hear the words narrated in your head? I do. Usually in my head, as I read–not all the time, I hear the story being read in my own voice (it’s quite pleasing)…but for some reason as I read Gulliver’s Travels its read in dulcet tones of Sir Kenneth Branagh’s voice. What’s up with that?

I just finished the Brobdingnag section. Interesting souvenirs Gulliver chooses to bring back with him…hair, toe nails clippings, a corn from the foot of a noblewoman (Note to Gulliver: If you ever go on vacation…just send me a postcard). And he can’t figure out why the captain of the boat doesn’t want any of his “treasures”. I’m sure what Gulliver has chosen to bring back is satirical of something…but darned if I know what. I’ve pretty much given up trying to figure what Swift is riffing on. I’m now in this book solely for the poop jokes.

I liked your analogy to Fraggle Rock. Sometimes these classic novels get my little brain all twisted in knots and then you use a good Boober example and all of sudden everything seems clear. (Boober is Glumdalclitch, right?)

Well I’m excited to move on to part three…but I think it will have to wait until tomorrow…at this point in the evening those long (some might say Brobdingnagian…you might say Brobignagian) sentences just make me sleepy.

Until next time,
Jon

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Dance Your Cares Away…

October 10, 2009

Save your worries for another day…

Okay, apologies for busting out into blog-song there, but ever since I started reading about our friend, Gulliver’s visit to Brodbignag I can’t get that dang Fraggle Rock theme song at of my head.

Sure, I read about Gulliver’s ups and downs with the Brodbignaggians, but in my head all I see is Gobo seeking to understand the Gorgs. (And to a lesser extent the Doozer’s attempt to comprehend Gobo, Red, Wembley, Boober, and all the other Fraggles.)

And at long last I am beginning to understand the confusion and alienation that Gobo’s Uncle Matt feels as he travels among the “strange creatures from outer space.”

You know how I love to find echoes of literary classics in narratives featuring Muppets. Remember how I couldn’t stop talking about the similarities between The Great Muppet Caper and Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone? Or slightly more obviously, the narrative parallels between A Muppet Christmas Carol? (Admittedly that wasn’t one of my cleverest days.)

So if nothing else, Part II of this book has given me a greater insight to Fraggle Rock.

And for that Jonathan Swift, I thank you.

Speaking of Muppets, have you seen this clip of Sesame Street’s take on Mad Men? I think my favorite part is their interpretation of the theme song.

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What I Think

October 6, 2009

Sounds like your adventure was quite thrilling…tilty boat rides, birds, a lighthouse…all very Gulliver-esque. I think this is a travel essay just waiting to be written (some suggested titles “The Maine Event” or “I Went to Maine and Didn’t Even Try to Find Cabot Cove Because I’m Not As Big A Fan of Murder, She Wrote And Indirectly Angela Lansbury As Jon Is”).

That’s what I’m thinking.

I’m also thinking the Brobdingnag part of this book isn’t as interesting to me as the Lilliput part…Gulliver falls in a cream dish, Gulliver almost gets eaten by a dog, Gulliver almost gets eaten by a monkey (okay that was funny), something happens with Gulliver and a bullfrog (at this point I was just skimming). Oh how I miss the tales of extinguishing fires with urine and big piles of poo.

I’m also thinking that I have no idea what this book is satirizing. The back of my Wordsworth Class states “Swift’s attack on the futility of science which is not applied to human betterment in its widest sense, is relevant to today’s post-industrial culture.” What? Am I thick? Where do they mention science? I’m halfway through and nary do I see the “use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc” (that’s the definition of satire my friend–I didn’t just know that, as impressive as that would be. I had to look it up).

Maybe you’re smarter than me (Did I just type that!) if you know what’s going on please feel free to clue me in.

Right now all I’m taking away is “Brobdingnagians smell bad”.

I’m almost through with Part II…next time you hear from me I’ll be on my way to Laputa. Or Balnibarbi. Or Luggnagg, Grubbdubdrib, or Japan (what?).

Until then,
Jon