Monday, June 13, 2011

Reading 'Gulliver's Travels'

Just finished re-reading Gulliver's Travels. Not sure I'll follow Robert Anton Wilson's example of reading all of Swift's works, but I like Gulliver very much.

I read Gulliver for the first time in the 1980s, when I belonged to a book club for couples back in Oklahoma. We would all agree to read a book and then discuss it the next month. I remember I talked them into reading Gulliver's Travels, and I loved it, and I was very excited looking forward to the discussion. To my chagrin, when we assembled, I discovered nobody else had bothered to finish it. There wasn't much of a discussion.

Re-reading it this time turned inadvertently into an experiment on the best way to read a public domain book if you don't have a dedicated electronic book reader. I started out reading it on my cell phone, in QiOO format. Then I read it on a Web browser, on Google Books. Finally, I finished it as an EPUB downloaded from Project Gutenberg, read on my laptop. That was the best -- big, easy to read type and good bookmarking.

2 comments:

michael said...

Tom Jackson sez:
>I started out reading it on my cell phone, in QiOO format. Then I read it on a Web browser, on Google Books. Finally, I finished it as an EPUB downloaded from Project Gutenberg, read on my laptop. That was the best -- big, easy to read type and good bookmarking.<

All I could think while reading this was McLuhan, not Swift. Using MM's theories, I'd have to think for a long time how might unfurl reading a classic text on a mobile phone and laptop. RAW thought MM's famous phrase was more accurately put as "the medium shapes the message." If the medium shapes Gulliver's Travels, I wonder how your nervous system "felt" while reading Swift on cell phone...

I've long been fascinated by the sort of double-coding of things like Huck Finn, The Simpsons, Lewis Carroll's Alice stories...and Gulliver: all of them are accessible to children, but for adults they mean quite something else.

When I "read" Gulliver at 14 it was one text; when I read it again at 30 I hadn't realized how profoundly pissed off he seemed at the entire human race!

Neil_in_Chicago said...

Depending on how deep you want to go, Isaac Asimov's The Annotated Gullivers Travels is great.