“Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift (1726) – Part 3: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib and Japan (Ch. 1-3)

The Strangest Thing G’s Seen… Yet.

“Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift (1726) – Part 3: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib and Japan (Ch. 1-3)

Chapter 1

  • He’d only been home for 10 days when the Captain of a previous voyage he’d been on made him an offer for another trip that he couldn’t refuse ($$$)
    • This time it was to the East Indies & they would be leaving in 2 months
    • Gulliver convinced his wife to agree to the trip
  • They left on August 5, 1706 & landed in Fort Saint George (India) & moved on to Tonquin (Vietnam). The cargo they’d hope to pick up wasn’t there. So, the Captain sent Gulliver to captain a side trip to earn a few extra bucks to help defray the cost of the trip
    • Gulliver sailed the shipped & after the 3 days, he rained into storm for several days & got lost once it was over. After 10, days they were caught by pirates & unable to fend them off.
    • The pirates tied them up. Gulliver noticed that the leader was Dutch, so he spoke to him in Dutch (having gone to Medical School in Leyden) He asked why a Protestant & Christian man from an allied country would do such a thing & not have mercy
    • The Dutchman was enraged but the Japanese commander stepped in & said that they were not going to die. Gulliver mentioned that it was sad that a heather was nicer than a Christian. For this, the Dutchman separated him from his men & left him in a canoe to drift alone in the sea
    • Once the pirates were out of view, he rowed toward some small islands. It took 3 hours. He found, food, made a fire, ate & found shelter to sleep in
    • He sailed island to island & finally went to one much further off & had to sail around the island to find a place to land
    • Once there, he explored, found food & shelter. He started to get depressed at his prospects & stayed in his cave. Once he could get out he saw a large object blotted out the sun. It was a floating island moving towards the shore.
    • He saw galleries of people fishing & starts along the sides
    • He approached & they sent down a chain to lift him up to the island

Chapter 2

  • Once he climbed aboard, he looked at the people
    • Their heads were titled to the side with walleyes, Their clothes were covered with pictures of suns, moons, stars & musical instruments. They had little bags of peas & pebbles next to their necks, & their servants would whack them with a stick to wake them out of their daydreaming which they’d drift into fairly regularly
      • If they didn’t get snapped out of their daze, they might walk off the edge of the island
  • He was taken to the top of the island to the royal palace. Along the way, his guides forgot where they were & had to be woken up
    • The King took no notice of him because he was so busy contemplating a hard math problem. After about an hour, he was woken up by a servant. He said something Gulliver couldn’t understand & the servants explained how they found him
    • Gulliver was given a room & 2 servants. Later at dinner, he found the food in the first course all cut into triangles, rhomboids & various shapes. The second course’s food was shaped into musical instruments
      • Gulliver asked them what the words for many of the items on the table were so he could start to build a vocabulary. After dinner, he was given a tutor (with his own servant to snap him out of his daydreams) to teach him words & phrases. Many aspects of the language were worked around Mathematical, Scientific & Musical terms. He did his best to memorize them
      • The name of the island was “Laputa” meaning “floating island”
  • They made him clothtes like his, taking measurements with quadrants, rulers & compasses. The clothes came back misshapen & poorly made. This was common with them.
    • Eventually he could begin to understand & speak with the king.
    • The king gave orders for the island to move to another place by flying
    • They moved the island to the Capital, Lagado & stopped by cities along the way to pick up petitions to the King sent up a roped with the letters pinned onto it
  • Gulliver was well-versed in math & science & it helped him understand what was going on, as well as carrying on conversations
    • Praising beauty or behavior usually involved shapes or math terms. The Kitchen even had math & musical instruments
  • The houses are poorly built, no right angles because they don’t know about practical geometry or mechanics – which was far too vulgar
    • Everything of their looked great on paper but ended up a mess in reality
    • They seemed incompetent in everything but music & math, & had no ability to reason, imagine or invent
  • They seemed very interested in public affairs, giving opinions on the State & disputing opinions
    • Like many mathematicians at home, they scrutinized small things & let important things slide. Often they’re overwhelmed by the position of celestial bodies. It consumes their minds to the point where they can think of nothing else. They have trouble sleeping & take no pleasure in life, like children who can’t stop thinking about the monsters hiding in the closet
  • The women disliked the way the men behaved & so they became fond of foreigners. Often they’d conduct love affairs because the men were far too preoccupied with math & science
    • Women weren’t allowed to wander off with express permission from the King. The Prime Minister’s wife made several trips for her “health” away to city below just to escape the drudgery
  • The King had no interest in Gulliver’s land, its laws, government, history, religion, etc. just the state the country’s math & science. He wasn’t impressed.

Chapter 3

  • Gulliver wanted to see all of the island had to see. The King allowed it & sent him with his tutor to learn how the island moved.
    • The island is perfectly circular with a diameter of 4.5 miles, measuring 10000 acres & 300 yards thick
    • The bottom is made of adamant (mysterious/legendary hard material) 200 yards thick, 100 yards above of various minerals
    • The descent from the tip of the island to the sides caused dew to collect in spots around on the island. The island had to rise occasionally above the cloud level to prevent the basins from overflowing
  • 100 yards below the surface is an “Astronomers Cave” but above the adamant. There are many astronomical instruments inside. Also, there was a loadstone 6 yards long & 3 yards thick.
    • It is a magnet spinning on a adamantine axle spinning the loadstone around.
      • On one side, it attracts the earth, causing the island to drop.
      • On the other side, it repels the earth, causing the island to rise.
      • When the stone is place obliquely, the island moves forward & up (or down, depending on the direction of the loadstone)
      • The island can only move in diagonal patterns to displace itself. It can’t go any higher than 4 miles because the magnet loses its effect.
      • Astronomers take care of the stone & move it accordingly to what the King wants. Most of the time, they stare into their magnificent telescopes. Together with their altitude (often above the clouds) & superior astronomical equipment, they have a much better map of the night sky than we do.
        • They’ve seen many planets who have moons of their own & have mapped out the periods of 93 comets with tremendous accuracy
  • The King is an absolute monarch
    • If one town acted up in a way that angered the King, he could use the floating island to block the sun & rain. If that didn’t work he could drop stones & debris on the town. If that didn’t work, he could just lower the island on top of the city to crush it.
      • The King was loath to do this because it damages the adamant layer below.
    • The King & his sons are not allowed to leave the island, neither is the Queen while she is of child-bearing age.

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