“Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift (1726) – Part 3: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib and Japan (Ch. 7-11)

Great Caesar’s Ghost!

“Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift (1726) – Part 3: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib & Japan (Ch. 7-11)

Chapter 7

  • He was dropped off in Maldonada & went to the island of Luggnagg, east of Japan. The island was in an alliance with Japan & hope to find a ride back to England
    • He visited a smaller island, Glubbdubdrip, as island of Sorcerers & Magicians, about 1/3 the size of the Isle of Wight
    • The eldest magician is the prince/governor of the island, living in a 3000 acre palace with 20 foot high walls
    • The governor practices necromancy (summoning the dead) but at most for 24 hours at most, each one only every 3 months
    • Gulliver visited the governor who was guarded heavily by very creepy men. The governor snapped his fingers & made the guards disappear into thin air. Once alone, Gulliver spoke with him about his travels
      • They are dinner served by ghosts. This idea intrigued Gulliver & the governor told him that he could speak to anyone, so long as he confided the conversation to things that happened in the person’s lifetime…
        • Alexander the Great said that he hadn’t been poisoned but died of a fever from drinking far too much
        • Hannibal said the he had never had vinegar in his camp. (It was claimed he used the vinegar to disintegrate boulders in the Alps.)
        • Caesar, Pompey & Brutus
          • Caesar seemed to be an amalgam of heroes & demi-gods. He said his greatest actions of his life weren’t equal to hi murder
          • Pompey seemed like one of peddlers, pickpockets, highwaymen & bullies
          • Brutus instilled in Gulliver a huge veneration for him & the notion that he had virtue, intrepidity, sharpness, patriotism & benevolence. He has that he, Junius, Socrates, Epaminondas, Cato the Younger & Sir Thomas More formed a sextumvirate in the afterlife

Chapter 8

  • He wanted to meet Homer & Aristotle. Homer was tall & good-looking while Aristotle was crouched over with a cane, balding & had a weak voice.
    • Gulliver introduced Homer to Didymus & Eustathius (Homeric scholars & critics). They had hoped him to be a bigger genius than poet.
    • Gulliver introduced Aristotle to Scotus & Remus (scholastic writers on Aristotle). Aristotle didn’t think very much of them
      • He introduced Aristotle to Descartes & Gassendi. Aristotle admitted his errors in science but said their math styles were fads that would pass
  • He spoke to emperors. Eliogabalus’s cooks couldn’t do too much for lack of equipment (he had had them make him ridiculously large & ostentatious feasts. Agesilaus’s helot made the most disgusting broth
  • He asked to see the actual family trees of famous ruling families spanning several generations & was surprised to see many non-royals & even commoners, including fiddlers, courtiers, a prelate, a barber, an abbot & 2 cardinals.
    • The phrase “Nec vir fortis, nec foemina casta” came to Gulliver’s mind (Neither a strong man nor a chaste woman)
    • Almost none of the families had a true lineage
  • Historians were wrong about many men. Brave men were cowards. Wise men were fools. Sincere men were flatterers. Virtuous men were traitors. The innocent were framed. Good men were corrupt. Villains were promoted to power
    • Writers of “secret history” were actually the ones committing the crimes & did so to generation after generation of rulers
      • Whores often played a large role in decisions
      • Many generals had victories out of cowardice or treachery. An admiral beat an enemy he’d intended to defect to. Kings said that their thrones were only secured out of betrayal & corruption
  • Gulliver asked how many of them got power & money, & stuck to the modern ones: perjury, oppression, subornation (asking someone to perjure), sodomy, incest, prostitution of wives & daughters, poisoning, perverting justice to destroy the innocent. The great heroes of the nations died without credit, thanks or recognition
    • A captain in the sea battle of Actium sank 4 ships, which sent Antony on the lam. His only son had been killed in the battle. He later asked Augustus for a promotion but was passed over for a kid with no noble background. He was later charged with neglect of duty & demoted. He died a poor farmer. Agrippa confirmed the story
  • Vices were the only thing that moved anyone to act
    • These stories, depressed Gulliver. Speaking to recent English yeomen taught him the influx of money into England was doing the same amount of corruption to them

Chapter 9

  • Gulliver went back to Maldonada & went to Luggnagg after a bit of a storm & difficult navigation
    • Gulliver his the fact that he was English & posed as a Dutchmen because he knew only the Dutch were allowed into Japan, where he’d hoped to hitch a ride back home from
    • While waiting for approval of passage to Japan, he wandered around. He got word that he was to meet the king
    • The tradition was that visitors crawled on their bellies & licked the dust off the floor. Because he was a foreigner, the dust was removed & the licking was purely ceremonious. Enemies had to lick extra dust put there to annoy them.
    • He crawled up to the throne, got to his knees, hit his head on the ground & issued a compliment to the king: May the King outlive the sun & 11.5 moons
      • The king responded: my tongue is in my friend’s mouth (he agreed to have his conversation to be interpreted)
    • The conversation with the King was pleasant & he was given a place to stay & his expenses paid for. He stayed for 3 months but still longed to go home

Chapter 10

  • The people of Luggnagg were kind to him. He was asked if he had met any immortals there. Gulliver needed further explanation
    • Sometimes a child was born with a spot on his forehead that would change color & size as he grew older. But it marked that he would never die. There were 1100 immortals, both male & female, born out of pure chance
  • Gulliver thought that it was a wonderful idea & gave a speech of the thoughts it evoked in him.
    • It would be great to live without fear of death. If he were an immortal, he’d learn every art & science to earn as much money as he could & within 200 years, he’d be the richest man around. He’d learn every event & facet of public life, learn from the best rulers & ministers. He make proposals for changes in customs, language, fashion, dress, diets & pastimes. He’d become a font of knowledge & wisdom – an Oracle to the Nation.
    • He wouldn’t marry before the age of 60 but would live comfortable, helping young men to learn & grow, & preparing them for virtuous public & private life
    • He’d hang out mostly with other immortals because only they would also know what it was like to be immortal. They’d step in in public affairs only when there was corruption & make corrections. He’d spend a lot of time pushing the frontiers of science, medicine & astronomy
  • The listeners thought that they should fill him in on some details that Gulliver was missing
    • Most people wish for a long life & old people often wish to extend it but they never realize that life spent in agony & torture isn’t worth prolonging. But the immortals make Luggnaggians think differently about immortality
    • They don’t have perpetual youth, health & vigor. They don’t act any differently until the age of 30 when they start to become depressed & melancholy. By 80, (the normal lifespan), they get old, sick & mentally ill. They were incapable of friendship & were usually cranky, morose, vain, without affection or pleasure. They’re jealous of the dead at funerals & are generally unwanted in society
    • Marriages between immortals are illegal because they would probably produce more immortals. Once they turn 80, their heirs take their possessions, leaving just a little left for their maintenance. At this point, they are incapable of work, to be witnesses or peers.
    • At 90, they lose their hair & teeth, as well as any sense of taste. They eat whatever they can get. Their diseases continue to bother them but without killing them. They can’t speak properly & after 200 years, not at all
  • Gulliver visited a few at different ages. The youngest was 200. They didn’t seem at all interested in him but only wanted spare change
    • The people generally hated them & when one is born, it’s seen as a curse. Age is recorded but some are so old they’ve lost track of when they were born.
  • As Gulliver saw all of this, his desire for immortality completely vanished. There’s no worse fate or punishment imaginable. He realized that all the laws concerning immortals made sense because without them, it would ruin the public’s finances

Chapter 11

  • The King wanted him to stay but Gulliver was desperate to go home. The King wrote him a letter of recommendation, gave him some money & a large red diamond, as well as passage to Japan.
    • They received him & had a ceremony in his honor. He was granted any request. He kept up the Dutch charade & asked if he could go to Nangasac (Nagasaki) & to be excused from trampling on the crucifix. They seemed surprised because he was the first ever to ask to be excused. Maybe he wasn’t Dutch? Or just very Christian?
    • Because of the letter, they let the matter  drop & let him go to Nangasac. There, he met Dutch sailors heading back to Amsterdam. They asked about his stories & life. He made a lot of them up, including details of his life & his strange accent just to keep up his façade.
    • He asked to be the ship’s doctor for passage back to Europe. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, he was able to get back to England

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