Thursday, March 2, 2017

Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels": Audiobook Review

"Not the children's book you think"
Where does Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Near top tier. Excellent choice of narrator. David Hyde Pierce is perfectly cast and poised.

What did you like best about this story?
The upending of the first part is familiar: big meets small. Then small meets big. But the latter parts, where the mind is inflated into the arbiter of all, and then the body prolonged beyond endurance, speak better to Swift's legacy, for these issues remain relevant today.

Which scene was your favorite?
The last section with the inversion of horses as dominating humans is coruscating. It's cutting satire and it stings deeply. All the same, Jonathan Swift's compassion mixed with his disgust for human cruelty and animal dignity resonates, in ways we may me recognize more than three hundred years ago for his audience, at least those tuned into sentient creatures.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I did snicker. While the Laputan third part was less interesting than I recall from high school (imagine this book being assigned in most places now, given its NSFW content and offending sensibilities couched in a courtly high style few perhaps can now appreciate), it held up despite this slow spot, for the novel from then on reaches its horrifying climaxes.

Any additional comments?
As above lauded, the pairing of Pierce and Swift is praised. The actor brings out the wit and the pain in the pages, and he renders the difficult registers of some of the high-flown rhetoric of which Swift's a master into entertaining adventure and instructive warnings of human follies. The messages of this often diminished (!) tale remain lively and surprisingly applicable, in life-extension and in animal rights as well as servitude and inequality, today. (Audible 11/7/16)

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