Explain How do the opening chapters of Gulliver’s Travels imitate (and parody) traditional travel narratives?

How do the opening chapters of Gulliver’s Travels imitate (and parody) traditional travel narratives? ————— If you’ve never seen The Wizard of Oz, here’s a video 🙂 Watch Video Not In Kansas Anymore – Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary – Own it October 1 Duration: (2:19) User: warnerbrosonline – Added: 7/17/13 A word of clarification: the allusion to The Wizard of Oz is meant to be light-hearted, a way of saying we (and Gulliver) are somewhere strange; I don’t mean that the film is a traditional travel narrative or that you should compare Gulliver’s Travels to it. WRITE FOUR DIFFERENT PARAGRAPH OF 4 DIFFERENT IDEAS

THE ENLIGHTENMENT IN EUROPE (cont.) [Travel Narratives] [Gulliver’s Travels] TRAVEL NARRATIVES: return to top of page INTRODUCTION. Your primary assignment for this week is one of the most famous fictional travel narrative of all time—Gulliver’s Travels. Because many of you may know little about travel narratives, I have also asked you to read sections from two other texts that fall under this general rubric. Travel narratives are both simple and complex. On the one hand, the Enlightenment travel narrative traces its roots to the Renaissance—a time when the voyage of exploration displaced the medieval pilgrimage as the paradigmatic journey and the invention of the printing press made possible the broad dissemination of travelers’ stories. (Both of these trends would accelerate in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as exploration increased and printing technologies improved). Like the many fantastical accounts of voyages to unknown lands, “true” accounts from this period reflect an expanding awareness of the vastness of the world and the diversity of its inhabitants. (To get a sense of how the unknown world became the known world over a period of two hundred years, examine several World Maps from the Yale Map Collection.) And it is here that the travel narrative becomes complex, more than a mere account of adventures in exotic lands. Because it captures for the reader the moment when an observer—with all of his or her cultural “baggage”—comes into contact with an alien people and environment, the travel narrative is a site of potent mystification and demystification. A traveler might see a new world through an essentially Euro-centric lens, reading it as a Terrestrial Paradise, or put two cultures in dialogue to critique European customs and failings, as Diderot does in his Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville. While many travelers sought to observe and record their experiences minutely and impartially, and offered their writings to contemporary readers on those terms, today we tend to take a more literary or interpretive approach to these texts and focus on the ways in which travel writers “construct” the cultures with which they come in contact (and what this reveals about their own culture). In effect, we read travel narratives against the grain, using them to travel imaginatively to the world—now remote and exotic—of their authors READING TRAVEL NARRATIVES. Keep in mind that, notwithstanding their basis in fact, travel narratives generally adhere to certain (literary) conventions and reveal the motives and anxieties of their authors. Ø Travel narratives provide detailed descriptions of manners and customs and use the author’s home culture as a point of reference. Generally meant to be informative, these comparisons may also serve to reassure or to frighten: the natives of X are (or are not) just like us. Indeed, we can read travel narratives in light of the psychoanalytic notion of the “Other”. To oversimplify a bit, the Other designates a being so different or alien as to become the object of our projections, fantasies, and even hostilities. Lest this notion seem recherchĂ©, you might think about how Native Americans get depicted in movies and nineteenth-century American literature. On some occasions, we meet “howling savages” who seem to have no reason for existing other than to murder, plunder, scalp, and/or rape hardy settlers; on other occasions, we meet philosophical souls whose wisdom is matched only by their ability to live in harmony with nature, etc. In both instances the Native American is the Other, not so much a human being as a projection of our anxieties or our beliefs about whether humanity in a state of nature is good or bad. Ø Travel narratives are generally informal and tend to depend on “eye witness” authority. While the reasons why an author of a travel narrative might choose to eschew “art” are fairly obvious, we need to be mindful that even the plainest of presentations will be closely tied to the author’s purpose or motivation, which may be commercial, social, scientific, or even philosophical. Narratives written by the first explorers to come to America, for instance, often emphasized (and sometimes exaggerated) the wealth of natural resources in order to recruit investors for additional voyages. Ø Finally, keep in mind that travel narratives—especially when they work by comparison—construct and comment on the home culture of their authors and narrators. Lest this idea seem unclear, you might think about Star Trek. Although Kirk declares during the opening theme music that the mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise is “To boldly go where no man has gone before,” you need only watch a few episodes to deduce that the show is almost always about problems on earth. Indeed, if you were sophisticated enough to notice that the Klingons looked a bit East Bloc, you could, as academics have done, read the show as a pop culture expression of the tensions of the Cold War, etc. A bit differently, because travel narratives cross boundaries of all kinds (national, religious, racial, gender, or class), they reveal how power is exercised in the creation and maintenance of these boundaries. DIDEROT AND MONTAGU: NOTE: This material (i.e., on Diderot and Montagu) is OPTIONAL, provided for those of you who would like to learn more about travel literature. Diderot’s Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Turkish Letters are useful examples of what we might call the critical and realistic strains of the travel narrative. Diderot’s text shows how Enlightenment intellectuals used foreign cultures to critique their own societies and is especially good in revealing how the Nature-Culture debate was framed. Montagu’s text likewise places two cultures in dialogue but does in a more realistic fashion while showing what it was to write as a woman (at a time when it was deemed inappropriate for women to publish if not to write). READING QUESTIONS: As you read Diderot and Montagu you might want to consider the following questions. Ø MONTAGU, The Turkish Letters. 1. How does Montagu’s choice of subjects or topics—clothing, food and dinner customs, marriage and hierarchical relations, the monetary worth of jewels and other luxuries—define and provide insight into English values? 2. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Montagu’s narrative is that it is told from the perspective of a female observer who has gained entrance to the “secret” spaces of the harem and mosque. What do her descriptions of the female Other reveal about: (a) Turkish culture, (b) her individual perspective and motivation, and c) the assumptions of her home culture regarding gender? 3. How does Montagu use her description to suggest her home culture might be improved? Ø DIDEROT, Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville. 1. What does Orou offer the Almoner? How does the Almoner respond? 2. What are the main points made in the dialogue that follows? That is, what arguments does Orou make about sexuality and religion? 3. What does the excerpt suggest about the competing claims of nature and culture? Which is better? Why? 4. As the editors of your text point out, this travel narrative takes the form of a philosophical dialogue. What advantages might there be for Diderot in presenting his opinions in this manner? 5. Is it fair to say that Diderot constructs the Tahitian Other as a noble savage in an idyllic “primitive” environment? If so, are there any problems or omissions in Diderot’s portrait? 6. Do Montagu and Diderot share similar purposes? How do the style, content, and message of the excerpts differ? What are some possible reasons for these differences? Would a woman have written the dialogue between Orou and Almoner? SOME RESOURCES FOR MONTAGU AND DIDEROT: Ø BOOKS (available in EJW Library) o Burke, Peter. A Social History of Knowledge : From Gutenberg to Diderot. 2000 o Fellows, Otis. Diderot. 1989. o Gibbs, Lewis. The Admirable Lady Mary: The Life and Times of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. 1949 o Ropes, Arthur, ed. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Select Passages from Her Letters. 190[ ]. Ø WEBSITES o The Literary Encyclopedia: A biographical article on Lady Montagu with links to entries about her work and other resources. Note: some of the links are still under construction. o Renascence Editions: A good selection of texts if you’d like to read more of Montagu’s work. Note: you probably won’t be able to find her work in area libraries. o The Literary Encyclopedia: A biographical article on Diderot with links to entries about his works and some other resources. Note: some of the links are still under construction. o EncyclopĂ©die (Wikipedia): An excellent linked encyclopedia article on Diderot’s EncyclopĂ©die with additional resources. o The Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert: Translation of the EncyclopĂ©die and some resources. return to top of page GULLIVER’S TRAVELS
 return to top of page INTRODUCTION. First published in 1726, Gulliver’s Travels was almost immediately popular and has since joined the canon of world classics. Adapting the popular genre of the travel narrative to his own purposes, Swift not only satirizes contemporary Europe (and especially England) but leads us to reflect on timeless questions about the nature of humanity as well. Because Gulliver’s Travels is an accessible and entertaining book, readers often underestimate its complexity, and I would urge you to recognize that Swift may well raise questions that he does not answer. I would also like you—at least as a point of departure—to be mindful of the ways in which it is a representative Enlightenment text. Some specific issues to keep in mind as you read: Ø Travel narrative. Although we come to Gulliver’s Travels already knowing the story of the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnms, Swift’s earliest readers did not, and much of the book’s effect derives from the ways in which it imitates the genre. Not only does the first edition look like a travel narrative (complete with maps), but Gulliver constantly compares his narrative with other travel narratives as well. If the structure of the travel narrative almost of necessity puts two cultures in dialogue—it is difficult to describe a foreign culture without revealing a great deal about one’s own values, biases, etc.—this is especially true in Gulliver’s Travels. Ø Satire. In the preface to The Battle of the Books, Swift famously characterized satire as “a sort of glass [i.e., a looking glass or mirror], wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own; which is the chief reason for that kind of reception it meets in the world, and that so very few are offended with it.” What he means—above and beyond the fact that fools generally do not realize they are fools—is that satire sets out to censure the follies and vices of society, usually through exaggeration. And since folly and vice imply a civilized social norm that should be adhered to, satire is arguably a conservative genre, one that recalls us to standards of truth, morality, and aesthetics. If you’ve ever seen Saturday Night Live—think, for instance of Darrell Hammond’s Bill Clinton, Will Ferrell’s George Bush, the absurd professorial “luvahs” Roger and Virginia, or Tim Meadows’ bit as “The Ladies’ Man”—you’re familiar with satire. Like most satirists Swift aims both to entertain and to reform. What makes the satire of Gulliver’s Travels complex and a bit more sophisticated than a Saturday Night Live sketch is that it is difficult to know just where Swift stands. Ø Utopianism. Put simply, a utopia is a perfect society, one somehow planned or engineered to avoid the problems—war, greed, disease, etc.—that afflict most societies. If the most famous utopia in Western civilization is that outlined in Plato’s Republic, utopian speculations were given new life in the Renaissance as explorers discovered new worlds and again in the Enlightenment as thinkers embraced a rationalistic worldview and adopted a belief in progress. Houyhnhnmland is clearly meant as a sort of Enlightenment utopia: the Houyhnhnms live according to the dictates of Reason, practice the virtues of friendship and benevolence, and value what looks like neoclassical poetry. They are temperate in matters of diet, arrange their marriages, and practice eugenics, etc. The Yahoos, by contrast, are an image of degraded humanity; they have all the human failings unchecked by the action of Reason. Swift uses the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnms to anatomize the virtues and vices of humanity and to show utopian and dystopian social arrangements. The problem, of course, is whether Houyhnhnmland is really a utopia. A society comprised of masters and servants distinguishable by color seems racist, not utopian. So, too, the Houyhnhnm construction of family life—which features arranged and largely sexless marriages, a robust eugenics program, Spartan discipline for the young, and an apparent indifference to death—seems less not more than human. Finally, although the Yahoos have little to recommend them, the Houyhnhnms’ deliberations are about genocide. While the ambiguity of Houyhnhnmland is doubtless in part intended by Swift (more about this in a minute), it is also likely attributable to a sort of inherent structural problem with utopianism. Modern readers of the Republic, for instance, might find it troubling and all too familiar that Plato’s ideal polity should require both a founding lie and the order-keeping efforts of a group know as the guardians. More generally, as anyone familiar with the prospective imaginings of science fiction knows, the attempt to engineer a perfect social order almost inevitably turns repressive if not totalitarian. Ø Reason. While the Houyhnhnms are an emblem of Reason, and Gulliver becomes their apologist and propagandist, Gulliver’s Travels does not simply provide us with a rationalist template against which to measure the failings of (European) man. Far from it. The book is elusive because it invites us to share Gulliver’s judgments and his view of the world only to reveal that he is not reliable. In chapter 10, for instance, Gulliver explains that his admiration for the Houyhnhnms was so great that he could not bear to see his own image in a pool of water and even adopted the gait of a horse. If the Gulliver we see at the end of Book IV is insane, as some critics claim, how reliable is his narrative? And to what extent should we assume that he speaks for Swift? READING QUESTIONS: Ø Chapter One 1. Why do the opening pages of Part IV seem like an authentic travel narrative? 2. In what ways does Gulliver show himself to be a traveler of his day? What assumptions does he use to negotiate an unknown terrain? 3. After observing the Houyhnhnms for a time, Gulliver concludes that they must be magicians. What do you think of his conclusion? Ø Chapter Two 1. How does this chapter imitate and parody traditional travel narratives? 2. At the end of the chapter, Gulliver explains why he has spent so long talking about his diet. Does this explanation make him see more or less credible? Ø Chapter Three 1. What is “the thing which was not”? Why does the Houyhnhnm language require this cumbersome phrase? Ø Chapter Four 1. When Gulliver recounts the treatment of horses in Europe, his master is indignant. Should we share this indignation? Or is the Houyhnhnm caught in the web of the text’s satire as well? 2. At the end of the chapter Gulliver explains that he needed “many circumlocutions” to describe the various crimes committed by humanity? Why is this so? Ø Chapter Five 1. Why does Swift—through Gulliver’s description—defamiliarize the terms of religious controversy? 2. Read Gulliver’s catalog of weapons (p. 368) aloud. What is the effect of such a long, specific list? 3. Can you relate Swift manipulations of language to those of the lawyers he criticizes? Ø Chapter Six 1. Why does Swift put an account of lawyers’ misuse of language next to a description of the effects of money? How are money and language similar? 2. Why are so many Europeans unwell? 3. Can you connect Gulliver’s description of the bodies of ill individuals with his picture of a diseased body politic? Ø Chapter Seven 1. How seriously should we take the Houyhnhnm’s analysis of Gulliver’s story? 2. How seriously should we take Gulliver’s protestation of love for his country? Ø Chapters Eight-Nine 1. Does the Houyhnhnm society seem like a utopia to you? Why or why not? 2. What is your reaction to the Houyhnhnms’ debate about whether to exterminate the Yahoos? Does their ability to have this discussion suggest a potential criticism of Reason? Ø Chapter Ten 1. Are there any details in this chapter that make you doubt Gulliver’s reliability as a narrator? (Hint: Look carefully at he passage where he describes his reaction to seeing his reflection in a lake or fountain. Better yet, look at the “last particular” he mentions at the end of the chapter.) Ø Chapter Eleven 1. How does Swift return us to the world of a more or less normal travel narrative? Ø Chapter Twelve 1. What is the effect of Gulliver’s allusion to Sinon? (Hint: Follow the analogy through; if Gulliver is Sinon, Houyhnhnmland is ________.) 2. How should we interpret Gulliver’s return to family life? 3. How does Swift—through Gulliver—articulate a position against colonialism? SOME RESOURCES FOR SWIFT AND GULLIVER’S TRAVELS: Ø BOOKS (available in EJW Library) o Bloom, Harold. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels [electronic resource]. 1996 o Brady, Frank. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Gulliver’s Travels. 1968. o Erskine-Hill, Howard. Jonathan Swift: Gulliver’s Travels. 1993. o Glendinning, Victoria. Jonathan Swift: A Portrait. 1999. o Smith, Frederik. The Genres of Gulliver’s Travels. 1990 Ø WEBSITES o Jonathan Swift: An encyclopedia entry from Wikipedia with lots of links to Swift’s writings. o Jonathan Swift: Brought to you by the Victorian Web, this site features a variety of useful topics and links. o Gulliver’s Travels: A good brief overview, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Swift and/or Gulliver’s Travels. o Introduction to Jonathan Swift: User-friendly introduction (also available as a video). If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to message me or drop by my office (PUMC 254). GOOD LUCK AND HAVE A GOOD WEEK! return to top of page

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