Gulliver's Travels - the Houyhnhnms

Background

In 1719 Daniel Defoe's story Robinson Crusoe explored the possibility of a solitary utopia.

Seven years later the poet, clergyman and satirist Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) published Gulliver's Travels - a satire on the society of the day and a warning about human folly.

Gulliver's Travels comprises four books. In each Lemuel Gulliver embarks on a voyage and is cast upon a strange land.

In the first book he becomes the giant prisoner of the six inch high Lilliputians. In the second he arrives in Brobdingnag -a land of giants. Book three takes Gulliver to Laputa, a floating island whose inhabitants are so preoccupied with higher speculations that they are in constant danger of collision.

In book four, Gulliver travels to the utopian island of the Houyhnhnms; grave and rational horses devoid of any passion, even sexual desire. The island is also inhabited by Yahoos - vicious and repulsive creatures used by the Houyhnhnms for menial work. Gulliver initially pretends not to recognize the Yahoos, but eventually admits that they are human beings.

Gulliver himself, and each of the populations encountered by him, can be identified with distinct aspects of contemporary society and human nature.

Taken from: Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World
Author / Creator: Jonathan Swift
Publisher: Benje Motte
Date: 1726
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: 012614.a.52