Jean-Georges Vibert, Gulliver and the Lilliputians (around 1870)
I want to talk about Gulliver’s Travels. It’s a novel written by Jonathan Swift, and published in 1726. It’s a classic of English Literature. I think most of you know this story but I really liked this story when I was younger. I’m sure this picture reminds you something ! Gulliver’s Travels appears for the first time in French under the title of Voyages du capitaine Lemuel Gulliver. Through this fiction, Jonathan Swift makes a satire of the society of his time. In fact, in this novel, he makes fun of the English society in which he belonged. This nivel, written in the firt person, is divided into four parts. In fact, there are as many parts as Gulliver’s travels. My favorite of them is the Journey to Lilliput, and I think it’s also the most famous.
Lemuel Gulliver is a naval surgeon. After a shipwreck, he finds himself on the island of Lilliput. He is chained and driven in this state further on the island. He discovers the inhabitants of the island, the Lilliputians who are tiny creatures. On Lilliput’s island, the reader discovers a much more advanced society than England at Swift’s time. However, there is a war between the Lilliputians and the inhabitants of the neighboring island, Blefuscu. The reason of this war is absurd : the king of Blefuscu’s island wants to impose the side they must break a boiled egg. This passage is fun and denounces the absurdity of war. In his second travel, Gulliver is faced with the opposite situation: people of Brobdingnag are giants. Because of his small size, Gulliver becomes an object of curiosity for the king, the queen and the court. The last two Gulliver’s travels are not really known.
Gulliver, a brave explorer, discovers on the occasion of his maritime expeditions, strange and fascinating people. Swift talks about the problems of the society of his time, symbolically, through the various characters who appear throughout the story, and through situations where he places his hero, Gulliver. Whenever Gulliver returned to England, is to leave the country as soon as possible and go sailing on the seas.
Gulliver’s Travels refer to imagination and dreams through descritpions of imaginary countries. That’s why they are often read to children as real fairy tales. This story continues to fascinate and seduce readers. There are many adaptations of this novel (cinema, theater, comics…).
Giu-Pin illustrated a comic based on Gulliver’s travels but he has also illustrated a version of Robinson Crusoe, another voyage story, written by Daniel Defoe.