A Swift Reading

Judging by my last write-up on Peter Falk, and on this one, I’ve really got to get my posts out quicker. On Friday, the 1st of July (yes, that’s over a week ago), Maedhbh and I were in Trim to take part in an event for the Trim Swift Festival.
The festival celebrates the life, works and the legacy of Jonathan Swift, the man who wrote – among other things – the wonderful ‘Gulliver’s Travels’. The bit we were taking part in was a public reading of the entire novel, over three days, in aid of the charity, Aware. It took fifteen hours in total, with each reader having their turn to sit in a car on Market Street. You paid to take part, and people paid to listen, and readers got a certificate when they finished their bit. It wasn’t exactly Live Aid, but it was a nice idea, and one I think could be done on a bigger, more refined scale.
I read the full novel years ago, when I was going through a classics phase – I had a longer attention span back then, partly because I didn’t have kids, partly because I didn’t have a television, and partly because I was working twelve-hour night-shifts in London as a security guard.
Reading a small piece of it again reminded me how much I enjoyed it. It’s very sharp, and laugh-out-loud funny in places. If you’ve only heard about Lemuel Gulliver’s travels to Lilliput and Brobdingnag, then you’ve only heard half the story. There’s also a floating city full of scientists and artists, and a race of very civilized horses. Those bits tend to get left out of the abridged versions of the story. Like most books from that time, modern readers often find the original ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ a bit wordy and convoluted (I know I did), but it’s smart, witty, satirical, absurd, and occasionally obscene. And many of the things he was taking the piss out of then are still around now. Society obviously didn’t get the message.
If you haven’t read the full novel already, find yourself a copy, take a breath, and plunge in.