When Swift published a later edition of Gulliver’s Travels (1735) with George Faulkner, a Dublin publisher he could trust not to excise his work as Benjamin Motte, the work’s first publisher, had done, he added a prefatory letter from his fictional captain to his (also fictional) publisher, Sympson. This letter altered the entire work in a number of significant ways. The Gulliver who speaks here is recognisably the same Gulliver who, on his return from Houyhnhnmland at the end of the book, prefers the company of horses to that of his wife. His contempt for humans is evident in the short extract which serves as an epigraph to this chapter: how could human Nature be degraded, contemptible as it already is, argues Gulliver. Reading this letter as an introduction to all of the four voyages casts doubt from the very first on his reliability as narrator. Can the Gulliver who journeys to Lilliput and Brobdingnag be in his right mind? Perhaps all of the voyages are delusional, the crazy speculations of a crazed mind?
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- Gulliver’s Travels: Ceding Interpretations
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