Answers

2016-03-12T11:23:01+05:30
It is no longer the fashion in critical circles to believe that Swift was insane when he wrote the fourth book of Gulliver's Travels. Thanks to the acute insight of a number of our contemporaries, we are now invited to see that Gulliver himself was the mad party. As a consequence we are to regard Gulliver as ridiculous, a figure of fun. This conclusion derives from the premise, if Swift were not mad, Gulliver must have been, because only a madman could have held such a low opinion of human beings as that developed in the fourth book. A number of present-day commentators on Swift would then, in a word, have someone mad, for such deep-dyed misanthropy is the same thing as madness.' Basing an argument on an alternative proposition can, however, be dangerous. In the present instance the critics have overlooked a third possibility, namely, that their own brains have undergone an unlucky shake, that in them fancy has got astride of reason and that consequently common understanding, as well as common sense, has been kicked out of doors. It will be one of the purposes of this paper to suggest that Gulliver was not mad and therefore not a comic figure; rather that he made valid inferences about human nature from the evidence before him and so was as sane as his creator, or as you or I for that matter. I do not make this attempt on the principle that an ounce of my own wit is worth a ton of anyone else's, but on the grounds of the evidence and of what I conceive to be the nature of satire, neither of which considerations has anything novel about it.
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