Gulliver and Huckleberry
[ Issue 27 ]

Gulliver and Huckleberry brings Emily Bronto much happiness

Permit Bikwil to reveal the delights of Gulliver and Huckleberry

Gulliver and Huckleberry

In this piece Fizzgig shows us the similarities between Swift's Gulliver and Twain's Hucklberry.

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From the Back Verandah — Fizzgig


If I asked you what novelists Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) and Mark Twain (1835-1910) had in common, you’d probably reply that they both wrote very popular books for juveniles.

The truth is, however, that neither Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) nor Twain’s two most famous books (Tom Sawyer, 1876, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884) were written for young readers at all — unlike most other “children’s literature”.

Swift, for example, was first and foremost a satirist — and a merciless one at that, bitterly hating anything that smacked of hypocrisy and oppression. Gulliver’s Travels was thus intended as a relentless satire on international politics, war, science and travel writing.

With that in mind, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it, what Swift would make of the fact that his novel (especially the first part, about Lilliput) has been appropriated by an audience of children. And this, even though there is much in Gulliver’s Travels that children simply cannot understand. They have accepted what they like in it and ignored what they don’t.

Mark Twain wrote Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn for adults too. Yet they seem destined to endure as captivating yarns for children, largely because of the adventure and fun they contain and their colourful characters — notably their mischievous heroes, who are hardly the stuff of the then prevalent moralistic “Sunday School” stories.

Huckleberry Finn, in particular, was quite serious in intent, in spite of its humour, in so far as Mark Twain was using it as a vehicle to attack corruption, cruelty and prejudice. Believe it or not, this masterpiece was actually banned from the Brooklyn New York Public Library Children’s Room for a time. A decision, apparently, that Twain vigorously supported.

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