83 - A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms

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Gulliver’s Travels (1726) is a satire of contemporary England dressed up as a faux traveller’s tale by Jonathan Swift, narrating in the first person the voyages of one Lemuel Gulliver. The book, divided in four parts, tells of Gulliver’s shipwreck on Lilliput (which is inhabited by people no more than 15 cm tall), abandonment in Brobdingnag (where giants of 22 metres tall live), rescue by the flying island of Laputa, trip to Balnibarbi (where science is pursued without practical ends) and finally his voyage to the country of the Houyhnhnms.


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These Houyhnhnms are horses that rule over Yahoos, who are deformed, debased humans. Gulliver sides with the horses, comes to despise the humans, but in the end is expelled. Upon his return to England, Gulliver can no longer stand the company of ‘Yahoos’, and becomes a recluse, preferring the company of his horses.

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The island of the Houyhnhnms is apparently situated close to the recently explored continent of Australia (or ‘New Holland’, as it was then known), evidenced by the many Dutch names on the mainland visible on this map, e.g. Nuyts Land, Maelsuyker Island, De Wits Island.

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This map found on this page at the British Library.

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