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Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels

by Jonathan Swift

Literature and Writing Quotes

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Quote #10

In poetry, they must be allowed to excel all other mortals; wherein the justness of their similes, and the minuteness as well as exactness of their descriptions, are indeed inimitable. Their verses abound very much in both of these, and usually contain either some exalted notions of friendship and benevolence or the praises of those who were victors in races and other bodily exercises. (4.9.7)

The Houyhnhnms compose great poetry, which Gulliver admires for its exact truthfulness. But isn't this all a bit odd? Gulliver loves the Houyhnhnms' oral compositions and enjoys their poetry on friendship and benevolence. But Gulliver's Travels is nearly 300 pages of written text, and his own focus is on the lack of friendship and benevolence among humans. For a convert to Houyhnhnm philosophy, Gulliver doesn't exactly practice what they preach.

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