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The book begins with a short preamble in which Lemuel Gulliver, in the style of books of the time, gives a brief outline of his life and history before his voyages. He enjoys travelling, although it is that love of travel that is his downfall.
During his first voyage, Gulliver is washed ashore after a shipwreck and finds himself a prisoner of a race of tiny people, less than 6 inches tall, who are inhabitants of the island country of Lilliput. After giving assurances of his good behaviour, he is given a residence in Lilliput and becomes a favourite of the court.
From there, the book follows Gulliver's observations on the Court of Lilliput. He is also given the permission to roam around the city on a condition that he must not harm their subjects. Gulliver assists the Lilliputians to subdue their neighbours, the Blefuscudians, by stealing their fleet. However, he refuses to reduce the island nation of Blefuscu to a province of Lilliput, displeasing the King and the court.
Gulliver is charged with treason for, among other "crimes", "making water" in the capital (even though he was putting out a fire and saving countless lives). He is convicted and sentenced to be blinded, but with the assistance of a kind friend, he escapes to Blefuscu. Here he spots and retrieves an abandoned boat and sails out to be rescued by a passing ship, which safely takes him back home.
This book of the Travels is a topical political satire.
Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.
He is remembered for works such as Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier's Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms – such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, MB Drapier – or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.
Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland. He was the second child and only son of Jonathan Swift (1640–1667) and his wife Abigail Erick (or Herrick), of Frisby on the Wreake. His father, a native of Goodrich, Herefordshire, accompanied his brothers to Ireland to seek their fortunes in law after their Royalist father's estate was brought to ruin during the English Civil War. Swift's father died in Dublin before he was born, and his mother returned to England. He was left in the care of his influential uncle, Godwin, a close friend and confidant of Sir John Temple, whose son later employed Swift as his secretary.
Swift's family had several interesting literary connections: His grandmother, Elizabeth (Dryden) Swift, was the niece of Sir Erasmus Dryden, grandfather of the poet John Dryden. The same grandmother's aunt, Katherine (Throckmorton) Dryden, was a first cousin of Elizabeth, wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. His great-great grandmother, Margaret (Godwin) Swift, was the sister of Francis Godwin, author of The Man in the Moone which influenced parts of Swift's Gulliver's Travels. His uncle, Thomas Swift, married a daughter of the poet and playwright Sir William Davenant, a godson of William Shakespeare.
In February 1702, Swift received his Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College, Dublin. That spring he travelled to England and returned to Ireland in October, accompanied by Esther Johnson—now 20—and his friend Rebecca Dingley, another member of William Temple's household. There is a great mystery and controversy over Swift's relationship with Esther Johnson nicknamed "Stella". Many, notably his close friend Thomas Sheridan believed that they were secretly married in 1716; others, like Swift's housekeeper Mrs Brent, and Rebecca Dingley (who lived with Stella all through her years in Ireland) dismissed the story as absurd.