Having finished the new John Grisham novel, and having then re-read an old one on the shelves in my Paris apartment, I was casting about for something else with which to pass the time. I toyed with the idea of improving my French by continuing to read Marx's CAPITAL in the French translation [I am at the moment on page 141] when it occurred to me that it might be fun to re-visit GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. I read it more than sixty years ago, as a boy, and though I recall a good deal of the story [who cannot?], and know in a general way that it is a biting satire of English life and politics in the 18th century, I did not have the language in my head.
Sure enough, it is available on-line, and I have now started reading it on my Paris laptop. I am only a few pages into Book One -- Gulliver has awakened to find himself tied down by the slender threads of the Liliputians -- but already, the wit and acerbity of the satire is a delight. In these absurd and dangerous times, when reality threatens to make satire impossible, it is good to return to one of the immortal masters of the genre.
At seventy-eight, I have long since put aside my youthful dreams of a just and rational society. But if I cannot change the world, I can at least in my mind expose the follies and evils that flourish these days.