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THE STORY - SUMMARY AND NOTES
The long, involved description of the physical intricacies of the flying island is another instance of Swift providing "documentation" for something outlandish. The superdetailed, rather dull and wooden description of the flying island and what makes it fly is Swift's parody of the typical paper published in Transactions, the journal of the Royal Society. The Royal Society was and is made up of scientists and academics engaged in research. Swift thought a lot of experiments underwritten in his time by the Society frivolous in the extreme. You'll see more stringent proof of this later.
Think back to the Brobdingnagian style of government. When the king of Laputa has to handle rebellious subjects-a problem the king of Brobdingnag never faces, since he has no colonies-he has two means of quelling the insurrection. He can keep the island hovering over the troublesome town(s) so that they are deprived of sunlight and rain. This has comparatively mild consequences, "death and diseases." He can also have the island descend directly onto the region, crushing all life there. The king seldom resorts to this, however, because he wouldn't want to be deprived the riches of his colonies, and more important, he wouldn't want to damage the underside of the island. Contrast this to the Brobdingnagian way of rule.
Gulliver tells us of an incident that almost put an end to the Laputan monarchy.
Lindalino, a city within the kingdom, was in revolt against the monarch.
At the center of the city, they erected a tower, on top of which was a
lodestone piled with a "most combustible fuel" which would burn
the island if it came too near.
The four paragraphs recounting this incident were excised from all versions of the Travels until 1899, for fear of government reprisals against Swift.
The Lindalino (this city stands for Dublin) incident is an allegorical account of the Irish campaign against the introduction of a debased currency (dubbed in Swift's letters against the project "the most combustible fuel," meaning that it would ignite a huge rebellion) into Ireland. An ironmonger by the name of William Wood had obtained permission for his project from George I. The project never went through, owing in great measure to Swift's outraged public letters.
Gulliver gets sick of Laputa, complaining that the inhabitants paid too little attention to him since he's universed in music and mathematics. He goes to Balnibarbi.
There, Gulliver is hosted by Lord Munodi, whose name Swift may have taken from the Latin mundum odi ("I hate the world"). Some critics believe that the Lord represents Oxford and/or Bolingbroke. These men were out of step with the tenor of their times, but Swift was a close friend of theirs and admired them both.
Lord Munodi lives in a gorgeous palace with beautifully cultivated grounds. Not far from where he lives, however, are lands that lie fallow. The Academy of Projectors (a projector is someone given to impractical and visionary projects, and the academy is a parody of the Royal Society) had taken charge of the lands on which nothing would grow-their state is an indication of their agricultural "state of the art." Projectors' houses are also built according to "the most advanced formulas" (Swift's irony is obvious). Lord Munodi's house is very beautifully and solidly constructed, but Projectors hold him in contempt for living in an old place. Projectors, for whom "progress" is everything, have little need for tradition, and even less respect for it.
The building housing the academy is another testament to their know-how. Near the building was a working mill. The projectors decided they could better it according to one of their theories, and now the mill is bone dry. The projectors, of course, blamed the man who had donated the property. Swift's message here is that the projectors are not only unfit for any useful purpose, they are blind to the fact to boot, and vindictive.