This illustration, with its unique ink and watercolor style, was created by the great British artist, Arthur Rackham (c. 1867–1939). He produced this peculiar artwork for a 1909 reprint of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, which was originally published in 1726. Displayed here is the opening scene of Gulliver’s odd series of adventures, in which, after being shipwrecked and left adrift in the ocean, Gulliver washed up on the shore of a mysterious island. He quickly passed out due to his exhaustion, but the shipwrecked sailor soon awoke to the feeling of small creatures scurrying to-and-fro over his various limbs. When he tried to move, he found himself tied to the ground by a network of little strands crisscrossing his body. Worst of all, when Gulliver began to struggle against the restraints, arrows began raining down, piercing him all over. Fortunately, these arrows did no more damage than splinters, for the locals who were firing the projectiles were miniature humanoids who measured in at approximately the height of a shoe. After much negotiation, and a few more volleys of arrows, Gulliver was eventually hired by his captors, who called themselves Lilliputians. From there, a series of humorous and satirical events ensued, revolving around Gulliver’s experiences as a giant in a land of little people—at least until his next adventure brought him to different lands with vastly different peoples.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. New York: Washington Square Press, 1970.