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The Art of Defamiliarization in Gulliver’s Travels

Author ZhangYingChun
Tutor ZhaoXiuFu
School Shandong University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travls defamiliarization aesthetic distance
CLC I561.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
Downloads 102
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Jonathan Swift was a famous writer in18th century Britain. Gulliver’s Travels is the masterpiece of Jonathan Swift. At the present day, the novel hasn’t lost its significance and can also be regarded as one of the outstanding novels in world literature treasure-house. Gulliver’s Travels was first published on Oct.28th,1726. From then on, the studies of the book have been booming. However, few scholars have studied Gulliver s Travels from the theoretical perspective of Defamiliarization. This paper attempts to provide a new approach to the interpretation of the novel by analyzing the novel from the perspective of defamiliarization technique.Following a brief introduction to the research work of the novel and the theory of Defamiliarization advocated by Victor Shklovsky is the main body of the paper that consists of four chapters:Chapter one focuses on the technique of defamiliarization in narrative strategies. In Gulliver’s Travels, through creating four defamiliarized spaces, adopting restricted omniscient narrative perspective and inserting peculiar narrators, Swift narrated a legendary story full of suspenses for readers.Chapter two explores the defamiliarization of language in Gulliver s Travels from three aspects:strong perceptibility achieved by using the technique of defamiliarization, rhetoric, and defamiliarization on vocabulary.Chapter three introduces the defamiliarization in artistic images. Artistic images in Lilliput and in Brobdingnag just rest on the external level, whereas the defamiliarization of artistic images in part three and in part not only rest on their countenances, but goes much deeper into inner level.Chapter four introduces defamilirization and aesthetic distance. In Gulliver s Travels, by using defamiliarized language, Swift created four strange spaces full of defamiliarized images, which added a sense of mystery into the novel and successfully prolonged the aesthetic distance between readers and the novel. If the aesthetic distance is under-distanced, literary works will be lack of literariness and readers will not enjoy it as art. However, if the aesthetic distance is over-distanced, readers will not get aesthetic feelings either, because literary works will seem to be too artificial and absurd. Swift controlled the aesthetic distance between his novel and readers properly in two ways:one is rooting the plots in Gulliver s Travels on reality and above reality; the other is making the fantasy plots believable by using a large quantity of accurate data in his detailed description. While reading the novel, readers can not only immerse in the imaginary world the author created elaborately, but also can see clearly the hypocrisy of the establishment and degenerated human nature.Based on the analysis of the above four chapters, this thesis reaches a conclusion that the high literary value of the art of satire in Gulliver’s Travels attributes to the art of defamiliarization contained in the novel.

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