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  • Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce

  • By: Jonathan Swift
  • Narrated by: David Hyde Pierce
  • Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (380 ratings)

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Editor reviews

Gulliver’s encounters with fantastic peoples and creatures - from the small-statured Lilliputians to the stargazing Liputians - reach to the far corners of the world. As narrator, David Hyde Pierce wonderfully captures the wit and irony of this much-loved classic. Despite Gulliver’s detailed, and sometimes cumbersome, descriptions of strange lands and their inhabitants, Pierce doesn’t miss a beat. His melodic voice wraps perfectly around Swift’s eighteenth-century language. His pronunciations of the imaginative languages are delightful, especially the neighing expressions of the Houyhnhnms, a utopian society of horses. Pierce’s consistently matter-of-fact tone fits Swift’s own. His reading highlights the author’s humor and sarcasm, pulling the listener into this fantastic journey.

Summary

Four-time Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce is famous for playing the lovably self-important Dr. Niles Crane in the hit TV series Frasier. Now, he brings the same wit and charming arrogance to his Signature Classics performance of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

More than just a mock travel book and fabulous adventure, Gulliver’s Travels is a character study and social satire that skewers politics, science, religion, philosophy, and pretentiousness with a bite and resonance that remains as fresh today as the day it was published. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t been out of print in nearly 300 years.

Set sail with David Hyde Pierce for a smart, fun, new Gulliver’s Travels experience that’s unlike any other. And stay tuned for more one-of-a-kind performances from actors Leelee Sobiesky, Casey Affleck, Tim Curry, and more, only from Audible Signature Classics.

Public Domain (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Despite Gulliver’s detailed, and sometimes cumbersome, descriptions of strange lands and their inhabitants, Pierce doesn’t miss a beat. His melodic voice wraps perfectly around Swift’s eighteenth-century language. His pronunciations of the imaginative languages are delightful, especially the neighing expressions of the Houyhnhnms, a utopian society of horses. In a book in which the author’s voice comes through on every page, Pierce’s consistently matter-of-fact tone fits Swift’s own. His reading highlights the author’s humor and sarcasm, pulling the listener into this fantastic journey." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Lively and unusual

I chose this audiobook because I took advantage of the 'free first chapter' offer and then couldn't resist getting the rest. I had read a child's version of Gulliver's Travels when I was about seven, and although I enjoyed it at the time, I've often wondered what the original is like.

And it's great! Most people know about Lilliput etc, but the rest makes for just as compulsive listening - if not more so. It was both funny, clever and thought provoking. It is obvious that the book makes many political points which will be most meaningful to those with the appropriate historical knowledge (which I don't really have), but even so I found the humour and sharpness in it very effective and, interestingly, several of the comments seemed pertinent to our laws/politicians etc today!

I thought it was superbly read, even though the English accent as portrayed by an American was slightly odd at times. But that didn't matter at all as it was read in such a lively and spirited manner. And his mastery of the many, many nonsense names made me want to laugh/cheer out loud! If you do choose this book, make sure you stick it to the end as the reading of the last section is brilliant. Full marks, I really enjoyed it.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

DHP's accent is a distraction

What would have made Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce better?

The performance would be much improved by David Hyde Pierce *not* adopting a faux English accent. For one thing the accent he tries to emulate is what I would call "Oxford English", which is not really appropriate for Swift (nor for Gulliver, who is meant to hail from Nottingham). And for another I'm afraid the quite frequent interpolation of a somewhat different accent (Yorkshire?) into occasional syllables means the performance just gets in the way of the text. I enjoy Mr. Pierce as a character actor but someone should disabuse him of the notion that he can carry an extended pastiche like this for very long. I gave up after 2 chapters.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce?

Didn't get far enough to have an opinion.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The shaky attempt at an English accent makes the listening experience hard work.

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Simply brilliant.

David Hyde Pierce brings this famous title alive with his narration. Hard to believe this was written so many years ago. As relevant now as it ever was. It should be required reading for everyone.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Two lovely stores and two satirical

What did you like most about Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce?

Fantastic, every time he "pronounced" the "words" of the different worlds I could barley keep myself from laughing out loud.

What did you like best about this story?

The first two was clearly the best, the satirical tone was turned on at the end of the of the second book. The dialog with the king of Brobdingnag was just a bash of his culture

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The way he saved the queen when he was on the island of Lilliput

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The strange relation he had to his human wife. Who would accept there significant other to go away for year after almost dying two times?!

Any additional comments?

Easy to recommend this book, was great but its obvious Swift show little respect and appropriation for royalty and lawyers.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

great stuff well read

David Hp has the perfect voice for this story. An elegant sneer that keeps the story rolling.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Novel - essential reading for all

Excellent Novel - essential reading for all

Very well narrated - a true classic

Most enjoyable

JBW

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A True Classic

Evocatively written. The style and reader are beautifully matched. So much more to it than an old book for kids - which is what I have always thought it was.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Highly enjoyable

Really enjoyed this reading. 'Niles Crane' makes an excellent narrator, although his fake posh English accent sometimes slips up. Had never read the story of Gulliver before, and think that listening to it probably added an edge to the irony and veiled sarcasm which reading may not have. Thoroughly recommended

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book

This book essentially plays out as a personal diary over a handful of adventures.
Do note this book is more a political commentary than anything else, it uses the medium of the strange people and how they are different from ourselves to criticize and occasionally praise our society.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Thah was hard work

This book felt like a chore and, when I thought it had ended, I was only half way through.

The narrator was ideal for the book, but the narrative is tortuously aged and the story is bizarre without holding any intrigue or underlying plot (appreciating that this was meant to be satire).

In essence, Gulliver repeatedly left his family, travelled, met fantastically strange people whom he described in excessive detail and went home.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rose
  • 16-01-11

Loved every minute

Gulliver's Travels has been a classic but somewhat overlooked read for many years, perhaps because of its supposed complexity. Still, it is an incredbly imaginative series of voyages and adventures to strange and wonderful places (a matter of opinion of course), and the superb writing and imagination on display in this Swift Classic can not be denied.

Jonathan Swift's masterful descriptions of distant island lands, their inhabitants, strange customs, and Gulliver's perceptions and treatment in each place is extaordinary. Yet, not to be ignored are the underlying political and moral aspects which are woven throughtout the text, and in some cases, existant in today's politics and, surprisingly, our society. In many ways futuristic, Jonathan Swift proves a master of imagination and human behavior.

Equally outstanding; and handled deftly, is Mr. Pierce's interpretive reading of the text. Performed with an English accent, and with undeniable superlative vocal skill, Mr. Pierce ushers us through each new voyage with such ease and understanding, that one wonders if Swift weren't whispering direction in his ear. What can understandably be a complex and confusing read, is made entertaining and easily pictured in the mind's eye of the reader when put in Mr. Pierce's very talented hands. I can imagine no one better to have narrated such a grand selection as Gulliver's Travels.

33 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Shane
  • 31-03-13

A Timeless Tale For Children and Adults

Would you consider the audio edition of Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce to be better than the print version?

I usually prefer a printed version for the books I read for a class.But when I began to read Gulliver's Travels for a class, I realized that it would most likely be amazing on audiobook, and I was right! Immediately my pronunciations and comprehension of this book increased.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce?

As a child I remember reading condensed and sensitized versions of this story, and now as an adult, I began to see more of the true story. Every time a somewhat inappropriate part came on, I was shocked into laughter. Don't get me wrong, the full version is still very appropriate for children in my opinion, but it creates a more enjoyable experience for more mature audiences as well.

Any additional comments?

This timeless story was one of the more enjoyable listens I have had. The narrator does a great job of using his voice to create a visual of the locations but the time period as well. I would most likely not listen to this again, simply because of the length and lack of the action that I prefer in a book. As for recommending this book, I would only suggest it to someone with a very patient love of classics.

27 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joel D Offenberg
  • 29-01-11

Wonderfully Done!

The book is a classic (more than just the 'Lilliput' story that gets turned into cartoons or comic movies every so often)...social commentary and satire disguised as a traditional travelogue. David Hyde Pierce is a brilliant narrator and excellent for this piece.

24 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 11-05-15

It Appears that I'm a Yahoo, too.

This book did very little for me in high school, so when it was offered as a Daily Deal in July of last year I leapt at the chance to see if several decades of experience in the world would change my tepid adolescent reaction. It is, after all, one of our Classics, a work that needs to be in everyone’s mental arsenal. The adolescent me was vapid and shallow. Surely, I’d get more out of the experience now.

Nope. I’m still as vapid and shallow as ever.

Yes, I “get” the book. That’s the whole problem. Gulliver’s Travels is one of those books whose point is so obvious that the reader (or listener) realizes very early on that that copy of Cliff’s Notes won’t be necessary. Yes, we humans are horrible, contradictory creatures worthy of ridicule. Our manners and mores can be held up for constant criticism. Our wars are nothing more than wastes of resources. Our pride is pointless. The grandest among us is nothing more than a Lilliputian or Yahoo in disguise. And to make the thing even more hopelessly horrible Gulliver, in his final contempt for his own species, becomes even more contemptible than you or me.

Gullible Gulliver is Everyman, taking in all he sees and hears uncritically, much as I did in my first Political Science class in high school. I was by turns a dedicated Hobbesian, a committed Marxist, a zealous Jeffersonian, depending on what we happened to be reading that week. In Gulliver’s case, “we” (you and me, the reader or listener) get the ironies, but the pleasure derived from the exercise soon palls.

There is also some annoying Enlightenment oversimplification at work here, especially in matters of religion. The essential dispute between Protestants and Catholics—the different understandings of Jesus’ words, “This is my body”—is lampooned as a disagreement about the best way to attack a soft-boiled egg. As silly and pointless as many human activities can admittedly be, this isn’t one of them. Yes, I enjoyed the picture of Balnibarbi’s blind pursuit of “science” as possibly Swift’s most “relevant” commentary for our Modern Times (a passage that probably provokes the scientifically-minded as much as the Big-and-Little-Endians chafed me). Swift seems to be criticizing everything and defending nothing—except possibly human reason. But by the end we humans are revealed as nothing but Yahoos in fancy dress.

Maybe that’s what’s at the heart of my dislike of this book—the sense in the end that nothing really matters. Certainly that’s how Gulliver feels by the end. Cast out of Houyhnhnm society on the charge that he is nothing more than a dressed-up Yahoo, he holds no grudge but accepts their verdict with nary a shadow of resentment. In fact, he spends the last pages pining for their society and counting the ways that England falls short of that equine paradise. Maybe I do need some Cliff’s Notes after all, because I really have no idea how I am supposed to react. Is Gulliver a complete fool? Are the just criticisms of society made throughout the book to be believed? Has Gulliver just taken them too far? Unfortunately, after contemplating these questions for a few minutes I have to admit I don’t really care.

Even David Hyde Pierce’s performance is something of a disappointment. An actor who could wring the last fluid ounce of humor out of the briefest remark on “Frasier”, his effort here seems lackluster. Maybe Swift’s writing gave him nothing to hold on to (a distinct possibility). Or, maybe he was just out of sympathy with the book, too.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Roland
  • 14-02-14

Good listen, try it!

Would you listen to Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce again? Why?

Yes! It's a fresh view of an otherwise difficult read. I've found that listening to books written before 1900 has made the stories come alive. English language prose from about 1700-1900 is often formal and very wordy to modern readers; it generally puts me off. The written form of Gulliver's Travels is especially like that. Jonathon Swift's phonetic spelling of foreign names and places reads awful. His overly polite and courtly speech is tiresome in print; it always bogged me down so that I missed the thrust of the story.
Ah, but spoken by Mr. Pierce the book comes alive. It is easy to hear the subtle sarcasm buried in the superficial formalities, to appreciate the satire embedded in nearly unpronounceable (but not to the narrator) names.The rendition becomes a delight to listen to and to remember. At work, I often see the same Swift characters, behaving the same way.

Which character – as performed by David Hyde Pierce – was your favorite?

Why, Gulliver himself. How could one forget the scene in Lilliput (inhabitants very small but very self important) where the towering giant Gulliver, suddenly awakened from his night's sleep, strides over the town to pluck the queen trapped in her burning palace, then saves the palace from certain destruction by the only means available, pissing on the fire....the only water available....then enduring the rage and enmity of the queen, who orders the palace torn down and Gulliver's death to pay for such an outrageous act. Why wasn't this scene in the Disney version? Recanting this still makes me laugh out loud.

Any additional comments?

Do yourself a favor, try LISTENING to Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, any Washington Irving stories, Jack London stories; you'll be amazed by how good they are.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-02-11

Timeless Humor

Timeless humor made me laugh out loud (rather awkward at the gym).

The quality of the recording was great. David Hyde Pierce made a great reader.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rickapolis
  • 25-02-11

Great book for the road

There's a reason that books remain in print this long. They continue to relate to the 'modern' reader. In whatever age the 'modern' reader may be living. I laughed out loud frequently, and was a little surprised at the, er, 'earthy' humor. Being striped naked and laid between the breats of the giant women of Brobdingnag is racier than I thought would have been allowed. But then the book WAS originally published in secret. David Hyde Pierce does an outstanding job of narrating as well. Top notch. A very strong 'recommend'.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Walter A.
  • 24-04-11

Great reading of a great book

I had forgotten how much I liked this book. Everyone is familiar with Book I - Lilliput. A few know Book II -Bbrobidgnag. Things get even more interesting in Book III, with its classic satire on abstruse scholarship. Book IV is the best of all. David Hyde Pierce could not be bettered as a reader.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Evan
  • 12-02-13

A true Classic

So well read. Its like being there. I was so zoned out into it that I was surprised little people were not next to me.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Sharon
  • 11-07-13

I hated this story!

Would you consider the audio edition of Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce to be better than the print version?

Yes, I would not have finished the book if I had to read it. David Hyde Pierce was fantastic!

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I actually ended up hating this book. As a kid you only hear of part of the story. This was not kids book and I thought the ending was disturbing, although it may have been valid.

What does David Hyde Pierce bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

When Davis Hyde Pierce is reading you get the full experience of the emotions involved from Gulliver"s prospective. I do wonder how he figured out how to say some of the words.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was moved at Gulliver's mistreatment all through the book. I guess so was Gulliver based on the ending of the book.

Any additional comments?

I am not sorry that I got this book, but I really disliked the story. I was hoping for a nice fairy tale. Wow! So much craziness going on in this book.

10 people found this helpful