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Economics and literature: an examination of Gulliver’s Travels

Marcelo Fernandes (Department of Economics, European University Institute, San Domenico di Fiesole, Italy)

Journal of Economic Studies

ISSN: 0144-3585

Article publication date: 1 April 2001


Jonathan Swift’s masterpiece, Gulliver’s Travels, considered at first a children’s book, has been for a long time the subject of a debate among philosophers, political scientists, and literary critics. Apart from its keen political satire, Gulliver’s Travels approaches in a very non‐standard way interesting socioeconomic topics such as the legal system, political science, and colonisation. Moreover, Swift provides interesting insights about human nature and behaviour when describing the nations visited by Captain Gulliver. This paper examines to what extent economic philosophy can contribute to the understanding of Gulliver’s Travels, and what economists can learn from Swift’s extravagant digressions.



Fernandes, M. (2001), "Economics and literature: an examination of Gulliver’s Travels", Journal of Economic Studies, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 92-105.




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