Disruption - 10th Annual Honi Soit Writing Competition
Comedy //

New Jonathan Swift Correspondence Reveals Houyhnhnm Name to be an Error

Gulliver’s Travels, the classic satire from 1726, covers the titular character’s adventures through lands full of strangely named peoples – the tiny Lilliputians, giant Brobdignagians, and the intelligent race of horses, the Houyhnhnms. But in a letter newly unearthed from the papers of publisher Benjamin Motte, an irate Swift complains of a typographical error –…

Gulliver’s Travels, the classic satire from 1726, covers the titular character’s adventures through lands full of strangely named peoples – the tiny Lilliputians, giant Brobdignagians, and the intelligent race of horses, the Houyhnhnms.

But in a letter newly unearthed from the papers of publisher Benjamin Motte, an irate Swift complains of a typographical error – the name was intended to be ‘Horses’. The archive also includes an unfinished reply from the publisher, with some ironically unpublishable comments on Swift’s handwriting.

Swift’s unmistakable prose was employed to full effect in the excoriating epistle.

“Your printer has been so careless as to confound the simplest of demonyms, and suffer the reader to wonder at the pronunciation and spelling of the simplest of words.

“Horses, Ben, they’re bloody horses.”