Laputa

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For the Hayao Miyazaki anime film, see Castle in the Sky.
For other uses, see Laputa (disambiguation).
Laputa
Laputa map.gif
Map of Laputa and Balnibarbi (Hermann Moll, before 1726)
Gulliver's Travels location
Creator Jonathan Swift
Genre Satire
Type Flying island
Notable characters King
Gulliver discovers Laputa, the flying island (illustration by J.J. Grandville.)
The Queen of Laputa, from a French edition of Gulliver's Travels (1850s)

Laputa is a flying island mentioned from the book Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. It is a flying island about 4.5 miles in diameter, with an adamantine base, which its inhabitants can manoeuvre in any direction using magnetic levitation.

Inhabitants[edit]

Laputa's population consists mainly of educated people, who are fond of mathematics, astronomy, music and technology, but fail to make practical use of their knowledge. Servants make up the rest of the population.

The Laputans have mastered magnetic levitation and discovered the two moons of Mars (which in reality would not be discovered for another 150 years). However, they are unable to construct well-designed clothing or buildings, because they take measurements with instruments such as quadrants and a compass rather than with tape measures.

Laputa is a male-dominated society. Wives often request to leave the island to visit the land below; however, these requests are almost never granted because the women who leave Laputa never want to return. The clothes of Laputans, which do not fit, are decorated with astrological symbols and musical figures. They spend their time listening to the music of the spheres. They believe in astrology and worry constantly that the sun will go out. The Laputan houses, he notices, are badly built, without accurate right angles. The Laputan women are highly sexed and adulterous, preferring men from the island of Balnibarbi. The Laputan husbands, who are so abstracted in mathematical and musical calculations, don't know that their wives are adulterous.

Due to their fervent intellectual pursuits, Laputans are also depicted as becoming so lost in thought that they do not move unless struck by a "bladder", many of their heads have become stuck reclined to one side, and they often suffer from strabismus.

Nearby lands[edit]

The land beneath the floating island, within the region the Laputa can travel, is known as Balnibarbi. Balnibarbi is controlled by the king of Laputa; its ground capital is the city of Lagado.

Laputa's tyrannical king controls the mainland mostly by threatening to cover rebel regions with the island's shadow, thus blocking sunlight and rain, or by throwing rocks at rebellious surface cities. In extreme cases, the island is lowered onto the cities below to crush them, although this is not successful every time, notably in the case of Lindalino.

The Balnibarbian language, spoken on both Laputa and Balnibarbi, is described by Gulliver as sounding similar to Italian.

Symbolism[edit]

Lindalino's rebellion against Laputa is an allegory of Ireland's revolt against Great Britain, and Great Britain's (meaning the Whig government's) violent foreign and internal politics (see Jonathan Swift for his political career). The Laputans' absurd inventions mock the Royal Society.

As "la puta" means "the whore" (see Spanish profanity), some Spanish editions of "Gulliver's Travels" use "Lapuntu", "Laput", "Lapuda" and "Lupata" as bowdlerisations. It is likely, given Swift's brand of satire, that he was aware of the Spanish meaning. (Gulliver, himself, claimed Spanish among the many languages in which he was fluent.)

Legacy[edit]

Laputa, as with some of Swift's other inventions, was the inspiration and basis for many later works. Examples include:

References[edit]

External links[edit]