Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Laputa

Laputa is a floating island from the classic novel Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.  It is one of the many strange lands that Gulliver travels to in his journey.  Laputa is an island with a bottom made entirely of adamantine, and the people of Laputa can direct where the island floats to by manipulating the magnetic fields of the metal.  It is populated by a patriarchal society made up of scientists and mathematicians, except the people are not particularly logical in the way they go about things like design—for example, using a compass or a quadrant to try and design clothing, rather than a measuring tape.

The king of Laputa also ruled the lands below it, mainly by fear.  If a land below rebelled, he would threaten to float the island directly above them, and thus cutting them off from all sunshine or rain, and ultimately creating a famine there.  In some cases rocks were thrown off of Laputa onto the cities below—which is supposedly the first idea of aerial warfare.  In extreme cases, Laputa could be made to land on unruly cities, crushing them out of existence.

The society is male-dominated, and because of this women had to request to be able to visit the lands below Laputa, which requests were often denied because of the extreme possibility and likelihood that they wouldn’t want to come back. (I wonder why!)

So all in all, while the idea of a floating island is really a magical and wonderful one (at least in my mind), I don’t know that Swift’s Laputa is the one you’d want to visit.  Of course, Laputa was also the inspiration of Hayao Miyazaki’s film of the same name, also called Castle in the Sky in the U.S., a movie that comes highly recommended from yours truly.

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About Lisa Asanuma

Lisa is a professional freelance writer and editor, along with a bookbinder and knitting obsessee. Lisa has a passion for YA literature (inside her passion for literature in general) and is currently working on her first novel. View all posts by Lisa Asanuma

One response to “Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Laputa

  • Tilling

    For a while now I’ve had a rather obsessive fascination with the Laputa (or “floating island” as it’s most often referred to) concept, especially when it’s in a sky (as opposed to hovering lowly above the ground) setting. There’s something so magical, beautiful, and peaceful (though obviously not in regards to Laputa :p ) about it that appeals to me over other fantasy concepts and settings. It’s such a rarity to see the concept addressed in fiction blogs so this post was rather refreshing.

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