Laputa

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{country, population, people}
{math, energy, light}
{island, water, area}
{theory, work, human}
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Laputa is a fictional place from the book Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.

Laputa is a fictional flying island or rock, about 4.5 miles in diameter, with an adamantine base, which its inhabitants can maneuver in any direction using magnetic levitation. Its population consists mainly of educated people, who are fond of mathematics, astronomy, music and technology, but fail to make practical use of their knowledge (the rest are their servants).

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

It 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 never want to return voluntarily.

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

The 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 (which seems the first time that aerial bombardment was conceived of as a method of warfare). In extreme cases, the island is lowered on the cities below in order to crush them, although this has not been successful every time, notably in the case of Lindalino.

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

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

Laputa, as with some of Swift's other inventions, was the inspiration and basis for many later works, most prominently Laputa: Castle in the Sky, an anime by Hayao Miyazaki which centers on a floating city. It also gave its name to a race course of the Game Boy Advance video game F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, as "Laputan Colony". In both titles, the North American release changed these titles, to simply "Castle in the Sky" in the former case and "Empyrean Colony" in the latter case, to avoid similarity to the vulgar Spanish term la puta.

References

  • Page, Michael; Ingpen, Robert (1998). Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were. New York: Penguin Studio. pp. 94, 150–1. ISBN 0140100083. 

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