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Map of Laputa and Balnibarbi (Hermann Moll, before 1726)

Laputa is a fictional place from the book Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.

Laputa is a fictional flying island or rock with an adamantine base, that can be maneuvered by its inhabitants in any direction using magnetic levitation. The population of the island mainly consists 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), but couldn't construct well-designed clothing or buildings - reason for this being that measurements are taken with instruments such as quadrants and a compass rather than with tapes.

It is a male-dominated society; often, the wives of these men request to leave the island to visit the land below. However, these requests are almost never granted because the women never want to come back voluntarily.

The ground below the floating island, within the region it can travel, is also controlled by the king of Laputa, with the ground capital being the city of Lagado.

The king, being a tyrannic ruler, controls the mainland mostly by threatening to cover rebel regions with the island's shadow, thus preventing 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 rebelling of Lindalino against Laputa is an allegory on 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).

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

Some find a parallel with Martin Luther's famous quote "That great whore, Reason", given Laputians' extreme fondness of reason. However, that Swift's intention was to mock the so-called "Age of Reason" is not without doubt, given the story-teller's great admiration of Houyhnhnms for their rational thinking.

Influence on contemporary work

Laputa, as some of Swift's other inventions, was the inspiration and basis for several other works; this may be due to the universally appealing nature of the concept of a land floating in sky, or the popular stereotyping of intellectuals as an otherworldly culture.

Works based on Laputa include:

  • In the September 16, 1916 issue of Illustrated London News, G. K. Chesterton compared the Zeppelin dirigibles then bombing London with "the flying island of Laputa."
  • In the novel "Manalive", G.K. Chesterton compares leaping whales to "the winged island of Laputa."
  • The fictional internet state Free Republic of Laputa claims to be the legal successor of Swift's Laputa.
  • Laputa: Castle in the Sky, an anime by Hayao Miyazaki which features a floating city with the same name. Gulliver is mentioned in the Japanese version; one of the main characters says that Gulliver had done many studies on Laputa.
  • In Pavel Juráček's 1969 film Případ pro začínajícího kata (Case for a Rookie Hangman), Laputa stands for a dirigible flying island.
  • The "Laputa Missile Complex", the target of the bomb crew in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 black comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
  • In Alasdair Gray's dystopian novel "Lanark", the ruling government under the Lord Monboddo suggests the construction of an energy-harnessing floating city--"It has been suggested we call this enterprise New frontier or Dynostar. I suggest the Laputa Project...".[1]
  • In the computer game UFO:Aftershock, Laputa is the mothership which is the size of a small city, in orbit around Earth.
  • In the computer game "Sacrifice", Laputa is one of the flying isles of the god Stratos. Some of his inhabitants are flying brains.
  • In the TV show LOST, the Island is very similar to Laputa, with the magnetic properties, the darkness being provided by the smoke monster and the references to women wanting to leave and not return also pertinent.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's New Almanack, there is a section that pertains Gulliver and his League, Nathaniel Bumppo, Dr Syn, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Orlando and Fanny Hill traveling around to the destinations Gulliver had visited in his youth, one of them being Laputa, which they are only able to spy far above them, with no means of ascending to it.
  • The Japanese electronic recording artist Susumu Yokota released his album, "Laputa", in 2003.
  • The Chiptune song 'Laputa' by Henry Homesweet directly references Gulliver's Travels.
  • In Deus Ex (2000) Gunther Hermanns killphrase is a reference to Laputa:

"JC Denton: I know your UNATCO killphrase: Laputan machine." "Gunther Hermann: I am not a mach..." "JC Denton: Sticks and stones. "

  • In the racing video game F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, one of the race courses was originally called "Laputan Colony", but this name was changed in English-speaking countries to "Empyrean Colony".


  1. ^ p.546
  • 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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