The New International Encyclopædia/Laputa

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LAPUTA, lȧ-pū′tȧ. An island described as floating in the air, in Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726). Its movements were guided by a shuttle-shaped loadstone, under the control of the wise men of the island, and it followed the direction in which the loadstone was pointed. The imaginary inhabitants of this remarkable island were grave philosophers devoted to mathematics and music, who wore garments adorned with representations of harps, trumpets, fiddles, flutes, guitars, and other instruments, and with suns, moons, and stars. These philosophers were wont to be so absorbed in their speculations that they neither spoke, nor attended to what was said by others, until gently reminded by servants, who were supplied with blown bladders fastened like flails to the end of a sharp stick. With the bladders it was the duty of the servants to strike gently the mouths or ears of their masters in order to arouse them from their abstracted state of mind to answer questions. The island is a satire on the Royal Society, and especially on Sir Isaac Newton. See Swift, Jonathan.