Summer Reading: Gulliver’s Travels (2016)

Gulliver - Blog Cover

The Welcome:

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Summer Reading endeavor. Fourteen weeks of literary bliss. This year will be a journey in every sense of the word. Our reading material is Jonathan Swift’s 1726 classic, Gulliver’s Travels, known in it’s original publication as Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. The tales of Lemuel Gulliver have been enjoyed by all ages for centuries, studied and dissected by intellectuals for just as long. Gulliver is a brilliant story, a penetrating commentary of human nature, and a biting political satire.

Rare is a work so capable of meeting various readers in varied ways for so very long.

I’m excited.

 

The Endeavor:

The plan is simple. We all read. We all interact. For me, this comes in the form of writing posts here and talking with friends local & live. In case you weren’t along for the ride last year, allow me to iterate my intentions:

First, I am reading and posting as though I’ve never read the book before. I first read Gulliver in college, and I’ve only revisited the first two stories since. I am NOT a Jonathan Swift guru, and I am NOT currently writing a dissertation on 18th century British political culture. This is a layperson’s approach to the text!

Second, I am keeping it casual. This means I’m not seeking to break down every sentence, to analyze the grammar, or to understand every potential interpretation of the nature of egg consumption on Blefuscu . My hope is to be only slightly more intentional than a casual reading, taking the time to reflect on each chapter, ask questions and comment on anything that strikes my fancy this time around. I will be reading various essays simultaneously, and I will more than happily share any valuable thoughts I encounter!

Third, I prefer that this is fun. If you don’t like reflecting or asking questions, then by all means simply enjoy the book. It’s a good book! But if you are interested in moving slowly and thinking, then jump on board! You can follow the site to receive new posts as they are published, you can pick up the links from my facebook page if we’re friendly in that capacity. You can ask me to email you. I’ll help any way that I can.

 

Gulliver - Blog map

 

Recommendations:

You may or may not be aware that there are numerous editions of Gulliver. Originally completed in 1726, various publications contained editorial decisions – some approved, some not – that have rendered each copy of the book potentially, slightly, yet bearably… different. I’ve done my homework so you might not have to! Here are a few reccommendations:

For the adults, I recommend the Unabridged Dover Thrift Edition of Gulliver. This edition is largely based on the 1735 Faulkner edition of the text. 226pgs.

For the nerds, I recommend the Norton Critical Edition, edited by Albert J. Rivero. This edition contains a number of additional resources from the original time period as well as reflection pieces from a number of bright minds across the centuries. If you’re one to study the text, the author, the time period, the implications, and the hairy maid at the harpsichord, then this is your edition. I will be reading this one! 507pgs.

For the kiddos, I highly recommend Martin Jenkins’ retelling, titled Gulliver, illustrated by Chris Riddell (sample illustrations adorn this very page!). The book is a faithful retelling, communicated on a simple level while still offering some depth of commentary on humanity! The illustrations are quirky and fitting. PLUS – and this is most significant – all FOUR voyages are included. Many kiddos’ versions limit the story to the first two adventures. Simple enough to read in a day, but engaging enough to enjoy with the family all summer! 167pgs.

 

Gulliver - Blog Editions

 

The Tentative Schedule: 

My current plan is to post on Wednesdays about the reading. Posts could include references to any of these three editions, plus anything else interesting that I might find! You will find links to anything and everything Gulliver related on this page! My goal is simply to add another layer to your enjoyment of the book. For those local folks, we can discuss the book over a cup of coffee, a family dinner, or a backyard fireworks display. Either way, part of the fun of reading is engaging others!

Key Dates:
Book Launch: Background

Posts on Lilliput:
The Man-Mountain (On Time)
The Man-Mountain (On Control)
A Vile Torrent (On Sovereignty)
An Ode to Make You Blush (On Extinguishing the Flames)
Irregular (On the Randomness of Gulliver)

Posts on Brobdingrag:
I Miss Being the Man-Mountain (On Surrender)
In the Shadow of a Giant (On Humility)

Posts on Laputa et al:
Flappers and Fancy (On Focus)

Solo engagement: The pace of reading works out to roughly 2.5pgs/day if you’re taking it nice & slow. 91 days.

Household engagement: we are reading as a family. So this means we will likely spend a handful of evenings on each voyage in the illustrated Gulliver, with breaks to allow for Mom & Dad to catch up in the original version! I chose Gulliver for this very reason – I’m so excited to read the book with our kiddos!

Team engagement: It is not unusual for me to read aloud to my wife in the evenings over a cup of coffee on the front porch. In fact, this series is also a chance for me to do just that. It’s a fun way to enjoy the story with others. Reading aloud is a fun experience, particularly when you get to the land of Houyhnhnms!! Find a conversation partner and GO!

 

I don’t set out to do this for any reason other than to encourage others to read good books. Creativity is a gift. Longevity in creativity is a blessing. Grab hold of it and let your imagination soar!

Feel free to interact with the website, or on social media, if you’d like! We’re all in this together.

 

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