Gulliver Jr

A noticeable trend among some eighteenth-century novelists was to claim one's work as the offspring of a well-received work of fiction. In the anonymously published Charlotte Summers (1750), the narrator-author presents himself as the illegitimate offspring of Henry Fielding’s narrator-author: ‘You must know then, I am the first Begotten, of the poetical Issue, of the much celebrated Biographer of Joseph Andrews, and Tom Jones’. He continues in a playful, Fieldingesque tone – ‘I dare not pretend to be legitimately begotten’ – feeding off a relationship with the noted author while openly drawing attention to the faulty, cloying artifice of such an enforced filial connection. As Petrarch cautioned, in 1366, the ‘proper imitator should take care that what he writes resembles the original without reproducing it’, since resemblance is like ‘a son to his father’. In this vein British and Irish novels in the long eighteenth century routinely invoked an invented, uncanny heritage, as in Thomas Cogan’s baggy extension of Thomas Amory’s popular novel The Life of John Buncle (1756), John Buncle, Junior (1776). Tristram Shandy even gave birth to his own grandfather, Christopher Wagstaff, in 1762.

Gulliver, it's fair to say, fathered more literary offspring than most. The most famous example is Desfontaines's The Travels of Mr. John Gulliver, Son to Capt. Lemuel Gulliver, translated from the French by John Lockman in 1731. Lemuel Gulliver, jun. is the pseudonymous author of Modern Gulliver’s Travels (1796). The book's subtitle alone merits some attention: Lilliput: being a new journey to that celebrated island. Containing a faithful account of the manners, character, customs, religion, laws, politics, revenue, taxes, learning, general progress in arts and sciences, dress, amusements, and gallantry of those famous little people. From the Year 1702 (when they were first discovered and visited by Captain Lemuel Gulliver, the Father of the Compiler of this Work), to the present Aera 1796. Lilliput, the subject of the first voyage in Swift's original, suffice it to say, proved popular among secondary authors. As recently as 1979 a Lemuel Gulliver Jr appeared in a science fiction retelling of Swift's satire: Esme Dodderidge's The New Gulliver; or, The Adventures of Lemuel Gulliver Jr in Capovolta. Having served as a civilian officer in the Naval Meteorology Department of the Admiralty during the second World War, Dodderidge's themes are understandably concerned with military politics. It's a fairly rare book, but definitely worth a read. She neatly captures the Western paranoia of Swift's forebear:

"With a little whirring noise and a click the cylinder switched itself off, indicating that no further messages had been recorded on it. I sat back in some perplexity. I did not know that Block C housed what we would call the 'Top Secret' operations of the Transport Company. This probably sounds melodramatic, but I should perhaps now explain what I had only gradually begun to apprehend during the months of my employment at the memory bank."


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© 2016 by DPC

Dr Daniel Cook

School of Humanities

University of Dundee

Dundee, DD1 4HN

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