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[SWIFT, Jonathan.]

Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World.

In four parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, first a surgeon, and then a captain of several ships.

London, Benj[amin] Motte, 1726 Stock Code: 130055
£125,000.00

Contemporary panelled calf

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Notes

True first edition of Swift's masterpiece, Teerink's A edition, with the first state frontispiece. The first state frontispiece has the inscription beneath the portrait, which in the second state was placed around the portrait; a third state is a retouched version of the second.
The strong elements of political satire perhaps intrigued the contemporary readership most, but the book holds a significant place in the evolution of science fiction, its significance alluded to in Edwin Lester Arnold's Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation (1905), also known as Gulliver of Mars, or the character of Gully (short for Gulliver) Foyle in Alfred Bester's Tiger! Tiger! (1956). Gulliver's Travels is a series of fantastic voyages, in which Gulliver finds himself in four different alien environments. The third voyage is to Balnibarbi, off the coast of Japan, in the shadow of the flying island of Laputa, where Swift parades a variety of mad scientists at work on ridiculous inventions, some more prescient than others, such as the invention that would allow even the most ignorant of people to write a book on any subject. Gulliver's final voyage is the land of the Houyhnhnms, where the relationship between rational man and bestial horse is dramatically inverted, anticipating the similar treatment of man and ape in Pierre Boulle's La Planète des singes (1963). Other major science fiction writers who have developed themes from Gulliver's Travels include H. G. Wells in The Island of Dr Moreau (1896), while the first American science-fiction narrative, Symzonia: A Voyage of Discovery, by Capt. Adam Seaborn (1820), uses a similar fantastic voyage to branch off to discover other imagined worlds.
"The clandestine business of getting into print a pseudonymous and satirically explosive political satire entitled Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World (known from the start by its more popular title, Gulliver's Travels) was managed chiefly by Pope, with the assistance of John Gay and Erasmus Lewis. For speed, and to counter the risk of piracy, Motte used five printing houses (those of Edward Say, Henry Woodfall, James Bettenham, William Pearson, and, for the greatest share, that of Jane Ilive). The first edition appeared on 28 October 1726 in two octavo volumes at the price of 8s. 6d., but with unauthorized deletions and insertions by Andrew Tooke (the brother of Benjamin Tooke jun.), and sold out within a week. Gay wrote: 'From the highest to the lowest it is universally read, from the Cabinet-council to the Nursery' Motte followed up with two more octavo editions in 1726 and a duodecimo in 1727, and there was a serialized version which began in the Penny Post (25 November 1726). There were two Dublin editions before the end of 1726, each set up from Motte's first edition... The book sold well in French: the first complete translation appeared at The Hague in January 1727, and an abridged adaptation by the Abbé Desfontaines in Paris in April Swift received from Motte 200 and possibly more from the sales of the book, largely due to Pope's effort at instilling into his friend the principles of 'prudent management' Gulliver's Travels is the book by which Swift is chiefly remembered, and it is the record of his own experience in politics under Queen Anne as an Irishman in what G. B. Shaw called 'John Bull's other island'" (ODNB).
The first edition was published on 28 October 1726. Two superficially similar but distinct octavo editions followed in quick succession: the second (eccentrically designated AA by Teerink) sometime in the middle of November, and the third edition (Teerink B) in December. The edition labelled "second edition" on both title pages was actually the fourth.

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Description

2 volumes, octavo (199 x 117 mm). Contemporary panelled calf, early 19th-century black morocco labels and gilt dates on spines. Housed in a dark brown quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.

Illustrations

Frontispiece portrait of Gulliver (first state), 4 maps and 2 plans, additional early 19th-century engraving after Stothard inserted into vol. I (showing Gulliver in Lilliput).

Condition

Provenance: Robert Callaghan (ink name on title pages, dated 1732), and C. Fox (ink name to pastedown of vol. I and front free endpaper of vol. II, dated 1865). Clipping from The Times dated 9 July 1924, regarding a sale of a different copy, loosely inserted. Late 18th/early 19th-century manuscript addition of a verse by William Bowyer under the portrait frontispiece of Gulliver. Expert restoration at extremities, a few pages lightly creased, some faint staining at head of vol. I. An excellent copy, rarely found in such good condition in a contemporary binding.

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