Gulliver’s Voyage to Phantomimia. A transcreation by Douglas Robinson

KILPI, Volter


When the great Finnish modernist genius Volter Kilpi died in the summer of 1939 at the age of 64, he left behind an unfinished novel manuscript about Lemuel Gulliver’s fifth voyage—this one supposedly to the North Pole, though along the way the ship is sucked into a vortex near the Pole and hurtled two centuries ahead in time. He and three surviving shipmates end up in London in 1938, wondering how to get back to their time.

In addition to translating what Kilpi wrote into Swiftian English, Douglas Robinson has here written the incomplete novel to the end, based on Kilpi’s report to his son on how he planned to return the men to 1738.

Because Kilpi also playfully pretended to have “found” the original English manuscript, presumably written by Lemuel Gulliver himself, and “translated” it into Finnish, Robinson goes along with that pretense and pretends to have rediscovered and “edited” and “annotated” the original English manuscript—written, perhaps, not by Gulliver but (at least partly) by Jonathan Swift.

The addition of Robinson’s English translation of Volter Kilpi’s “translator’s preface” and two fictional constructs—anonymous “random notes toward a vorticist manifesto” (1914) and an ersatz “reader’s report” by an imaginary Finnish Kilpi scholar named Julius Nyrkki—transforms the entire volume into a postmodern “critical edition” that would have tickled Volter Kilpi pink.

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ISBN 978-606-697-122-5 (paperback)
ISBN 978-606-697-123-2 (ebook)

Weight 0.501 kg
Dimensions 20 × 13 × 2 cm
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