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Saturday, February 4, 2023
HomeGateway Plan"Gulliver's Travels" map from 1726 depicts Arcata and the Brobdingnagian Gateway Plan

“Gulliver’s Travels” map from 1726 depicts Arcata and the Brobdingnagian Gateway Plan

Melanie Bright’s letter (November 15, 2022) to the Arcata City Council and the Planning Commission refers to the Gateway Plan as “this brobdingnagian development.” You can read her full letter and David Loya’s response here.
 
Brobdingnag is a fictional land which is occupied by giants in Jonathan Swift’s 1726 satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels.
The adjective “Brobdingnagian” has come to describe anything of colossal size.
 
A Brobdingnagian’s eyes are “above sixty feet” from the ground. A farmer who Gulliver meets is about 72 feet tall. Thus, the height of a Brobdingnagian would be about 65-75 feet — which by coincidence is more or less the height of the 6- and 7-story buildings that are proposed for the Gateway area.
 
And curiously for those of us here on the North Coast:

Swift describes the location of Brobdingnag and its geography in Part II of Gulliver’s Travels and provides a map showing where it is. The fictional map indicates that Brobdingnag is located on the northwest coast of North America, around probably what is now British Columbia. In the novel, the map dates from 1703.

The map shows (from south to north) Point Monterey, Port Sir Francis Drake (now San Francisco), Cape Mendocino (Capetown, south of Ferndale), Cape St. Sebastian (just north of Brookings, Oregon), Cape Blanco (north of Port Orford, south of Bandon, Oregon) and the semi-mythical Strait of Anián (perhaps the Straits of San Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands, between the U.S. and Canada, between Seattle and Victoria, B.C.) and depicts Brobdingnag as a peninsula extending west into the Pacific to the north of the Straits.

The river in the crude fictional map more or less corresponds to the location (but not the angle of flow) of the Klamath River.

The little blip of a point just below the river would correspond to Trinidad Head. Just below that point would be Humboldt and Arcata Bay.

On this fictional map from Gulliver’s Travels, written in 1726, Arcata is marked with the red star.


Jonathan Swift’s novel is considered a satirical masterpiece and among the 100 best novels of all time. His satirical essay “A Modest Proposal” is considered to be one of the greatest examples of sustained irony in the history of the English language.

George Wittkowsky in 1943 wrote that Swift’s main target in “A Modest Proposal” was not the conditions in Ireland, but rather the can-do spirit of the times that led people to devise a number of illogical schemes that would purportedly solve social and economic ills.

The Humor section on this website contains a bit of satire, written in May, 2022, called “The Gateway Plan: A modest proposal.”

Just as Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” is described, the target here is the Gateway Plan.
The Gateway Plan was anticipated 300 years ago as: 

The can-do spirit of the times that led people to devise a number of illogical schemes that would purportedly solve social and economic ills.


 

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