What a find!

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is no ordinary gull. According to the philosophy of his Flock, the purpose of life is to eat and to live as long as possible, and the purpsoe of flying and fighting and everything is to get food. But for Jonathan, his purest ecstacy is in flight. He wants to be the best flier he can be – not just the best in the Flock, which is easy, but the best possible. He wants to break records, reach limits, stretch every fibre of his gull body until he knows the joy of perfect flight.

For this, he must break the law of the Flock and is made Outcast. But his learning continues; he is lifted to a higher, clearer plane; his understanding deepens; and he reaches closer and closer to the essence of being a Gull, an image of the Great Gull.

One day, he comes at last to understand what this all means, and he yearns to return to the Flock and find others who, like him, want to break away from the mindless existence of eating and fighting – to find others like him and to lend them a helping hand on the great journey that he himself has made. They had long ago cast him out, yet in his love he wants to teach them what he has learned. Magnificently, gleaming white, joyfully, he does indeed return. He soon recruits a few young Outcast gulls – but will the rest of the Flock ever listen to what he has to say?

This is a tale that works elegantly and beautifully on its own literal level, but also on a host of other levels. It is a story that will chime as a Christian allegory particularly, but which can give us a good deal to think about on the subject of religion generally. It is a story about birdly endeavour that translates easily into a story about human striving – the fanaticism of a person desperate to do that little bit more, go that little bit further, make it a little more perfect. The thrill of discovery is there, as is the joy of success and the frustrations and determination and grit that must accompany either.

All that, and pictures too.

Now this little book is why I started the Big Read Project in the first place. How else would I have found such a gem?

Here’s an Amazon link.
I got mine from the library, but I think I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a copy of my own.

Advertisements