Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, January 29, 2006


And Speaking of Frames of Reference

We actually peruse Nobody's Perfect on a regular basis, generally reading out loud the way families of yore used to read the Bible. Some number of years ago I was searching the Table of Contents for something new, and I offered to read aloud Anthony Lane's feature on Edward Lear.

"Who's Edward Lear?" asked Michael.
"Oh, you know," I said, as I do far too often.
"No, actually I don't."
"Yes you do. The one with the verses."
"Verses?"
"Yeah, you know, those horrible Victorian verses that all go, like, 'Nigel fell down a chute and died, that's what you get.'"
"They go what?"

If it is not immediately obvious, I had confused Edward Lear with Edward Gorey. What is less obvious is what I was hoping to convey by "Nigel fell down a chute and died/that's what you get." When I actually looked up "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" whatever the fuck that means, I was able to show Michael that Edward Gorey wrote, among other things, an illustrated catalogue of 26 alphabetically named children who die in couplets. An example of which: "S is for Susan who perished of fits/T is for Titus who flew into bits." N, it turns out, is not for Nigel who fell down a chute but for Neville, who died of ennui.

What we know about Edward Lear we have learned from Anthony Lane.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at January 29, 2006 6:58 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
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  •   Posted by Anonymous Katy at January 30, 2006 12:14 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I went to Edward Gorey's house on Cape Cod this past summer. It was interesting, actually, and they had a lot of his possessions (including a skull!) on display. If you're ever in Yarmouth (sounds like a place where pirates would live, Yarrrrrmouth!), I recommend it.

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