Thursday, May 22, 2014

An Inklings parlor game

When the Inklings gathered the usual routine was for one of them to read from something on which he was working. Apparently, when none were prepared to present, Irene Iddesleigh would sometimes be brought out. The game was to see how much could be read without someone bursting out in laughter. David Bentley Hart introduced me to this work by Amanda McKittrick Ros in a First Things essay a couple of years ago and I immediately downloaded the book for my Kindle. I have now also found it at ManyBooks where it is a free download and is described as "The story of a marriage doomed from the first moment by unrequited love."

From a review at ManyBooks:
I can cheerfully say that this is the worst novel ever written. I thoroughly recommend it to everyone who likes a laugh. I re-read several passages in astonishment at their awfulness. She [Ros] has heard about adjectives and alliteration and uses the two devices endlessly. ....
Hart quotes several passages from that book and others, from among which:
When on the eve of glory, whilst brooding over the prospects of a bright and happy future, whilst meditating upon the risky right of justice, there we remain, wanderers on the cloudy surface of mental woe, disappointment and danger, inhabitants of the grim sphere of anticipated imagery, partakers of the poisonous dregs of concocted injustice. Yet such is life.

“Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!”
Hart also notes Ros's poetry:
...[S]he printed a few broadsheets for the troops during the Great War, one of which featured her poem “A Little Belgian Orphan,” a tale of German atrocities that begins with the extraordinary line “Daddy was a Belgian and so was Mammy too,” and that includes such plangent couplets as “Just then they raised the little lad and threw him on the fire, / And wreathed in smiles they watched him burn until he did expire.” [more]
I found these poetic efforts, the first being the final verse of "A Little Belgian Orphan":
Go! Meet the foe undaunted, they're rotten cowards all,
Present to them the bayonet, they totter and they fall,
We know you'll do your duty and come to little harm
And if you meet the Kaiser, cut off his other arm.
And after visiting Westminster Abbey, where a lot of people are in fact interred:
Holy Moses! Have a look!
Flesh decayed in every nook!
Some rare bits of brain lie here,
Mortal loads of beef and beer,
Some of whom are turned to dust,
Every one bids lost to lust;
Royal flesh so tinged with 'blue'
Undergoes the same as you.
So if conversation lags open Irene Iddesleigh, read it aloud, and see whether you can retain your composure better than Lewis or Tolkien .

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