The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear

The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear

The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear

The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear

Excerpt

Just over a hundred years ago the children of England (and also many older folk) were surprised into entertainment by the appearance 'out of the blue' of an oblong book of hilarious rhymes and still more hilarious pictures by an author hitherto unknown to the general public. This fantastic collection of rhymes-without-reason was an instantaneous success, and Edward Lear Book of Nonsense had given a local habitation and a name to one of the oldest and most persistent of human faculties. Its author, like an earlier poet, awoke to find himself famous--but in an entirely different branch of art from that by which he sought to earn a living, and he remains its unchallenged laureate. The literature of nonsense has grown in quality as well as quantity during the past century but the whole-hearted abandonment of sense, as formalised by Edward Lear, is still the classical example of this curious and amusing art.

There are several ways of approaching the fine arts and particularly that of an artist so peculiar as Edward Lear, for although the entertainment value of the Book of Nonsense and its pendants is obvious, the personality and motives behind that work will repay examination. Such an examination is tempting because Lear was no ordinary writer turning out humorous books for a living, nor were those books his only productions; on the contrary his nonsense began as the sideline of a professional life devoted to the illustration of books . . .

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