Ring Out, Wild Bells

When I finally got around to seeing Max Reinhardt cinema version of "A Midsummer-Night's Dream," and saw a child called Mickey Rooney playing Puck, I remembered suddenly that long ago I had taken the same part.

Our production was given on the open-air stage at the Riverdale Country School, shortly before the war. The scenery was only the natural scenery of that suburban dell, and the cast was exclusively male, ranging in age from eleven to perhaps seventeen. While we had thus preserved the pure, Elizabethan note of the original, it must be admitted that our version had its drawbacks. The costumes were probably the worst things we had to bear, and even Penrod, tragically arrayed as Launcelot in his sister's stockings and his father's drawers, might have been embarrassed for us. Like Penrod, we were costumed by our parents, and like the Schofields, they seemed on the whole a little weak historically. Half of the ladies were inclined to favor the Elizabethan, and they had constructed rather bunchy ruffs and farthingales for their offspring; others, who had read as far as the stage directions and learned that the action took place in an Athenian wood, had produced something vaguely Athenian, usually beginning with a sheet. Only the fairies had a certain uniformity. For some reason their parents had all decided on cheesecloth, with here and there a little ill-advised trimming with tinsel.

-191-

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Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents xi
  • Parodies Regained 1
  • Time . . . Fortune . . . Life . . . Luce 3
  • Death in the Rumble Seat 20
  • Topless in Ilium 24
  • The Factory and the Attic 27
  • Glorious Calvin (a Critical Appreciation Many Years Later) 33
  • Shad Ampersand 37
  • The Education of Henry Apley 47
  • Eva's Deathbed Revisited 51
  • Shakespeare, Here's Your Hat 56
  • To a Little Girl at Christmas 62
  • On a Darkling Plain 66
  • Zulu, Watch the Snakes 71
  • Some Matters of Fact 77
  • Big Nemo 79
  • Lady of the Cats 126
  • St. George and the Dragnet 140
  • One with Nineveh 162
  • Battle's Distant Sound 174
  • Robert Benchley: in Memoriam 180
  • So-So Stories 185
  • Outwitting the Lightning 187
  • Ring Out, Wild Bells 191
  • The Secret Life of Myself 196
  • Song at Twilight 202
  • Crusoe's Footprint 211
  • The Courtship of Milton Barker 223
  • The Curious Incident of the Dogs In the Night-Time 246
  • The Crusaders 257
  • Wounds and Decorations 265
  • The Country of the Blind 267
  • O.K., Zanuck, Take It Away 275
  • The Big Boffola 285
  • The Personality Kid 291
  • Adultery Makes Dull Bedfellows 294
  • The Mantle of Comstock 297
  • Two Very Sad Young Men 301
  • At Home with the Gants 304
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