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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
It was a long and boring weekend...
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1031  Saturday, 31 May 2003

From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Sunday, 25 May 2003 03:43:18 -0700
Subject:        It was a long and boring weekend...

Last week and over the week-end, which is to say, from last Tuesday, May
20, and ending on Sunday, May 25, a celebration took place that may have
escaped the notice of members of this electronic discussion list, unless
of course they knew of it but deliberately ignored it, at Knebworth
House in Hertfordshire, England, but if I were to say, and I do say,
that Knebworth House has been the ancestral home of the Lytton family
since 1490, list members will probably hazard a guess to which
celebration I refer, to wit: the bicentennial of the birth, on May 25,
1803, of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, first Baron Lytton of Knebworth, who
before a career in politics that included two years as colonial
secretary, was the author of multitudinous novels, dramas, and other
books, including _Rienzi_, the novel upon which Richard Wagner based his
opera of the same name, _The Last Days of Pompeii_, a novel that remains
in print from a number of publishers, and, not to let this pass without
a brief mention, a novel whose title may jog more than a few neurons,
even though it is out of print, because of the fame of its opening
sentence, a sentence made well known through the novel-writing efforts
of a cartoon dog named Snoopy, who wrote on a manual typewriter on top
of his doghouse, to the merriment of a couple of generations of
newspaper readers, and subsequently memorialized through the efforts of
an English professor at San Jose State University, in San Jose,
California, named Scott Rice, who in 1982 founded the Bulwer-Lytton
Fiction Contest, that competition being, and I quote here, "a whimsical
literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening
sentence to the worst of all possible novels," much like the opening
sentence of the Bulwer-Lytton novel whose title I have somehow neglected
to mention but will now do so promptly, that is, _Paul Clifford_, and
whose opening sentence, a masterpiece of egregious diddling, if I may
quote the late Sir Nikolaus Pevsner speaking of some other author
altogether, I have been meaning for quite some time to reveal in all its
length, and here it is, in full, unedited, verbatim, complete to the end
of the sentence, which is a period, and I quote:  "It was a dark and
stormy night; the rain fell in torrents-except at occasional intervals,
when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets
(for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops,
and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled
against the darkness."

The Bulwer-Lytton contest deadline is June 15.  There are ten
categories, and it is not too late to enter this year.
http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

Al Magary
May Fool

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