Apr 08

Evertype is pleased to announce the publication of a new edition of Caroline Lewis’ Lost in Blunderland , a political parody of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Lost in BlunderlandFrom the introduction:

Clara in Blunderland was written in 1902 and details the adventures of Arthur Balfour while being groomed to become Prime Minister—the Clara of Lost in Blunderland, published in 1903, is Balfour once he got the job. The two novels deal with British frustration and anger about the Boer War and with Britain’s political leadership at the time.

Caroline Lewis is a pen-name, that of the team of Edward Harold Begbie (1871–1929), J. Stafford Ransome (born 1860), and M. H. Temple. Much of Begbie’s work was as a journalist, though he also wrote non-fiction, biographies, and some twenty-five novels, ranging from children’s stories to explorations of per sonal psychology and spirituality. He wrote some of his best-known investigative and satirical work under the pen-name “A Gentleman with a Duster”.

J. Stafford Ransome, the illustrator of both Blunderland books, also worked as a journalist. Moreover he wrote on such wide-ranging subjects as labour relations, engineering in South Africa, and woodworking machinery. In 1902 M. H. Temple collaborated again with Begbie and Ransome in The Coronation Nonsense Book (in the style of Edward Lear). In 1894 he contributed satirical political verse to The Hawarden Horace by Charles L. Graves.

Caroline Lewis’ jokes and allusions are too rich and densely woven into this book to explain them all—more a theme for an academic thesis than for a foreword like this, and I am no expert in any case. But I can supply a few biographical summaries (to 1903) and photos to assist the reader to put the cartoon parodies into context, and guide the reader who wishes to pursue an interest in any of these characters, or in the particulars of Balfour’s early premiership.

But you don’t need to be an expert in early twentieth-century British politics to enjoy either book—the story’s parody of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland books is still fresh and funny even more than a century later. Politics and politicians haven’t changed much, it seems, in a century. That may be regrettable—but at least Caroline Lewis can still make us laugh about it!

“Now, the proper way,” the Goat continued, to reduce yourself with these tabloids is to swallow them with your eyes shut as tight as possible, and then to go immediately to the country. That’ll reduce you quickly enough.”

Clara, like her Aunt Sarum, was always fond of quack remedies, so she did as she was told and swallowed the tabloids.

They were very nasty, and tasted like a mixture of Board Schools, County Councils, and Curates; but she, got them down at last.

Then a most curious thing happened. No sooner had she swallowed the drugs than everything seemed to go round and round, and she found herself swimming about in a great pool of water. The Goat and the shop and everything else had disappeared, and she realized at once that she was quite at sea.

Apr 03

Evertype is pleased to announce the publication of a new edition of Caroline Lewis’ Clara in Blunderland , a political parody of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Clara in BlunderlandFrom the introduction:

Caroline Lewis is a pen-name, that of the team of Edward Harold Begbie (1871–1929), J. Stafford Ransome (born 1860), and M. H. Temple, who wrote both Clara in Blunderland and a sequel, Lost in Blunderland. These two novels deal with British frustration and anger about the Boer War and with Britain’s political leadership at the time. Much of Begbie’s work was as a journalist, though he also wrote non-fiction, biographies, and some twenty-five novels, ranging from children’s stories to explorations of per sonal psychology and spirituality. In 1917, he publicly agreed with the pacifists in their opposition to the war and defended the right conscientious objectors not to fight in it. Later he wrote some of his best-known investigative and satirical work under the pen-name “A Gentleman with a Duster”.

J. Stafford Ransome, the illustrator of both Blunderland books, also worked as a journalist. Moreover he wrote on such wide-ranging subjects as labour relations, engineering in South Africa, and woodworking machinery.

In 1902 M. H. Temple collaborated again with Begbie and Ransome in The Coronation Nonsense Book (in the style of Edward Lear). Previously in 1894 he contributed satirical political verse to The Hawarden Horace by Charles L. Graves.

I should make it clear that I am not a student of early twentieth-century British politics—but I’m not publishing this book because of its value to the study of that time and place. I’m publishing it because it’s a splendid parody, amusing both for what it parodies as for its reflection of Carroll’s original.

It is by no means my intention to annotate this edition, but I can—with the help of a review in the British Empire League’s periodical United Australia (“One people one destiny”)*—give some guidance to the reader. In the section “Literary Note and Books of the Month”, Evelyn Dickinson, writes from London:

Clara in Blunderland, by Caroline Lewis, (Heinemann, 6s.).
A small volume of capital fooling. Caroline Lewis has kept as closely as possible to the lines of Lewis Carroll, and “S. R.” has wrought as much as possible like Sir John Tenniel, so that familiar echoes and resemblances pursue us all the while we read. “Clara” is Mr Balfour; “Blunderland” is the politics of the moment, wherein play the Red Queen (Mr Chamberlain); the Duchess (Lord Salisbury), who is also referred to by Clara as “Aunt Sarum”; Crumpty-Bumpty (Mr Campbell-Bannerman); the Walrus (Sir William Harcourt); the Dalmeny Cat (Lord Rosebery); and various other prominent statesmen. Many a true word is spoken here in jest.

Biographical summaries (to 1902) and photos will certainly help the reader to put the cartoon parodies into context, and guide the reader who wishes to pursue an interest in any of these characters, or in the ramifications of the Second Boer War in general.

In the end, in 2010, Clara in Blunderland has to stand on its own in a way that it didn’t in 1902. In my opinion it survives the passage of a century surprisingly well. Politics and politicians haven’t changed much, it seems, in a century. That may be regrettable—but at least Caroline Lewis can still make us laugh about it!

“No room! No room!” cried the March Hare, with a strong Irish brogue.

“There’s plenty of room!” said Clara. “Why, there are more tea-cups than people, ever so many. Besides, I didn’t know it was your table.”

This made the March Hare laugh a great deal. “It isn’t a table at all,” he said. “It’s a platform. It’s not all mine. The part above board belongs to him—” pointing to the Hatter with his spoon “—and all the rest to me. The Dormouse thinks he has a share in it too, but he hasn’t. That’s only our fun, you know.”

“Your views want broadening,” said the Hatter, suddenly. He had been looking at Clara for some time with great curiosity.

Apr 03

Today I was looking at some pretty old documents and was not sure what they’d been created in or how to open them. I fired up Classic and tried opening them in ClarisWorks, MacWritePro, and MacWrite II. No luck. I wondered about the filetype… so I opened ResEdit (it’s been a long time since I did that). Back in the Old Days, you see, Mac documents had a Creator Type and a File Type. I found that the File Type and Creator Type were PWWC and OBOB. I googled PWWC and found nothing. But OBOB looked familiar… I opened ClarisWorks and created a new document, then opened that with ResEdit. It turns out that a ClarisWorks word-processing document for instance, has a File Type CWWP, and the Creator Type is BOBO. and so, somehow, these documents had gone Through the Looking-Glass. Changing them back worked a dream. I thought I’d blog it in case anyone else ever needed to google for PWWC and OBOB.

I am of course updating the document to Pages ’09.

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