Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bulwer-Lytton

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A contribution from Graham E: 

Hi Mr O,  
Here is someone that could make an interesting Byte subject:
Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, PC (25 May 1803 – 18 January 1873) 


An English novelist, poet, playwright, and politician. He was immensely popular with the reading public and wrote a stream of bestselling novels which earned him a considerable fortune.  
He coined the phrases "the great unwashed", "pursuit of the almighty dollar", "the pen is mightier than the sword", "dweller on the threshold", and the well-known and much-parodied opening line "It was a dark and stormy night".  
Several of Bulwer-Lytton's novels were made into operas, one of which, Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen (1842) by Richard Wagner, eventually became more famous than the novel.  
Leonora (1846) by William Henry Fry, the first European-styled "grand" opera composed in the United States, is based on Bulwer-Lytton's play The Lady of Lyons, as is Frederic Cowen's first opera Pauline (1876).  
Verdi rival Errico Petrella's most successful opera, Jone (1858), was based upon Bulwer-Lytton's The Last Days of Pompeii, and was performed all over the world until the First World War.
Harold, the Last of the Saxons (1848) was the source for Verdi's opera Aroldo in 1857. 
 
In Queensland, Australia the Brisbane suburb of Lytton is to be found on Bulwer Island which today is home to the Port of Brisbane. Also in Queensland on Moreton Island (Moorgumpin) is located another settlement by the name of Bulwer.The township of Lytton, Quebec (today part of Montcerf-Lytton) was named after him as was Lytton, British Columbia, and Lytton, Iowa. Lytton Road in Gisborne, New Zealand was named after the novelist and subsequently a state secondary school, Lytton High School was established on the street.  
Regards  
Mr G 
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Comments: 
  • Graham mentioned the parodied opening line “It was a dark and stormy night.” Many will recall that line from the Peanuts comic strip, where it is a running gag about Snoopy’s attempts to write his novel: 

  • The original line is from Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel Paul Clifford, the whole paragraph being: 
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. 
  • In 1982 Professor Scott E. Rice of the English Department at San Jose State University started a tongue in cheek competition "to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” He named it the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. 
  • Over the years the publicity has generated greater contributions and there are now several subcategories, such as detective fiction, romance novels, Western novels, and purple prose. Sentences that are notable but not quite bad enough to merit the Grand Prize or a category prize are awarded Dishonourable Mentions. 
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Some Grand Prize Winners: 

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2017: 

The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening. 

Kat Russo, Loveland, Colorado 

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2016: 

Even from the hall, the overpowering stench told me the dingy caramel glow in his office would be from a ten-thousand-cigarette layer of nicotine baked on a naked bulb hanging from a frayed wire in the center of a likely cracked and water-stained ceiling, but I was broke, he was cheap, and I had to find her. 

William "Barry" Brockett, Tallahassee, FL 

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2015: 

Seeing how the victim's body, or what remained of it, was wedged between the grill of the Peterbilt 389 and the bumper of the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT, officer "Dirk" Dirksen wondered why reporters always used the phrase "sandwiched" to describe such a scene since there was nothing appetizing about it, but still, he thought, they might have a point because some of this would probably end up on the front of his shirt. 

Joel Phillips, West Trenton, NJ 

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2014: 

When the dead moose floated into view the famished crew cheered – this had to mean land! – but Captain Walgrove, flinty-eyed and clear headed thanks to the starvation cleanse in progress, gave fateful orders to remain on the original course and await the appearance of a second and confirming moose. 

Elizabeth (Betsy) Dorfman, Bainbridge Island, WA 

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2013: 

She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination. 

Chris Wieloch, Brookfield, WI 

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2012 

As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting. 

Cathy Bryant, Manchester, England 

Personally I think this should have won the Grand Prize that year: 
As an ornithologist, George was fascinated by the fact that urine and feces mix in birds’ rectums to form a unified, homogeneous slurry that is expelled through defecation, although eying Greta's face, and sensing the reaction of the congregation, he immediately realized he should have used a different analogy to describe their relationship in his wedding vows. 
       David Pepper, Hermosa Beach, CA 

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Read all the winners, including for sub-categories, on the website at: 


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