The Book That Changed My Life: The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear

I first encountered The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear in 1967. Had it been nothing more than a weirdly illustrated bundle of limericks, it probably wouldn’t have made such a profound impression on my ten-year-old brain. What riveted me were the nonsense songs and stories, nonsensical recipes for impossible-to-prepare entrees, and three surrealistically drawn portfolios of nonsense botany. To me this all seemed like an attractive alternative to a violent and irrational world full of embittered, miserable adults. Lear seemed to be urging his readers to find within ourselves a deeply personal creative alchemy, capable of transforming Weltschmerz into whimsy. Thenceforth, my role models became the Akond of Swat, the Yonghy Bonghy Bo, and the Dong with a Luminous Nose.

Whenever I revisit my trusty one dollar “Dover Edition designed for years of use”, I realize all over again how a chance encounter with The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear inspired me to become who I’ve been morphing into ever since. Edward Lear’s unconventional approach to reality has seen me through all kinds of challenges, in a world that today seems more nonsensical than ever.

–arwulf arwulf
media consultant and freelance writer

Featured in March 2017 newsletter