British cartoonist Rowson and literary history


This video from Britain is called In the Picture – Cartoonist of the Year – Martin Rowson.

By James Eagle in Britain:

The Limerickiad Volume II: John Donne To Jane Austen

by Martin Rowson, Smokestack Books, £9.99

Monday 03 December 2012

The irrepressible skewerer of humbug and hypocrisy picks up where he left off a year ago with the second volume of his five-lines-at-a-time romp through the literary classics.

Having zoomed all the way from Gilgamesh to Shakespeare in the first book, this time Martin Rowson’s given himself just 200 years to play in.

But it’s a tumultuous two centuries taking in John Milton, the metaphysical poets, the Romantics, Tristram Shandy and Frenchmen both scatological and revolutionary, plus Gulliver’s Travels, which Rowson has already had one stab at this year in the shape of his illustrated modern retelling.

The pace never flags as Rowson delivers a tumbling torrent of twisted puns and tortured scansion in which “Midlothian” can’t help but rhyme with “Govean” or “Quixote” with “smacked botty”, and you’ll find yourself having to keep stopping because you’re laughing too hard to try to force the lines into the right meter.

Don’t let the groansome versifying fool you, though.

The man knows his stuff when it comes to the currents of literature and there’s plenty of insight and savage wit amid the mayhem.

Rowson’s at his best when he’s having the most fun and though sometimes those targets are obvious – the sex-obsessed Donne and de Sade and the misanthropic Dr Johnson, for starters – some are pleasingly unpredictable.

He spends a lot more time playing brilliantly with Jane Austen’s tedious romances than with drug-addled radicals like Coleridge and William Blake who might have seemed right up his street.

Paradise Lost gets the extended treatment as Rowson pulls off the rare feat of making Milton’s interminable mitherings not only readable but hilarious.

But those are just a handful of the highlights in another must-have for the bookish, the cynical and gourmets of deliberately dreadful verse.

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One thought on “British cartoonist Rowson and literary history

  1. Pingback: British cartoonist’s limericks, about Byron, Baudelaire, etc. | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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