Tom Swifty’s Course in Nonsense

“But mark me, my friend, as the sheep said to the boy that carried the tar — I must tell you once again that the gift of song hath departed from me — henceforth look for poetry in a politician — a Peel — a placeman — a pig in a poke — a pump — a ppair of ppumpps — a post paid parcel — a paint pot — a publican — a pint of porter — a puncheon of perry — a pottle of purl — a pseudo-patriot — a poultice of putty — a pickpocket — a pyramid of potatoes — a penn’orth of pork — a pitcher of punch — a plum pudding — a pan of pastry — a peck of pink eyes — a periwig-pated pendant — a policeman — a protuberant paunch — a prig — a platter of porridge — a porringer of pottage — a potbellied poulterer — a pamphlet on poorlaws — a pedlar — a Palmerston — a pot of prog — a poker — The Poker — a pitchfork — a proser — in anything or anybody in short — but in the Man in the Cloak.” – James Clarence Mangan (correspondence, 1840)

A Blog of Bosh

Swifty, Tom. A Course in Nonsense: Your Pea-Green Guide to Nonsense Literature. Rotterdam: Brave New Books, 2015.


Tom Swifty’s book is exactly what it purports to be, a quick introduction to nonsense literature from ancient Greece to modern times.

As the American nonsense poet Dr. Seuss put it, ‘Oh, the thinks you can think!’

This book is a guide to such thinks. It is a reader’s guide with a simple premise: if you like the works of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, you may also like these other poems, stories and plays. These pages will show you that there us more to the English school of nonsense than just Lear and Carroll, and that there are more schools of nonsense than just the English one (5).

Although it is presented as a “consumer’s guide” (12) to nonsense and pretends to have no pretense at presenting its own theory of…

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