Saturday, 17 December 2016

Book Review : Complete Nonsense by Edward Lear

Throughout my idea of Lear was - a Children's Limerick writer! From what I had read about his life, that made sense. He wrote those five-lined rhyming poems for the children of his patron Edward Stanley, the 13th Earl of Derby. After reading this compilation however, that view of mine has changed considerably! This book has the following parts and along with my reactions are listed under :

1. A Book of Nonsense - √ :) :D
I had read this volume earlier separately and it is a joyride. Funny! A nice book for children and adults alike. You can also learn about certain pronunciations you did wrong earlier by rhyming along.

2. More Nonsense - √ :D :)
(More ha-ha-ha!!!)
Funny, weirder and funny! His neologisms (words not accepted in mainstream literature, but have some popular use of various kinds) are amazing to read aloud, and today many are dictionary words!

3. Nonsense songs - √ :) :D
(Ha-ha-ha. :\ What?!? Oh! Ha!)
I was a fan of Jumblies and their sieve for quite some time; and they, along with Quangle-Wangles, Pobbles, are Lear's reappearing heroes. Lear's nonsense songs were once so famous that some phrases became a part of mainstream literature expressions. An example is the "Owl and the Pussy Cat" 's 'runcible spoon'!
"They dined on mince, and slices of quince
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon."
But not all songs are as nonsensical as the poems are. Some are based on "reductio ad absurdum" (reduction to absurdity) where an argument disproves a statement by showing its compulsive absurd conclusion. This shows the range of literary forms Lear used in his writings, and did best.

4. Nonsense stories and alphabets - √ :) :D
(The first story is okay : typical Lear. BUT the second : Really disturbing!
The parents teach children not to so some things, which they do and all the children of seven families die in weird and even grotesque ways. Perhaps the motivation was to teach the children a lesson of how important it it to listen to your parents. But this way seems strange! And then the parents starve themselves and make a pickle of themselves and are now kept in a museum!!! It is eerie!
What was Lear thinking writing these?
They are nonsensical sure, as promised but the sense of humor is very dark and not at all suited for children. It will be disturbing to them, as per myself. 
This broke my perception of Lear!

5. Nonsense alphabets - √ :) :D
(Perfect for teaching infants!)

6. Nonsense cookery - √ :) :D
(What does he mean? :P )

7. The Heraldic Blazon of Foss the Cat - √ :) :D
(Hail Foss! _/\_ )

In this collection, the type of humor ranges from typical silly, children's to really dark humor and literary devices used very aptly. The range I had imagined Lear was set in has been made vast considerably after reading this collection. The variety presented in this particular genre is phenomenal. It is a really good read for limerick lovers and Lear fans.

I give Complete Nonsense by Edward Lear 4 stars! :)

Happy reading! :)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thank you so much Neeraj for your motivation...

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Oh! Really! Thank you so much... It means a lot... :)

  5. Nice review dear... You talked a lot about the diversity of Lear... Good job :)