Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading The Magic Pudding (1918)

The Magic Pudding. Norman Lindsay. 1918. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]

This is a frontways view of Bunyip Bluegum and his Uncle Wattleberry. At a glance you can see what a fine, round, splendid fellow Bunyip Bluegum is, without me telling you. At a second glance you can see that the Uncle is more square than round, and that his face has whiskers on it. Looked at sideways you can still see what a splendid fellow Bunyip is, though you can only see one of his Uncle's whiskers. Observed from behind, however, you completely lose sight of the whiskers, and so fail to realize how immensely important they are. In fact, these very whiskers were the chief cause of Bunyip's leaving home to see the world, for as he often said to himself--
'Whiskers alone are bad enough
Attached to faces coarse and rough;
But how much greater their offence is
When stuck on Uncles' countenances.'

Thus begins the ever-delightful fantasy, The Magic Pudding. It is very important to read The Magic Pudding WITH illustrations. Without the illustrations, the book wouldn't be as charming, as perfect.

Bunyip Bluegum, our hero, is a koala who's about to have a great adventure. Soon after leaving home, he meets Bill Barnacle (a sailor) and Sam Sawnoff (a penguin). He also meets (and eats) Albert, a pudding--THE MAGIC PUDDING of the title. This is a fortunate meeting because he had forgotten to pack any food for his journey.
'Dear me,' he said, 'I feel quite faint. I had no idea that one's stomach was so important. I have everything that I require, except food; but without food everything is rather less than nothing.
I've got a stick to walk with.
I've got a mind to think with.
I've got a voice to talk with.
I've got an eye to wink with.
I've lots of teeth to eat with,
A brand new hat to bow with,
A pair of fists to beat with,
A rage to have a row with.
No joy it brings
To have indeed
A lot of things
One does not need.
Observe my doleful plight.
For here I am without a crumb
To satisfy a raging tum--
O what an oversight!' 
It is the Pudding who invites Bunyip to lunch.
'There you are,' said Bill. 'There's nothing this Puddin' enjoys more than offering slices of himself to strangers.'
'How very polite of him,' said Bunyip, but the Puddin' replied loudly--
'Politeness be sugared, politeness be hanged,
Politeness be jumbled and tumbled and banged.
It's simply a matter of putting on pace,
Politeness has nothing to do with the case.' 
It is during their meal that he learns of the pudding's magic: it is a "cut-an'-come-again Puddin'"

In this adventure, it's a fierce battle between the three professional puddin' owners and the two professional puddin' thieves. In all four slices, Bill, Sam, and Bunyip face off against the horrid thieves--a Wombat and a Possum. It's a delightful blend of prose and poetry.

I definitely recommend this Australian classic.

The Puddin' Owners' Anthem:
The solemn word is plighted,
The solemn tale is told,
We swear to stand united,
Three puddin'-owners bold.
When we with rage assemble,
Let puddin'-snatches groan;
Let puddin'-burglars tremble,
They'll never our puddin' own.
Hurrah for puddin-owning,
Hurrah for Friendship's hand,
The pudding'-thieves are groaning
To see our noble band.
Hurrah, we'll stick together,
And always bear in mind
To eat our puddin' gallantly,
Whenever we're inclined.
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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