Wednesday, June 03, 2015

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.'

Several years ago, I read Norman Lindsay's The Magic Pudding. I loved it. I did. I really LOVED it. I found it to be charming and delightful and wonderful. Part of the charm comes from the illustrations. (It is very important to read The Magic Pudding WITH illustrations.) Part of it comes from the songs or the poetry sprinkled throughout the novel. And then there's just the silliness--the absurdness--of the story itself.

The Magic Pudding stars a koala bear, Bunyip Bluegum. He goes off on his adventures primarily because he's tired of his Uncle Wattleberry's whiskers. He soon meets some new friends. Bill Barnacle is a sailor traveling with Sam Sawnoff (a penguin) and Albert (a pudding). Albert is THE magic pudding. And the adventures--in four slices, I believe--center around Albert and those that would steal him away. In each adventure, the three friends are in danger of losing their pudding to pudding thieves. Each adventure seems just a bit sillier than the one that came before. It may seem ridiculous, but, the book truly is a delight to read.

One of the early songs from the book, it was one of the early indicators that it would be LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.
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!' 
 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.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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