Author: Edward Lear
Published: 2016 (from various original sources)
If you know me by know, you know that I have a weakness for word play and nonsense. The earliest works with word play that I read (or were read to me) were books by Roald Dahl and the Dutch author Annie M.G. Smith. Dutch literature, however, does not have a tradition of nonsense as literary genre. Because of that, it took me a while to discover beauties like Alice in Wonderland and its sequel. I knew Lewis Carroll had a contemporary who also excelled in the nonsense genre, but I had never read anything by Edward Lear until I stumbled upon this Penguin Black Classic.
It is a small collection of Lear’s most famous nonsense poems and little stories. I very much enjoyed reading it. Perhaps the collection would have been a little bit better if Penguin had included Lear’s own and original illustrations. I missed those in this collection, although I understand that it is not the purpose of the Penguin Black Classics to illustrate well-known works, but rather introduce readers to new authors. I can definitely see why Lear is so popular, especially with children, and his prose also goes very well with modern illustrations, like in this book or this one.
I do recommend this specific little book if you want to try something new and are intrigued by word play and nonsense, but if you’re already familiar with Lear’s work I suggest you pick up something illustrated!