05 November 2010

Susanna Moodie's Bloomers



A gift from a friend, this modest booklet became part of my collection just weeks after I was introduced to the bloomer by the ever-informative Bookride. Known first, I think, as "inadvertencies", these are double entendres mined from the Western Canon. The woefully neglected Edward Gathorne-Hardy seems to have been the first to recognize the bloomer when in 1963 he published Inadvertencies collected from the works of several eminent authors. He followed this three years later with An Adult's Garden of Bloomers: Uprooted from the Works of Several Eminent Authors.

And they are eminent. Here's Henry James with a little something from The Wings of the Dove:
Then she had had her equal consciousness that within five minutes something between them had – well, she couldn't call it anything but come.
James, it seems, gave growth to more than his fair share of bloomers. How's this from Roderick Hudson?
"Oh, I can't explain," cried Roderick impatiently, returning to his work. "I've only one way of expressing my deepest feelings – it's this." And he swung his tool.
"Contributed by the public", like An Adult Garden of Bloomers, A New Garden of Bloomers is oh so English: Charles Dickens, E. M. Forster, Thomas Hardy...

And then there's Jane Austen:
Mrs Goddard was the mistress of a school – not of a seminary, or an establishment, or any thing which professed, in long sentences of refined nonsense, to combine liberal acquirements with elegant morality upon new principles and new systems – and where young ladies for enormous pay might be screwed out of health and into vanity...
No Canadian bloomers, alas – and yet our soil is so fertile!


I had bloomers on my dirty mind when rereading – yes, rereading – Susanna Moodie's Roughing It in the Bush. And that's when I came across this:
At a few miles' distance from our farm, we had some intelligent English neighbours, of a higher class; but they were always so busily occupied with their farming operations that they had little leisure or inclination for that sort of easy intercourse to which we had been accustomed.
Too subtle? Well, it is a start. I'm sure that there are more colourful Canadian bloomers out there.

And what about Roughing It in the Bush? Can a title be a bloomer? Gathorne-Hardy never addresses the matter.

"How many fine young men have I seen beggared and ruined in the bush!" Moodie exclaims in her follow-up, Life in the Clearing. The same book features this reportage of her encounter with a group of evengelicals:
Most of these tents exhibited some extraordinary scene of fanaticism and religious enthusiasm; the noise and confusion were deafening. Men were preaching at the very top of their voice; women were shrieking and groaning, beating their breasts and tearing their hair, while others were uttering the most frantic outcries, which they called ejaculatory prayers.
Not really bloomer, but I couldn't resist passing it on.

Really, there's a part of me that is still ten years old.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent! I'm going to glean the somewhat fertile ground of Adams' book and see if I can find any bloomers. For a minute I was thinking too literally and was going to tell you, "Sorry, Brian, Dolly does not show hers off to Dick." Although a later Adams detective novel (The Secret of Lonesome Cove) that eschews all his previous fantastical elements (to a degree) does have a fascination with women's underwear. For a specific plot purpsoe, of course. Written in 1911, too.

    I'll join you in your confession. My younger brother and I (and even my partner) are hopeless ten year olds when it comes to body functions and body fluids. I'm not ashamed to admit it as I approach the half century mark. (and it approaches with lightning speed this year. ...sigh...) But for some reason I can't stand all those movies that are nothing but toilet, vomit and fart jokes. I guess I can only indulge my ten year old spirit in moderation and not in inundation.

    [And as if this comment hasn't gone on way too long already... The word verification for this was "excrola" which sounds like a neologism for some dirty body function.]

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