Despite being unceremoniously sacked by The Independent on Sunday in 2013, the award-winning cartoonist Martin Rowson has continued to churn out the ridiculous series of limericks they once paid him to write for them. It’s almost as though he enjoys making a fool of himself by reducing the work of some of the world’s best-loved writers to a series of puerile and filthy limericks. Following the embarrassing success of the first three volumes (from Gilgamesh to Baudelaire) The Limerickiad volume IV lowers the tone further by abusing all the early Modernists from Eliot to Eliot. Rowson joshes with Joyce and James, has a hoot reading Hardy, insists on trying to be funny in the company of some gloomy Russians and Scandinavians, and pisses himself with Prufrock. Unbelievable.
At a soiree PRINCE ANDREI and PIERRE In their own different fashions prepare For War! ANDREI’s posh While the ROSTOVS seem gauche* And DOLOKHOV’s bad, so beware! If you’d like to know the true costov Land Management, don’t ask a ROSTOV. Pierre duels**. Austerlitz Sees Andrei blown to bits And that’s Book 2 more or less tossedov. Dumped by NATASHA, ANDREI’s jaded. PIERRE’s idealism has faded Though now the book’s more Or less about War Because BONAPARTE has invaded. NAPOLEON retreats with PIERRE. ANDREI dies of his wounds, beyond care, First forgiving NATASH And so – bish bosh bash! – She now marries PIERRE! The End! Yeah! Epilogue Some survive. Others take early baths, And TOLSTOY says History’s like Maths... * In translation this doesn’t quite rhyme, But this book’s bloody thick! Give it time! ** Does it matter that PIERRE’s embracin’ e sinister life of the Mason?
Every morning just wearing his socks TROLLOPE wrote, then chased after a fox Whilst administ’ring The Post In which role he could boast He invented the red pillar box!* He wrote of the Church’s estate In ways I’ll now seek to truncate: Thoughts of Deans’ daughters’ knickers And low plots by vicars Dominate these books, in sextuplate. If that’s all too mitre-y and chalice-r, Instead you can read of the PALLISER Clan! (Gets quite soapy And plotwise just dopey Does Victorian Lit get much Dallas-er?) Nonetheless several very well read Statesman have publicly said That these books are so neat Nothing else can quite beat Curling up with a TROLLOPE in bed!** * This self-serving ruse shows some brass neck, Just to post him his royalty cheque! ** Thus spake PM HAROLD MACMILLAN: Unlike PROFUMO he was just chillin’.
As to poets who hid under rocks – Miss EMILY DICKINSON’s Frocks Were white – Short, her Verse – Her manners – quite terse – With a ticked ‘No Publicity’ box...
In Shropshire there once was this lad Who was laddish and wild and quite bad* And dead at one-and-twenty Exactly like plenty Of others. How terribly sad. * I think we’ll gloss over the thrills To be had by blue remembered hills....
It is an unquestionable tenet That Prosperity’s not for you when it Turns out Life’s Lottery’s Seen you born in the Potteries. Unless, of course, you’re ARNOLD BENNETT.
‘although the rhymes can sometimes make you groan, they’re meant to, and they delight you with their inventiveness.’
Ian McMillan, Yorkshire Post
‘a delightfully dirty digest of literature from Gilgamesh to Shakespeare.’
Independent on Sunday
‘He writes as well as he draws... a riot of literature and laughs.’
‘a book which wears its erudition like a drunk the suit he’s slept in.’
Mistress Quickly’s Bed
‘another must-have for the bookish, the cynical and gourmets of deliberately dreadful verse.’