Every week since 2006, the award-winning cartoonist and writer Martin Rowson has been making a fool of himself in The Independent on Sunday by reducing the work of some of the world's best-loved writers to a series of puerile and filthy limericks. Following the success of the first two volumes of The Limerickad (from Gilgamesh to Jane Austen) The Limerickiad volume III lays waste to the literary greats of the nineteenth-century. Rowson mangles Melville, puts the boot into the BrontŃs and defaces the complete works of Dickens. He even finds time to write a limerick in homage to its inventor ('When a runcible fellow called Lear...').
The time: 1830s; Place: Lyme, Where the crumbling cliffs, well worth a climb, Reveal loads of fossils Who see off Apostles In deep geological time. And though Churchmen gibber and shout, Insisting the Flood wiped them out, When God puts before us A Megalosaurus These dinosaurs call all in doubt!* But if Learning's in flux, what of Lit? Did dinosaurs feature? A bit. I think no great classic Is all that Jurassic, But if you look North, there's a fit. The BRONTĖS were not from a poor class Though all could've done with some more brass While the moors stretched for miles 'Cos the girls all got piles!** And there is your link ā BRONTĖ sore arse!*** * It was LYELL who made such talk legal While DARWIN embarked on The Beagle... ** The vicarage in Howarth was drafty (And draughty with books too! There's crafty!) ***BRANWELL cracked this joke. 'Oh good grief!' The girls cried. More of them o'erleaf. As he dipped each girl's head in the font, he Reflected, did Reverend BRONTĖ, With his home's cold stone floors And the wild windswept moors They'd never be that MARY QUANTY, Nor would they dress in diamonte,* Nor croon tunes like H. BELLAFONTE, But though they lacked looks These girls might write books! And thus was the fate of each BRONTĖ, So he brought them up showing you can dwell On moors and write verse that can scan well While the damp, folk insist, has Killed Mum and two sisters And a stoned, pissed-up brother called BRANWELL! But you'll see there's a problem here. Hell! The name's hard to rhyme and to spell! Which is why, I suppose, The BRONTĖS all chose As their first nom de plume the name BELL...** * It's said thus in posh shops, like 'Modom'. And if folk don't believe me ā well, sod 'em! ** Plus they said they were male. It's not sarky To blame this sleight on Patriarchy...
MR LOCKWOOD, on one of those nights Yorkshire's famous for, gets several frights!* Is 'e 'avin' a laff? 'No!' his host cries. 'It's CATH!' NELLIE DEAN explains, 'at Wuthering Heights CATHY loved HEATHCLIFF, though wed ED. CATH's bro HINDLEY, it's said, Drank. Ed's sis ISSY O'er HEATHCLIFF grew dizzy. Their son LINTON's a drip. All are dead Save HEATHCLIFF, and now he's benighted Those two children's lives!'** All is righted When Lockwood returns Eight months later and learns H. & CATH are in Death reunited! 'But HEATHCLIFF were wild!' NELL said. 'Mothering Is what that lad needed. Or smothering. But the lot - has thou guessed? - Were so sexually repressed*** They all needed a bloody good Wuthering!' * A ghost, past the window, went whoosh! It's described very well by Kate Bush. ** HARETON, HINDLEY's son, was now, I fear HEATHCLIFF'S ward. And CATH's CATH's girl.All Clear? *** Do you think ā though in shame is this voiced - As she wrote it that EMILY got... moist?
On those wild windswept moors without trees Certain factors pertain, if you please: The men are Byronic (Though their manners are chronic) And the BRONTĖ girls all come in threes! So, the first Mrs ROCHESTER's call Will ruin your sleep; then you'll fall For brooding HEATHCLIFFE! Then read ANNE B.'s riff In THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL. For herein this fem'nist debunks Traditional marriage! She dunks Her women in deeper Than when thou dipst sheep! Er... The men? They're adulterous drunks! Let's rebrand the uvre so it's stated The Sisters' lives won't be frustrated! ROCHESTER and his mate Will seek help from Relate, And HEATHCLIFFE, of course, be castrated...
Dear Reader, my name is JANE EYRE. No folk round these parts really care, For I am an Orphan And many a corffin Is filled with my best friends. Despair Is compounded when I must, perforce, Seek Work (as a Governess, of course) Worse still, my new boss Will be terribly cross 'Cos I made him fall off of his horse! But we fall in love! Then we get proof That life is a bitch, for in truth, While we two got pally His first wife's doolally And locked in a room near the roof! * I flee! I return! Had I tarried... Him? She burned the place down! Cruel fate harried him: Blind and crippled! Will no man In this bildungsroman Be mine at last?!? Reader - I married him! ** * 'It's BIGAMY!' We plight our troth To these words, though it's big of us both. ** Though given his state when I married him In practice thereafter I carried him...
'another must-have for the bookish, the cynical and gourmets of deliberately dreadful verse.'
'He writes as well as he draws... a riot of literature and laughs.'
'a book which wears its erudition like a drunk the suit heās slept in... a great way to get people who think literature is stuffy and superior talking about books.'
Mistress Quickly's Bed