Wednesday, September 4, 2019

"Stabbed in Eleven Places!"

A BURLESQUE is "a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects" (Wikipedia; HERE).

Although it helps to be familiar with the work being burlesqued, in the following instance (transmuting a self-improvement book into a crime story) written by the man who gave us Winnie the Pooh (and, incidentally, just as funny as the man who gave us Jeeves), we think you'll agree that it isn't necessary to know anything at all about Eustace Miles and his serial Healthward Ho! to get a kick out of it . . .

"A Didactic Novel: The Mystery of Gordon Square."
By A. A. Milne (1882-1956).
First appearance: Punch (date unknown).
Collected in Once a Week (1914).

Short short short story (3 pages as a PDF).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE) or, failing that, (HERE; scroll to TOC).
(Note: Gutenberg URLs are slippery; it might require several clicks to get there.)

     "Roger returns home quickly, and decides to practise breathing through the ears."

As usual with the best comic writers, we'll refrain from further comment and let the author work his charms.

- A good starting place with Alan Alexander Milne is the Wikipedia entry (HERE). As 
for Eustace Miles (1868-1948)—yes, he was for real—FictionMags lists 18 articles by 
him prior to 1914 promoting a healthy lifestyle, with titles like "What to Eat to Keep 
Fit" (1900), "The Art of Exercise" (1902), "The ABC of Daily Physical Life" (1903), 
and so on.
- We've already featured The Red House Mystery (1922) several times (HERE), (HERE), 
and (HERE), and some of his other short works having criminous themes (HERE).
- Another surge of waggishness on Milne's part, also from Punch, is his three-act play 
The Double Mystery (1914), online at (HERE; slow-load PDF; 1 page; go 
down to PDF page 932). (Note: Due to printing errors, the letter "e" might sometimes 
resemble an "o".)

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