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Nonsense Stories and Poems    by Edward Lear & Claire Bloom order for
Nonsense Stories and Poems
by Edward Lear
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In this unabridged (35 minutes) CD, a collection of Edward Lear's Nonsense Stories and Poems is performed expressively by Claire Bloom.

It begins with the History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple-Popple. In this tale, the seven children of each family (parrots, storks, geese, owls, guinea pigs, cats, and fishes) all perish - a 'calamitous extinction' - primarily because they don't listen to their elders. It's funny in a morbid kind of way. On hearing of their offsprings' demise, the sad parents pickle themselves and donate the bottles to a museum. I enjoyed Incidents in the Life of My Uncle Arly, which tells his life story in verse, starting 'Oh my aged Uncle Arly / Sitting on a heap of barley', and with the refrain 'But his shoes were far too tight.' Then we have several strange episodes in The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Round the World (Violet, Slingsby, Guy and Lionel), accompanied by a cat who steered and a Quangle Wangle who cooked.

There's not much sense to any of it, but then it's intended to be nonsense after all, and succeeds admirably and with great silliness. I had hoped for more poetry in the collection, but nevertheless enjoyed Lear's use of language, rich in alliteration and with rollicking rhythm.

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