Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm A Mean Beast and Cut it Very Fine

Before Video Week took over everyone's life at Man is Men, there was a discussion that addressed the inability of a certain E.R. Eddison to "Murder his Darlings" in his deranged epic The Worm Ouroboros. 

To "Murder" one's "Darlings" is a sentiment echoed down through the century in the craft of writing in regards to an element of one's work that one may be too emotionally attached and, consequently, cannot make a proper editorial decision about whether or not the element enhances or detracts from the larger work.

Fellow Blogger of Writing Kristen Lamb writes a astute analysis of the concept here.

However, when one turns their eye to the phrase "Murder Your Darlings," one may wonder who came up with such a poetic decree for the unwashed hordes of sentimental scribblers.

It is this man. 

His name was Arthur Quiller-Couch and he set the tempo and tone for literary tastes during the first part of the 20th Century. 
Just as Anna Wintour was a taste maker in the world of fashion through Vogue magazine, Quiller-Couch   acted as the arbiter of literary trends with his mundane-sounding Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900.  

He preferred to be called "Q." His office was called the Q-bicle. This is his tombstone.

Perhaps you, like me, have felt that Arthur Quiller-Couch has had no deep effects on your life. But, Q has been worked into the DNA of a book that has had a larger part in my life than I ever realized --Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. 

Grahame was so affected by Quiller-Couch's character that he fashioned his sensualist character, Ratty, after him.

The past century has not been good to the aesthetic of Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. After Disney got their sanitizing gloves on the piece, they transformed it into a very American cartoon, draining it of all the details that made it a unique piece that reflected the air of the day. Capitalization reaching a capitulation point with the invention of a roller-coaster?!

In my estimation, the only way to experience The Wind in the Willows (aside from reading it) is through the absurd stentorian tones of Carry-On alumni Kenneth Williams as follows:

I'm a Mean Beast and Cut it Very Fine.


  1. Very good! I will name a flavor in the honor of Q. It will be called "Darling Murder Delight"!

  2. WOW! this audio clip really is amazing...he reminds me of the mustachioed fellow in the old "brideshead"