Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What about "The Twit"?

Yesterday's post, about the archaic terms for various levels of mental deficiency, put me in mind of one of the funniest books I've ever seen. It's called The Book of Sequels, with excerpts from, or promotions for, everything from Brideshead Revisited Revisited to Pride and Extreme Prejudice. Here's the blurb (featuring, as do many of the books, appropriate cover art) for the latter:
The action-packed sequel to Pride and Prejudice introduced a new Bennet sister, "Dirty" Harriet, who won the hearts of Jane Austen fans by forestalling an insult from Elizabeth Bennet's old nemesis, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, with a cool "I have no objection, your ladyship, to your proceeding, since, by so doing, you shall render my afternoon quite agreeable."
Naturally, the sequel I was reminded of here was that to The Idiot. In fact, as the ad tells us, Dostoyevsky wrote no fewer than nineteen such sequels, and for a limited time only, you may subscribe to The American Sequel Society's series, starting with two representative volumes, and receiving a new volume every month. If you decide to cancel, you may return The Imbecile and keep The Fathead absolutely free! Here's the complete list:
The Idiot I: The Idiot
The Idiot II: The Imbecile
The Idiot III: The Moron
The Idiot IV: The Cretin
The Idiot V: The Lamebrain
The Idiot VI: The Dimbulb
The Idiot VII: The Nitwit
The Idiot VIII: The Fathead
The Idiot IX: The Numbskull
The Idiot X: The Dumb Bunny
The Idiot XI: The Yo-Yo
The Idiot XII: The Dolt
The Idiot XIII: The Clod
The Idiot XIV: The Chump
The Idiot XV: The Sap
The Idiot XVI: The Dunce
The Idiot XVII: The Boob
The Idiot XVIII: The Dope
The Idiot XIX: The Ninny
The Idiot XX: The Nincompoop
Interestingly, the first three titles follow the official categories from low to high, as I explained yesterday: idiot, imbecile, moron. Of course, in Dostoyevsky's time those terms, so construed, were not anachronistic.

By the way, the amendment passed, but only by 59 percent to 41. That looks crazy – who would bother to vote no? But what they think happened is that a lot of people voted the same way on all five questions (there were Republican signs saying "vote no on all questions"). That (the sign anyway) makes a bit of sense; it's easier to say (or remember) "vote no on all" than "vote no on numbers 1, 2, 3, and 5; 4 sounds okay". Of course, if you bothered to read the thing, you can see it doesn't raise your taxes.

No comments: