the death of edward lear

“Thus the guests began, as time passed, to regard the affair in an historical light. They told their friends about it, reenacted parts of it for their children and grandchildren. They would reproduce the way the old man had piped ‘I’ve no money!’ in a comical voice, and quote his odd remarks about marrying. The death of Edward Lear became so popular, as the time passed, that revivals were staged in every part of the country, with considerable success. The death of Edward Lear can still be seen, in the smaller cities, in versions enriched by learned interpretation, textual emendation, and changing fashion. One modification is curious; no one knows how it came about. The supporting company plays in the traditional way, but Lear himself appears shouting, shaking, vibrant with rage.”

(Donald Barthelme, “The Death of Edward Lear,” from Overnight to Many Distant Cities.)

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