Posts filed under “Books & Literature”


The Eclectic Library is constantly growing, and as it grows Dr. Boli often finds articles, poems, and whatnot in forgotten out-of-the-way places where no one would ever look for them. Since these things did not fit easily in any of the other publications in his celebrated publishing empire, he has created a home for them, which is modestly named The Argosy of Pure Delight. For example, what did Edgar Allan Poe think of Ralph Waldo Emerson?

Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson belongs to a class of gentlemen with whom we have no patience whatever—the mystics for mysticism’s sake. Quintilian mentions a pedant who taught obscurity, and who once said to a pupil “this is excellent, for I do not understand it myself.” How the good man would have chuckled over Mr. E! His present role seems to be the out-Carlyling Carlyle. Lycophron Tenebrosus is a fool to him. The best answer to his twaddle is cui bono?—a very little Latin phrase very generally mistranslated and misunderstood—cui bono?—to whom is it a benefit? If not to Mr. Emerson individually, then surely to no man living.

Now you know. What else will you discover? Right now there are only five articles, but each one is guaranteed delightful or your money cheerfully refunded at any G. C. Murphy’s location.


Suppose you have written a thesis for your undergraduate course in Economic Inequality in the Works of Edward Lear. You have done your research thoroughly. You have read the textbook you bought for $200. You have read a number of learned articles in journals. You have even read a few of the works of Edward Lear, although frankly you couldn’t make head or tail of them and soon retreated to the soothing drone of your textbook. In short, as far as the research goes, you have done everything that was expected of you, and more besides.

But you still have nagging doubts, which are the worst kind of doubts. Your professor, an archaic fossil who has been teaching these courses since the late twentieth century, is known to grade on purely mechanical rubbish like punctuation and grammar. Can you honestly say that yours is up to snuff? How are you at punctuation and capitalization? Will your subject-verb agreement pass a careful inspection? Do you know how to form adverbs from adjectives without embarrassing yourself? Do you know how to choose the right indefinite article for any occasion?

It all sounds so daunting! But fear not, young people. There is a service that will carefully proofread your thesis for you, and not only that, but will do it while you lounge in a Jacuzzi.

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You will notice that Dr. Boli has left out the links to the Web page and email of this spa-and-proofreading service. That is because you do not need it. All you have to do is set up a Web site with a comment feature, and “jacuzzis for sale in Sun City AZ” comes to you.


Call up any Wikipedia article about literature—a book or an author or a poem or whatever. Now search on that page for the word “bad.”

Dr. Boli predicts, based on a number of experiments, that you will not find it, unless it is in a quotation from the subject of the article, or in a title (like The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts, the only appearance of “bad” in the article on Hilaire Belloc). The word will not appear in the text of the article or in any quotations from modern critical assessments of the subject.

From this observation, when you need a hobby, you may spin a whole diatribe on the extinction of moral and critical clarity.


Fugitive Poems, by Irving Vanderblock-Wheedle. A reward of $37 is offered for the safe return of these poems, which were last seen in a bar in Glassport picking a fight with the notoriously muscular barmaid.