Thursday, 10 August 2006


From the moment I first read James Thurber's stories, essays, fables and fairy-tales, I fell in love with a writer who possessed a rapier wit capable of unerringly striking its mark despite - or, perhaps, because of - his wildly lopsided view of life, men, women and dogs...

From the moment I saw my first cartoon by James Thurber - drawn with the visual equivalent of his literary mental squint - I have been slavishly devoted to his deliciously dotty doodles. And of all his many zany jokes, this remains my all-time favourite:

"Perhaps this will refresh your memory"

In the days when I used to lecture on 'creative writing' (which was in the days when I probably thought creativity could be taught!), I would show this cartoon to my class and invite students to extemporise a back-story that might have led to this moment of confrontation in what is, presumably, a kangaroo court!

Today, I recognise that it needs no explanation to make it funny and that, in fact, it is the very absence of any explanation - indeed, of all logic and sense - that elevates this joke to a work of pure, uninhibited genius!

1 comment:

David Weeks said...

My Favourite is:
The drawing showing a dinner table with the speaker sat at one end of it, drawn slightly larger than the other three guests, all holding their glasses of Burgundy, but looking at the speaker.

'It's a Naïve Domestic Burgundy Without Any Breeding, But I Think You'll be Amused by its Presumption.'