Friday, December 5, 2008


This letter is dedicated to my good friend who retired from R B I in Trivandrum—Shri. T.H.Lawrence . He has published a wonderful book on “English Grammar, Composition and Usage”. I take this opportunity to introduce him to you.
Also to all of you (except two)
an American humorist— Richard Armour –
highly original in spinning words and with a fund of genuine humour. You will find at the end of this letter a write-up on him. Dr.Tyagarajan and R V.Kulkarni are familiar with Armour’s works. Maybe some others are also aware.
I am giving an extract from Armour’s book entitled “On Your Marks--A Package on Punctuation”—This is on ?-there are others too ! – ‘ ; :[] * & . . .

Why is a question mark?
What can it be?
Already you’ve two of them. How about three?
It looks like an acrobat perched on a ball
Who has to be nimble or else he will fall.
His legs come down straight,
But his back is a curve,
And keeping his balance
Takes talent
And nerve.
Or is it like smoke that comes lazily curling
From a blaze underneath in a ball that is twirling?
Or a hook used for hanging?
Or maybe a genie
Coming out of a bottle?
(The bottle is teeny.)
Whatever it looks like (Have you a suggestion?),
The question marks raises (and lowers) a question.
No reason to scorn it or ever to doubt it.
This mark’s made its mark.
Any question about it
Richard Willard Armour (1906–1989) was born in California. Armour's autobiographical Drug Store Days recalls his childhood in both San Pedro and Pomona. He attended Pomona College and Harvard where he studied with the eminent Shakespearean scholar Kittredge and obtained a Ph.D. in English philology Armour wrote funny poems in a style reminiscent of Ogden Nash. Armour also wrote satirical books, such as Twisted Tales from Shakespeare, and his ersatz history of the United States, It All Started With Columbus. These books were typically filled with puns and plays on words, and gave the impression of someone who had not quite been paying attention in class, thus also getting basic facts not quite right, to humorous effect.
It All Started with Europa begins in the wilderness full of "fierce animals ready to spring and fierce birds ready to chirp."
It All Started with Marx includes the rabble-rousing Lenin declaring in public "Two pants with every suit!," "Two suits with every pants!" and "TheTsar is a tsap!"
It All started with Eve quotes Napoleon as writing in a letter "Do you, Josephine, miss me? I hope the enemy artillery does."
His book The Classics Reclassified includes take-offs on classic works like David Copperfield, Iliad, Julius Caesar, etc.

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