31 July 2010

If you like bad writing...

...and if you are reading this blog, odds are you do, then you will be delighted to know the annual Bulwer Lytton fiction contest results came out.

One must be very careful when one puts pen to paper: One never knows what may come of it.  For those of you who don't know, the contest is to write the opening line of what would be the worst novel ever written. It is named after Victorian novelist Bulwer-Lytton, who gave us such lines as "The pen is mightier than the the sword," or "The Great Unwashed" or "The almighty dollar". His novels included "The Last days of Pompeii" and "The Coming Race" which, through a very twisted path, gave rise to a very nasty Nazi mysticism, all centred around the search for some mystic power Lytton named "vril". Lytton would have been horrified to know what the Nazis had done with his work, but it is possible he may have been amused that a soup stock company took his little made up word of mystic power and combine it with the Latin word for cow to name their product, suggesting they were tapping into some kind of mystic cow power, or Bovril.

His most famous line, however, came from a now forgotten novel by the name of Paul Clifford. The line, loved and parodied many times over, is the opening words of the book: "It was a dark and stormy night..."

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