There are good writers, there are bad writers, and then there are writers so bad that awards are named for them. Such is the case of Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton. Known for such lines as “the pen is mightier than the sword” and “It was a dark and stormy night” (sorry Snoopy),
Although he was popular in his day, Bulwer-Lytton’s prose strikes many contemporary readers as anachronistic and overly embellished, though at least one of his works (The Last Days of Pompeii) is still regularly read.
His name lives on in the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which contestants have to supply the openings of terrible (imaginary) novels, inspired by his novel Paul Clifford, which opens with the famous words:
“It was a dark and stormy night”
or to give the sentence in its full glory:
“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
Entrants in the contest seek to capture the rapid changes in point of view, the florid language, and the atmosphere of the full sentence.
So here is one of his last pieces of writing, a story about Atlantis. Given the 1871 date it is one of the earliest examples of Science Fiction writing. You have been warned.
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