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Old 01-28-2016, 03:45 AM   #1
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Benchley, Robert: Threescore and Seventeen (Collection). v1. 28 Jan 2016

Threescore and Seventeen
Selected Sketches by Robert Benchley (1889-1945)

Contents first published ca. 1921 ~ 1943.
The text of this book is in the public domain in countries where copyright is “Life+70” or less. Due to copyright restrictions, illustrations by Gluyas Williams (1888–1982) have been omitted.

------------------------
Robert Charles Benchley was an American humorist, actor, and drama critic. His main persona, that of a slightly confused, ineffectual, socially awkward bumbler, served in his essays and short films to gain him the sobriquet “the humorist’s humorist.” The character allowed him to comment brilliantly on the world’s absurdities. (—Encyclopedia Britannica)

Benchley's humor influenced and inspired many humorists and filmmakers, among them E. B. White, James Thurber, S. J. Perelman, Horace Digby, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and Dave Barry.

Benchley is best remembered for his contributions to periodicals such as Life, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker. Collections of these essays and articles stand today as tribute to his brilliance.

Excerpt: Word Torture
Spoiler:
In his column a short time ago Mr. O. O. Mclntyre asked who could tell, without looking it up, the present tense of the verb of which “wrought” is the past participle. That was, let us say, of a Thursday. Today my last fingernail went.

At first I thought that it was so easy that I passed it by. But, somewhere in the back of that shaggy-maned head of mine, a mischievous little voice said, “All right – what is it?”

“What is what?” I asked, stalling.

“You know very well what the question was. What is the present tense of the verb from which the word ‘wrought’ comes?”

I started out with a rush. “I wright” I fairly screamed. Then, a little lower, “I wrught.” Then, very low, “I wrouft.” Then silence.

From that day until now I have been muttering to myself, “I wright – I wraft – I wronjst. You wruft – he wragst – we wrinjsen.” I’ll be darned if I’ll look it up, and it looks now as if I’ll be incarcerated before I get it.

People hear me murmuring and ask me what I am saying.

“I wrujhst,” is all that I can say in reply.

“I know,” they say, “but what were you saying just now?”

“I wringst.”

This gets me nowhere.

While I am working on it, however, and just before the boys come to get me to take me to the laughing academy, I will ask Mr. Mclntyre if he can help me out on something that has almost the same possibilities for brain seepage. And no fair looking this up, either.

What is a man who lives in Flanders and speaks Flemish? A Flem? A Flan? A Floom? (This is a lot easier than “wrought,” but it may take attention away from me while I am writhing on the floor.) And, when you think you have got it the easy way, remember there is another name for him, too, one that rhymes with “balloon.” I finally looked that one up.

At present I’m working on “wrought.”

-----------------------
My own compilation; text was obtained from ebooks found at Gutenberg Canada, fadedpage.com; and archive.org. Punctuation, italics, and diacritics have been formatted. Chapter-end links provide access to table of contents and title index. Embedded font for titling.

Have a fun read!
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