Thursday, February 17, 2011

Alternative Benchley Editions

To this inquiry:
In my quest to fill the gaps in in Benchley collection, I recently purchased a copy of Around the World Backwards and Sideways, published in Britain in 1952. Is this book the same as No Poems (a rare beast among Benchley volumes, costing roughly as much as the alternator that just failed on our Toyota)? The same British publisher (Dobson) had two other titles that were new to me: One Moment Please and The Bedside Manner.

The essays of Around the World are "The Mystery of the Poisoned Kipper," "How the Doggie Goes," "Swat the Tsk-Tsk Midge," "A Trip to Spirit Land," "'Abandon Ship,'" "First--Catch Your Criminal," "Growing Old with Football," "Happy Childhood Tales," "Aubergine's Way," "Yarns of an Insurance Man," "'Here You Are--Taxi!'" "Announcing a New Vitamin," "The Eel-Snooper," "The Noon Telephone Operator," "Fall In!" "'Could You Tell Me. . .?" "I Spy Backgammon," "Hiccoughing Makes Us Fat," "Hunt-the-Cook," "Ill Will towards Men," "A Little Sermon on Success," "Mind's Eye Trouble," "Indian Fakirs Exposed," "The Big Gobi Desert Find," "The Murder without Interest," "More Work Ahead," "The King and the Old Man," "Around the World with the Gypsy Jockey," "All Sandy," "What We Missed," "The Lost Continent of Mee," and "Matinees--Wednesdays and Saturdays."

If this book is indeed the British edition of No Poems, then I have only to find From Bed to Worse to have a complete set of Benchley. (In addition to the two other British anomalies, that is.) If not, then--I guess that alternator will have to wait.

An officer of the Robert Benchley Society responded:
I know the book you recently acquired. I have it myself. It is a London edition of an abridgement of "No Poems, or Around the World Backwards and Sideways". It has 32 of the 45 essays that appeared in the original American version. Here's the list of contents of "No Poems" with an (*) next to the one which appear in the London edition.

How I Create
*The Mystery of the Poisoned Kipper
*How Doggie Goes
*Swat the Tsk-Tsk Midge
The Helping Hand
*A Trip to Spirit Land
*"Abandon Ship"
*First-Catch Your Criminal
*Growing Old With Football
Inherent Vice: Express Paid
*Happy Childhood Tales
The Railroad Problem
Botany Exam
Sporting Life in America--Following the Porter
*Aubergine's Way
*Yarns of an Insurance Man
*"Here You Are - Taxi!"
*Announcing a New Vitamin
The Truth About Thunderstorms
*The Eel-Snooper
*The Noon Telephone Operator
Back in Line
*Fall In!
*"Could You Tell Me . . .?"
Can We Believe Our Eyes?
The Wreck of the Sunday Paper
*"I Spy Backgammon"
*Hiccoughing Makes Us Fat
How to Understand Music
*Ill Will Toward Men
*A Little Sermon on Success
*Mind's Eye Trouble
*Indian Fakirs Exposed
*The Big Gobi Desert Find
Little Noise Abatement
*The Murder Without Interest
*More Work Ahead
*The King and the Old Man
*Around the World with the Gypsy Jockey
*All Sandy
*What We Missed
*The Lost Continent of Mee
The Real Public Enemies
*Matinees--Wednesdays and Saturdays

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Robert Benchley Society

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