Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Short Review: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Eliot

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Eliot, puts a whole new spin on Eliot's poetry (in my opinion).  For a man who's perhaps best known for writing poetry such as "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (meh) or "The Wasteland" (blech), Old Possum's Book of Practical Books is surprisingly easy to grasp and pleasant to read, perhaps because he was writing for children.  I must say I would rather read "The Naming of Cats" than "The Wasteland" any day.  (Did I just lose credibility in the eyes of the world?  Or was that sound T.S. Eliot turning over in his grave in horror?)

Whether or not it was a good idea for Andrew Lloyd Webber to turn the poems into one of the longest-running Broadway musicals of all time--Cats--is another issue all together.  Suffice it to say that, as a fan of musicals, I feel that Cats is distinctly lacking a plot and is therefore quite boring... but apparently millions and millions of people disagree with me.

(By the way, the reason this all came up is that I recently adopted a black-and-white cat whose coat pattern is known as "Tuxedo" in the US and "Jellicle" in the UK... and, as you've probably guessed, "Jellicle" is a term that was coined by Eliot: "The name jellicle comes from a previously unpublished poem by Eliot entitled 'Pollicle Dogs and Jellicle Cats', where jellicle cats is a corruption of dear little cats and pollicle dogs of poor little dogs" (wikipedia).)

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