As always this companion instructs through laughter (Contemporary Review
Buy the book. (The Beachcomber, Daily Express
From the Publisher
Ned Sherrin, the editor of the second edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, describes some of the pleasures and pains of compilation: Among welcome new arrivals to the Dictionary are Dick Vosburgh ('I'm aghast! if there ever was one') and David Mamet ('They say the definition of ambivalence is watching your mother-in-law drive over a cliff in your new Cadillac'). Earlier periods also make fresh contributions, as with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's view of Queen Caroline and her maids of honour dressed in pink:
Superior to her waiting nymphs,
As lobster to attendant shrimps.
Two further welcome additions are Mary Anne Disraeli's assessment of her husband ('I wish you could only see Dizzy in his bath, then you would know what a white skin is') and Elsie Mendl on her dislike of soup:'I do not believe in building a meal on a lake.'
It is not only a fisherman who laments the one that got away. One quotation found just too late was Peter Nichols' comment on Harold Hobson's assessment of Tom Stoppard: 'Last time Hobson compared him with Shakespeare. This time he puts him in the scales with God and finds the older man a bit lightweight.' And only as the Dictionary goes to press have I remembered that in Saki's story Arlington Stringham's jokes were filched (on Clovis's evidence) from Lady Isabel 'who slept in a hammock and understood Yeats's poems.' New quotations from past and present include Julie Walters on alcohol ('I have a rare intolerance to herbs which means I can only drink fermented liquids, such as gin'); Quentin Crisp on himself in youth ('I was very plain. My rich mouse hair was straight but my teeth were not'); Ralph Waldo Emerson on children ('There never was a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get asleep'); Alfred Hitchcock on cinema ('If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach'); Robin Williams on cricket ('basically baseball on valium'); a formidable threat by an overdrawn customer to his bank ('Any further letters and I shall remove my overdraft'); Somerset Maugham's advice on how to enjoy English food ('All you have to do is eat breakfast three times a day'), and Philip Sassoon's description of a dish of lobster Newburg ('Like a purée of white kid gloves'); Arthur Smith's account of how he tries to keep fit ('I've got these parallel bars at home. I run at them and try to buy a drink from both of them'); Gore Vidal's response to the critic who had described his novel on Lincoln as 'meretricious' ('Really? Well, meretricious and a happy New Year to you too!'); Clarissa Dickson Wright on men ('The feminist movement seems to have beaten the manners out of men, but I didn't see them put up a lot of resistance'); Disraeli's suave thanks to the author who had presented him with an unwelcome book ('I shall lose!
no time in reading it'); in the sitcom Men Behaving Badly, Dorothy's summing up of Gary's prowess as a lover , as reported by his friend Dermot ('like sleeping with a badly-informed labrador'); and a Broadway producer's resolve after a play about Napoleon had failed ('Never, never, will I do another play where a guy writes with a feather.').
There are over 40 new themes, including Cookery ('For 30 years she served nothing but leftovers. The original meal was never found' - Tracey Ullman on her mother's cooking); Football ('The natural state of the football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score' - Nick Hornby), Presidents ('The battle for the mind of Ronald Reagan was like the trench warfare of World War I. Never have so many fought so hard for such barren terrain' - Peggy Noonan), and Tennis ('All gong and no dinner...we just wish Anna would finally win something aside from hearts' - a weary commentator on Anna Kournikova).
This dazzlingly entertaining collection is a welcome addition to the Oxford family of Quotations dictionaries.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.