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4.9 out of 5 stars
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on 8 December 2000
More gothic than Mervyn Peake, more cynical than George Orwell, more English than Ian Fleming and much, much funnier than Noel Coward.
The setting is an English boys' school in the early 1950s. Molesworth introduces us to his teachers, his family, his "grate friend" Peason, and his views on being a "young Elizabethan" in the "atommic age". Forget about "Lord Of The Flies". Molesworth and his cohorts are the most convincing schoolboys in fiction; by turns cynical, daydreaming, snobbish or barbaric but always possessed with a hysterical, surreal sense of humour. This is a book you will never regret buying - in fact, having read it, you will be pressing copies on your friends like a newly converted Hare Krisha.
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on 23 December 1999
Set in the 50's, Nigel Molesworth is a schoolboy at a minor public school in the wilds of the English countryside. You'd think it would be aimed at kids - but, as any fule kno, it's for the grownups. When I first bought this book in 1991 I ignored the girlfriend I was visiting for six hours straight while I read it cover to cover, occasionally exploding on the sofa in abject hysterics. I read it again on the train back to London. I've had to buy it again since then because I wore my original copy out - the spine collapsed and the pages fell out. Bluntly - this book it utterly fantastic, blindingly hilarious and it's less than a tenner. If they made Nigel Molesworth T-shirts I'd buy one of those too. And the desk diary, the calendar, the screensaver... Buy this book now. :o)
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on 12 April 2002
this book is pretty much the world through the eyes of a cynic. The fact that the cynic happens to be a schoolboy, thoroughly fed up with Pythagoras (a bore), masters (weeds), and his fellow sufferers at school (variously clots, weedstruck wets, cads, oiks, and sneeks), enables us all to understand exactly what he is talking about. Even if you can not profess to ever having met sigismund the mad maths master.
The book, with all it's ravings on skool, Xmas, and skool sossages is hilarious and clever. The illustrations by Ronald Searle are excellent ( do the drawings compliment the writing or is it the other way round?), and I would recommend this to anyone whose sense of humour extends further than Friends. My favourite part, it must be said, is the spelling...
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on 13 October 2000
The 4 Molesworth books published together in this volume are seminal in the history of education and indeed of literature, and it's a great shame that Geoffrey Willans died at the untimely age of 47. These books are a total one-off, and perfectly capture the anarchic spirit (and lack of learning, and streetwiseness) of the average pre-pubescent schoolboy - no romantic seat of learning, this St. Custard's place.
I made my first acquaintance with Molesworth when I was about the same age as him, and the resonances with my own school experience still strike me now, over 40 years later. Wonderful stuff, hysterically funny and totally without any mawkish sentiment. Buy it! Buy several copies and give them to your friends and family! They'll love you for it.
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on 5 December 2008
As any fule kno this is clasic. Full of topp writing and insiteful comment about skool and the iniquities of life (chiz moan) it stand the test of time like other grate works (see milton shakespeer dikens and other weeds etc etc). There hav been many who hav seen wisdom in the words of nigel as he carefully discuss 'kanes i hav known', reveal the molesworth-peason lines machine (runs off a hundred in one minit), explain life at st custards and introduce his frends and some sissies like fotherington-tomas who skip like a gurl and is wet. An essential addition to the bookshelf of anyone who went to a skool, had to deal with beaks, oiks, goodie goodies and playing criket in the rane against skools like Porridge Court etc etc. It is the uggly truth.
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on 4 January 2013
Oh God don't do what I just did and buy this book because you are in bed with a heavy cold. Am now suffering from emphysema and thinking of going into A&E. It was the botany walk that did it. "Now. Wot have we? A dead bird, peason? i don't think that would find its place in the nature museum it is so very dead."
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on 7 December 2011
I read Molesworth years ago when a schoolboy myself and have since had and lost/lent (and never got back!!!) the various volumes.

This is a real classic though; the four books of Molesworthiana collected together and presented to the world anew, so that another generation can reap the benefit of his wisdom.

The text made me howl with laughter - and it still does - and the masterly drawings compliment the written word beautifully. The characters, from Grabber to the ever optimistic Fotherington Thomas...."Hullo birds, hullo sky",captivate and enchant and, for me, evoke a time and an England which has gone forever.

Even through the comical cynicism, you can still feel the hope and excitement that a new Elizabethan age was expected to bring.

Buy it now and treasure it forever. If you don't well, chiz chiz chiz (as any fule no!!)
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on 22 January 2002
I first red The Compleet Molesworth at age 16, an fell in luv with it after the first paige. The carikters are savijly accurite, the dialogg superb and the speling unsurpast. N. Molesworth's outlook on life as an early 20th century public skoolboy shows just how little the world has changed in essence since then. It's funnie too.
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I first read Molesworth as a child, and loved him. I read all the books and destroyed them through reading them too often. I have since bought them all again and continue to read them as an adult and exhort all my friends to read them too.
Molesworth is a schoolboy in the 1950's public school system and these are his diaries and grate thoughts on life. I grew up in the seventies, and so this was dated even then, but it doesn't matter. The comedy is evergreen, the words hilarious and the pictures perfect.
Molesworth is cynical, world weary and anti authoritarian to a delightful degree. His spelling is dreadful, and this is one of the best things about the book, in my opinion. His thoughts on peotry, particularly his rendition of "The Charge of The Light Brigade" is up there with anything P.G. Wodehouse has ever written, and he is a comedy genius. An absolute must buy for anyone with a sense of humour anywhere.
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VINE VOICEon 21 May 2014
I first encountered the world of Nigel Molesworth as a young boy and have revisited it many times since. The humour grows with the age of the reader, who finds more than just skoolboy humour when re-reading the books as an adult. Discovering (only quite recently in one of Stephen Fry's books) that Gabbitas & Thring are real, for instance, almost made fall off the sofa in delight.

This Penguin Modern Classic edition is superb value on Kindle, and includes a foreword by Philip Hensher which serves as an excellent introduction, especially for those who never attended an old-fashioned prep school. I actually did, and while the books obviously exaggerate for comedy, they are not all that far off the mark. My maths master, for instance, hem-hem...

Hensher also speculates entertainingly on how some of the characters might be as adults, so the foreword is good fun even for the already-converted fan.

The combination of Willans & Searle is a perfect match. One of those books that I never want to be without ever again. Why Molesworth 2's seminal rendition of 'Fairy Bells' is not available as an MP3 download, however, is a black mark against Amazon.
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