Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

James Williams and Matthew Bevis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198708568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198708568.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 May 2020

Fragments Out of Place

Fragments Out of Place

Homology and the Logic of Nonsense in Edward Lear

(p.183) 8 Fragments Out of Place
Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry

Anna Henchman

Oxford University Press

This chapter places Lear’s manipulation of bodies and words in the context of comparative anatomy and evolutionary theories. Rearranged body parts, beheading, and other forms of bodily distortion appear throughout Edward Lear’s nonsense verse. ‘Elastic’ bodies are squeezed, broken, dissolved, and rolled up tight. In ‘The Polly and the Pusseybite’, Lear rearranges the parts of parrot, cat, and man, but retains what Richard Owen first defined as a ‘homologous’ relationship in 1843. Arms go where wings used to; heads replace heads. Homologous parts were crucial to evolutionary theories, and Lear’s own acute awareness of relations–between parts and wholes, claw and hand, individual and species–grows out of his own biological illustrations. The chapter links words and organisms as products of evolution that can be broken into parts and yet function as individual units that are inseparable from the larger systems of which they are a part.

Keywords:   Edward Lear, homology, nonsense, evolution, body parts, biological illustration

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .