Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Last Days of Pompeii

Karl Brullov - The Last Day of Pompeii - Google Art Project.jpg
Artist: Karl Briullov

Most interesting and surprising discoveries are made by pure chance.  The discovery may something as small as the remote control under a newspaper, as a house key in the laundry basket. 

There was a discovery of monument size here, or so we thought.  One of my grandmother’s book given to me (in 1972) turned out to more interesting than originally thought:  The Last Days of Pompeii by Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton.

Source: in his later life

My husband was delighted upon seeing that the book, published in 1884, was in mint conditionWe had just seen “Pompeii” at the theater---predictable plot, predictable ending.  To ease his excitement over the book’s possible value, Wikipedia® was accessed and Sir Bulwer-Lytton was there!!

Value of the 1884 edition mass printed book:  about $5.00, despite its age.

What discovery, you may ask.  Well, I’ll tell you.

Sir Edward B-L was an intelligent man who achieved many honorary titles and wrote many very popular books in the mid-1800s.  This made him wealthy and respected.

Considering some unwise romantic choices, his personal life was always in an uproar.  Even so, The Right Honorable Lord Lytton, PC is responsible for some amazing phrases that follow/haunt all writers who wish to avoid clichés.

Recognize these:

“…the great unwashed…”  
“The pen is mightier than the sword…” 
“…pursuit of the almighty dollar….” 
And, of course, 
“…It was a dark and stormy night…”

In honor of such a writer, there is a contest: The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which participants create the most terrible opening sentences for imaginary novels.

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents---except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."  Bulwer-Lytton

While my copy of The Last Days of Pompeii is not a great discovery, the man Bulwer-Lytton surely is.


  1. It's such an awesome feeling to discover a book like this isn't it??

    1. It is a tome, in all respects. The dust leaps from each word.

  2. P.S. I can't wait to see what you do with Delores' Word for Wednesday today!

  3. Damn, only 5 bucks. haha but was a great discovery to find him indeed

    1. In some ways, he will never be forgotten.

  4. The dark and stormy night contest has't crossed my mind in years. Sometimes lists of dark and stormy opening lines come up. I may have to google and laugh over some again.

    1. It occurs every year, maybe around the anniversary of Poe's death?

  5. Replies
    1. Have you counted the number of words he put into that paragraph??? 59 stinkin' words!

  6. A man who so many people have plagiarised...
    And I too am really looking forward to see what springs from your mind in answer to Delores' words this week.

  7. ‘except at occasional intervals’, priceless after the first few words. I love hamming it up. Deliberately.

  8. I'm of the opinion that "it was a dark and stormy night", is rather over used and have determined never to use it as a beginning. Possibly somewhere else in a story, if a character is quoting from something.


Go won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!