|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 condition. We 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.
“…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.