Martin Gardner's Favorite Poetic Parodies, edited by...

Editor's Choice

October 07, 2001|By Michael Pakenham

Martin Gardner's Favorite Poetic Parodies, edited by Martin Gardner (Prometheus, 200 pages, $25).

Martin Gardner is an esteemed national institution -- most familiar to many readers as author for a generation of Scientific American's "Mathematical Games" column, he has churned out more books than can easily be counted. Recently, his The Annotated Alice has added delights to the ever enchanting Lewis Carroll classic. Now comes Gardner with a collection of his favorite parodies of familiar or once-familiar poems. There have been dozens of other volumes devoted to more or less the same task -- some focused on a single poet or even a single poem, others broad in reach. In this latest compilation, Gardner gives 50 original poems, in whole or by a major element, and then one or more parodies. Some are marvelous, some almost as familiar as the originals. There are a few duds -- and Gardner candidly bemoans some gaps, where reprint permissions were not forthcoming. Still, it's a delight, for anyone who likes this sort of thing.

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