Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Complete Cynic

The Complete Cynic: Being Bunches of Wisdom Culled from the Calendars of Olive Herford, Ethel Watts Mumford, Addison Mizner. San Francisco, Calif. : P. Elder & Co., 1910.

The Dial a Semi-Monthly Journal of Literary Criticism, Discussion and Information, Chicago, December 16, 1910 calls it “a mirth-provoking collection of distorted proverbs with appropriate illustrations and decorations.”

When an author and a famous resort architect meet in Waikiki, there is no telling what may happen. From The Many Mizners (Addison Mizner, Sears Publishing, 1932): “One day I twisted an old adage to fit the time, and Ethel came back with a quotation from Oliver Herford. We began twisting all the old saws and bringing them up-to-date. We got 365 together and sent them to Elder & Shepard in San Francisco to be printed for our Christmas presents. Elder wrote back and asked us if he could publish it for sale, with a few cuts.” The result was the clever and cheeky The Cynic’s Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1903, thrown together on a whim by Ethel Watts Mumford (the author) and Addison Mizner (the architect) with some added (and unintentional) help from writer, artist, and illustrator Oliver Herford. It became a smash hit and was reincarnated several times over. The Complete Cynic is a fully developed book based on the wit of the original calendar.

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