Consider the parody of Gertrude Stein in this anthology. Its author could scarcely be more alien to both the literary milieu and the cultural theories of his victim. He is Ronald Knox, a sharp conservative satirist, a famous English stylist, the subject of an admiring biography by Evelyn Waugh, and the author of an admired Catholic translation of the Bible. Would Knox have known of the role that marijuana played in generating Stein’s distinctively meaningless prose? It’s doubtful. Yet here is his review of Stein’s 1927 essay “Composition as Explanation”:
And in this part of the book all the parts of speech get mixed up anyhow as if she had been taking a lesson in typewriting. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog lazy dog lazy fox the quick jumps jumps brown. There is only one sentence in this part which is English, it says toasted susie is my ice cream, and that is not sense, is it? So awfully not sense. I suppose she must either think it looks pretty or think it sounds pretty when you read it but it doesn’t it doesn’t either it really doesn’t. . . . I think she must do it by taking hashish. Has she has his hashish? Hashish and haberdashers. Dash her hashish.
This is so precise an imitation of Stein’s Composition (and so shrewd an Explanation of it) that the grammar check has been strongly resisting the above quotation.
Omissions and disappointments are, of course, inseparable from the enterprise of anthology. Personally I would have liked something from the Peter Simple column in the Daily Telegraph (written by the late Michael Wharton), maybe his “Hemingway in Bournemouth,” in which the wheelchair-bound novelist, recuperating from a wartime injury in a then-genteel seaside town on England’s south coast, gets into a fight with another wheelchair-bound veteran: “He fought good. But I fought gooder. I guess the whole goddamn town was at the funeral.” But it would be ungrateful to complain about the lack of an occasional appetizer at such a generous feast.