Every week for the last five years, award-winning cartoonist and writer Martin Rowson has been telling the story of World Literature in The Independent on Sunday. In limericks. With scrupulous regard to the rigours of the limerick form, Rowson has endeavoured to encapsulate humankind’s fascination with the written word in all its forms, whether poetry, drama or prose – as a series of bad jokes, cheap puns, strained scansion, excruciatingly contrived rhymes and pure filth. Now collected together for the first time, The Limerickiad: Volume 1 takes us from the Sumerian classic Gilgamesh to the Complete Works of Shakespeare, with both verse and illustration displaying Rowson’s reverence for the original texts. The Limerickiad promises to do for Literature what 1066 and All That did for History.
Following the success of The Limerickiad volume I, Martin Rowson continues to lower the tone by reducing literary classics to a series of terrible limericks. Mixing Low Comedy and High Seriousness, awful puns and dodgy rhymes, The Limerickiad volume II takes the story forward from John Donne to Jane Austen. Along the way he takes the piss out of Jacobean Tragedy, mangles all XII books of Paradise Lost and hangs out with some like-minded Augustan satirists before ridiculing the entire European Romantic movement.
Every week since 2006, the award-winning cartoonist and writer Martin Rowson has been making a fool of himself in The Independent on Sunday by reducing the work of some of the world’s best-loved writers to a series of puerile and filthy limericks. Following the success of the first two volumes of The Limerickad (from Gilgamesh to Jane Austen) The Limerickiad volume III lays waste to the literary greats of the nineteenth-century. Rowson mangles Melville, puts the boot into the Brontёs and defaces the complete works of Dickens. He even finds time to write a limerick in homage to its inventor (‘When a runcible fellow called Lear…’).