The Bul­wer Pur­ple Prose Project - Quirky Lit­er­ary Con­test in­vites En­tries

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS -

Anew lit­er­ary con­test has seen the dark of night – “a dark and stormy night!” It’s the Bul­wer Pur­ple Prose Project.

Par­tic­i­pants are in­vited to sub­mit just one sen­tence – the open­ing sen­tence to the worst novel ever. En­tries are due be­tween now and Jan­uary 15, 2013.

The project is named af­ter Ed­ward Ge­orge Earle Lyt­ton Bul­wer-Lyt­ton. So is the tiny vil­lage of Bul­wer, about 15 kilo­me­tres east of Len­noxville.The story is that Lord Bul­wer stopped at the Wil­liams Cor­ner train sta­tion in the mid 1800s. The vil­lagers promptly re-bap­tised their busy in­ter­sec­tion af­ter him.

In those days, Lord Bul­wer was a Bri­tish politi­cian, Sec­re­tary of State for the Colonies, and also an im­mensely pop­u­lar nov­el­ist. He made a for­tune writ­ing penny nov­els, says Wikipedia. In 1830, he au­thored the fa­mous line, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Those words be­gan the open­ing sen­tence of his novel, Paul Clif­ford.

Here’s Lord Bul­wer’s com­plete sen­tence – all 58 words of it:

“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.”

– Ed­ward Ge­orge Earle Lyt­ton Bul­wer-Lyt­ton, in Paul Clif­ford (1830).

“Lord Bul­wer, our Prince of Pur­ple Prose, is renowned for his fe­lic­i­tous turns of phrase,” laughed Rachel Gar­ber. She’s one of the three or­ga­niz­ers of the con­test, along with Michelle Lepitre and Rev. Wanda Dil­l­abough. The con­test’s web­site lists a few other fa­mous phrases by Lord Bul­wer. “The pen is might­ier than the sword,” for ex­am­ple. Or, “Tal­ent does what it can: Ge­nius does what it must.”

Vis­i­tors to the site will also see the con­test rules – they’re short and sweet – and how to par­tic­i­pate. The site is at http://bul­w­er­pur­pleprose.word- press.com/ Each en­try should con­sist of only one sen­tence, prefer­ably less than 60 words long. Any­one is wel­come to par­tic­i­pate. There is no par­tic­i­pa­tion fee.

“As en­tries come in, they will be posted on the site,” said Gar­ber, “but on an anony­mous ba­sis. Sub­mis­sions should be sent to Bul­w­erPPP@gmail.com. Then a jury of three bards will choose the pur­plest of the pur­ple prose.”

Awards will be a pit­tance,

prom­ise the or­ga­niz­ers. The win­ners will be hon­oured at a fes­tive coun­try sup­per at the Bul­wer Com­mu­nity Cen­tre on Satur­day, Fe­bru­ary 2, 2013 – a dark night, prefer­ably not stormy! Pro­ceeds of the din­ner will go to sup­port the Bul­wer Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

“We like this project very much! I read some of the ex­am­ples at our board meet­ing, and they were bent over laugh­ing!” said Peggy Roy, trea­surer of the Cen­tre.

The or­ga­niz­ers grate­fully ac­knowl­edge the Bul­wer PPP’s debt to the grand­daddy of all Lord Bul­wer fic­tion con­tests (www.bul­wer-lyt­ton.com). The Bul­wer-Lyt­ton Fic­tion Con­test is based in the English De­part­ment at San Jose State Univer­sity, and has been go­ing strong since 1982. “Our only claim to orig­i­nal­ity is our very own Bul­wer, Que­bec, which, we be­lieve, con­fers on the Bul­wer PPP a spe­cial le­git­i­macy,” said Gar­ber.

Photo Na­tional Por­trait Gallery, Lon­don

Paint­ing of Lord Bul­wer by Henry Wil­liam Pick­ers­gill. Lord Bul­wer is the mov­ing spirit be­hind a new thumb-in-cheek lit­er­ary con­test, the Bul­wer Pur­ple Prose Project.

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