The Bulwer Purple Prose Project - Quirky Literary Contest invites Entries
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.
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.