While I was griping about Fifty Shades of Grime Grey to my father a few weeks back, he mentioned that I might enjoy a Monty Python skit called Novel Writing, which chronicles Thomas Hardy writing The Return of the Native in standard Pythonesque style- that is to say with complete insanity. I found the idea of broadcasting the writing process amusing, hence these skits which I’m hoping will appear every Friday. These posts will be very much based on and inspired by the skit, so I’d recommend listening to it- it can be found here. Enjoy!
Broadcaster: And welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, as we take you to the Greek fields on this very lovely morning to watch the poet Homer compose his epic masterpiece, The Iliad. What do you think we have to look forward to today, Dennis?
Dennis: Well, he’ll certainly have to invoke the gods in some way or another, and I don’t think any of us would want to see a repeat of the last time when Athena nearly skewered him for accidentally calling her “the green-eyed goddess” in one of his early drafts. We’re all hoping it was just a slip of the tongue, but if he makes a habit of slips like that, he’ll have the whole Pantheon after him, which won’t bode well for his writing progress.
Broadcaster: Thank you, Dennis. Now let’s see what we have here! Homer is- well, he’s not doing much of anything really, just staring off into space. We’re certain his mind’s eye is seeing great battles and wars, filled with flames, swords, and bloodshed, but we don’t know since he hasn’t actually said anything about those battles yet. He’s left off with preparing us for a renewed attack on the great city of Troy, so we’re predicting plenty of blood and broken skulls, perhaps a few divine quarrels- and wait! What’s this? He’s…
He’s listing every ship and every battalion and every commander complete with detailed descriptions of their ancestry! Oh dear, the crowd’s not pleased with this development at all. But they all know that our poet here can write an action scene to make Ares himself proud, so they’ll probably indulge him for a few paragraphs.
But now it’s been a few pages and Homer still hasn’t finished listing all the ships and the ancestry of the captains! The crowd is getting increasingly angry!
Ladies and gentlemen, if Homer doesn’t give us a bloodbath to flood the Styx, he’s going to have a riot on his hands. The referees have already had to escort an enraged spectator for attempting to beat the man’s head in with a polished shield that is, incidentally, a very good replica of the one Achilles was given in compensation for his temper tantrum earlier in the story, back when things were happening.
Wait a minute, ladies and gentlemen, what do we have here? Homer has leaped to his feet and is declaiming loudly and eloquently with a voice to reach Mount Olympus! He’s describing one of the Greeks now- it appears to be Menelaus and the crowd has fallen silent! They don’t appear quite disposed to forgive him yet, but everyone loves to see a scorned husband with the means to crush his rivals to a bloody pulp.
And now Homer has just thrown a huge twist into the scene! Paris, renowned homewrecker of the Trojan kingdoms, is actually going to face Menelaus, the husband of the woman Paris seduced, in battle! The crowd is on its feet now, screaming and cheering! What a brilliant move by Homer, ladies and gentlemen- just when he had the audience thinking he’d lost the point of his story altogether, he’s gone and brought the two main rivals head to head several books before expected!
Wait a moment- Homer’s just revealed that it was all a false hope! One of the goddesses has swooped in to save Paris from having his lovely nose broken. The crowd is wild with outrage and clamoring to know what happens next as Homer leaves the field with a very confident grin. After rousing the crowd like that, he’ll probably be able to get them to return for the next few books of The Iliad, though it remains to seen if he’ll be able to keep readers’ attention to the end of his epic story that goes on for more books than one would think possible for a story about the aftermath of an adulterous affair.
Thank you for tuning in, and hopefully we will see you next week for our broadcast of Fyodor Dostoyevsky as he writes Notes From Underground. It should be a very interesting episode, as that story is essentially a glorified list of complaints, but if anyone can make something of it, it should be Fyodor, who has a marvelous track record with these sorts of things. We’ll see you next time, ladies and gentlemen! And now back to the studio.
Disclaimer: Novel Writing is not mine in any way shape or form, and this is all inspired by that bit of Python brilliance. It’s purely for fun.