T.S. Eliot,
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats,
illustrated by Edward Gorey
(1939; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)

A lot of you already know the words, even if you don't realize it. A musical adaptation of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, first published by T.S. Eliot in 1939, became one of Broadway's longest-running productions as Cats.

But first, it was a collection of poems, and many of the delightful verses didn't make it into the musical score. The poems are fun, quite lyrical and in no small way eccentric. Eliot's feline characters come to life, dancing across the pages with all of his intended mischief, aloofness, ferocity and more.

Read about the adventures of Growltiger, Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, old Deuteronomy, Mr. Mistoffeles, Macavity and more. And don't forget to learn the mystery of the naming of cats.

The current edition in publication was enhanced, first in 1982, with illustrations by the famed Edward Gorey. His simple black-and-white ink drawings conjure an appropriate air of Victorian England, and his cats smile, snarl, bounce and strut their way into the reader's imagination.

Cat lovers, poetry buffs and Broadway enthusiasts all have good reason to enjoy this book. And readers who are usually intimidated by poetry may well find themselves enjoying Eliot's and Gorey's feline shenanigans.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 21 September 2002

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