Monday, September 25, 2006

16. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

ISBN 0439272629 - HarperCollins, 2000

This third volume in The Series of Unfortunate Events begins with the Baudelaire children standing on Damocles Dock. Suspended above them, dangling dangerously, is a sword. The Sword of Damocles symbolizes "impending disaster". "This expression alludes to the legend of Damocles, a servile courtier to King Dionysius I of Syracuse. The king, weary of Damocles' obsequious flattery, invited him to a banquet and seated him under a sword hung by a single hair, so as to point out to him the precariousness of his position. The idiom was first recorded in 1747. The same story gave rise to the expression hang by a thread." Source:
This passage about stealing is a fine example of Snicket's "grown-up" humour.
"Stealing, of course, is a crime, and a very impolite thing to do. But like most impolite things, it is excusable under certain circumstances. Stealing is not excusable if, for instance, you are in a museum and you decide that a certain painting would look better in your house, and you simply grab the painting and take it there. But if you were very, very hungry, and had no way of obtaining money, it might be excusable to grab the painting, take it to your house, and eat it."pp 136- 137, The Wide Window.
This volume features Aunt Josephine, the Lachrymose Leeches and Captain Sham.

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