A Critic's Meta-Review: 4/5

The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). Published by planksip

Kudos to you, Right Honorable Lord Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton. Not just for having such a glorious name - although, with a name like that, I would imagine filling out forms at the Department of Motor Vehicles would not have been particularly pleasant. On second thought, they probably did not have a Department of Motor Vehicles in nineteenth-century England because they did not have motor vehicles back then. Well, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen did hit the scene towards the tail end of the Victorian era, but this was long after our pal Eddie (I am just going to call him Eddie from here on out, by the way - for brevity’s sake, naturally) had kicked the bucket. Nonetheless, he was a brilliant man. Coined many a phrase - “the almighty dollar,” “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and even the oft-parodied story opener “it was a dark and stormy night” (which has become so infamous that it has inspired an annual contest - the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest - in which a cash reward is granted to the entrant who can craft the worst possible opening sentence to a novel; the contest started was first held in 1982 and is put on by the English Department at San Jose State University).

What is perhaps most impressive about Eddie, though, has nothing to do with his gaudy name or extensive political career. No - what is most impressive about Eddie is the fact that he wrote this entire novel, a written depiction of the events leading up to the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, which effectively decimated the whole city of Pompeii to the point that you can’t even find fossils of the birds that used to sit on trees there (they all got fire roasted like a can of tomatoes [probably not as good with black beans and queso, though]) after looking at a painting.

That’s it.

A painting.

That was all he needed. Now, in all fairness - it is a fantastic painting. I am sure I would probably be able to come up with a few solid pages after looking at it long enough. But a whole book? I doubt it, man. That is a lot of commitment. And you’ve got to think - a lot of historical research had to have gone into this. I mean, it is a work of historical fiction, after all.

Kudos, man. You earned it.

The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). Published by planksip

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