THE ELEPHANT AND THE KANGAROO

By T. H. White


(1947) You can't believe a word of it. For instance, our hero is said to be a certain Mr. White, "always the practical Englishman," who chooses to have his workshop (or playroom) in Mrs. O'Callaghan's unspeakable cottage on a farm (or "stinkhole") in Ireland. This Mr. White is trying to halt Mrs. O'Callaghan's prayers long enough to foist on her the blessings of free thought. He is also showing her repulsive mate (who just this year began last year's plowing) how to run the farm on sane modern principles, although he can hardly manage even the simplest parlor tricks.

So a Something somes down the chimley. Mrs. O'Callaghan thinks it might be the Archangel Michael.

Mr. White, of course, is pretty surprised when it turns out that it actually is the Archangel Michael. (Look out. You may forget you can't believe this.) However, the adjustment is easier than he thought. Just a few changes at the top, and the rational outlook remains intact. Besides, the Archangel's proposition is most exciting. There will be another Flood. The O'Callaghans are to build an ark and start the human race afresh. Luckily Mr. White is fond of carpentry.

The Irish couple are quite incapable of grasping the situation, but Mr. White rises to it brilliantly. Even the question of just how the race is to be perpetuated by a bachelor and an over-age couple does not shake his confidence in the angel.

By what absurd triumphant means the ark is built, despite the Irish; exactly how much of civilization shall be preserved; how the deluge overwhelms; whether and wither the ark floats; and how Mrs. O'Callaghan saves all (or at least all that is saved) despite Mr. White's most disastrous ingenuities— these things unfold in due time, and with a high order of exasperation.

Mr. White, who has been loved and slandered for his fancy, has here retaliated. He exerts himself very nastily to enrage all lovers of druids, dryads, and Erin go fey. We fear he has only succeeded in being extremely funny and that flights of banshees sing him to his sleep.

copied from the dust jacket


England Have My Bones: For the Reader of the Works of T. H. White
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Unless otherwise noted, entire contents 1996, J. Moulder and M. Schaefer. All rights reserved.
Revised Saturday, 28-Sep-2002 22:12:05 CDT.