Talk:Literary nonsense

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Edith Sitwell?[edit]

Erm, isn't the absence of Edith Sitwell from the author list a somewhat glaring omission? Unless of course we're only considering the more 'lighthearted' or obviously comedic examples of the genre? I suppose it could be argued that Sitwell's work is too 'serious' to qualify, if so. HippyGumbo (talk) 02:55, 22 October 2017 (UTC)

I don't believe any critics of nonsense talk about her. Are there particular texts you think qualify her? Pnotla (talk) 17:43, 6 November 2017 (UTC)

Syd Barrett?[edit]

Are the lyrics of songs written by Syd Barrett examples of literary nonsense? If not, why? There is an archive of his song lyrics on the net.

A good question... psychedelia can sometimes cross over into the realm of nonsense. Much of Barrett makes sense, but some of the songs do have some of the characteristics of nonsense. Yet, I'd say that, often, these don't make enough sense, or have a solid balance, to be considered good nonsense (of course, this is quite subjective!). Good nonsense needs a strong backbone of sense to balance out the non-sense aspects. Of course, in music there is a little more play, artistically, since the music itself is a kind of structure that rests on the "sense" side of the equation. I like Barrett's tunes and appreciate the ambiguity, yet intellectually I'm left wanting. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pnotla (talkcontribs) 14:56, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

A very good question. It depends where you want to draw a line, I suppose. If we include Barrett do we also include 'second wave' musicians of a similar persuasion such as Robyn Hitchcock? And where does John Lennon fit into the equation, as technically he is a published author? I have included Vivian Stanshall in the author list as, although primarily remembered now as part of a musical group, he was also a humourist in the same vein as Eric Idle, and also a published author.HippyGumbo (talk) 02:36, 22 October 2017 (UTC)

Page needs work[edit]

As of now, this page needs quite a bit of work. I have begun the process recently. I also have added links from quite a few other sites (nonsense writers, in particular). The page for "nonsense verse" had been used in the past for issues of genre, but I'm trying to establish this one, literary nonsense, as the genre label. It is the accepted label in the field of literature and, importantly, more accurate, since much nonsense is not written as verse. Many people still say "nonsense verse" in common parlance, but this term is misleading. Pnotla 14:38, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Also this page seems like it was originally some one's undergraduate essay. This page needs major revisions. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:37, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Lewis Carroll[edit]

Isn't Lewis Carroll best know for "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?" I don't know very many people who aren't aware of it, in contrast to "The Jabberwocky," which is delightful, but largely forgotten. Sideburnstate 19:55, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, Carroll is probably known best for "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," but Jabberwocky is very far from forgotten.

I'll fix that sentence, then... but the rest of the article still needs a lot of work. The introduction reads more like a high schooler's English class assignment than an encyclopedia entry.

Origins of Nonsense literature is from the 17th Century, chronicled in detail in the following text: Malcom, Noel. The Origins of English Nonsense. Hammersmith, London: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. Print

Defines nonsense literature by its use of Impossibilia, in particular three methods: Utopia (a place where all is well), Dystopia (the overturning of natural order to forecast the impending doom of humanity), and Hyperbolic (exaggeration of emphasis, dramatisation of impossibilty). Nonsense can also be defined by the defiance of physical and logical possibility, although the difference between the two is subtle. For example, physical contradictions would be midnight in the middle of the day and logical can be exemplified by a 'dumb' man speaking.

Other valuable references: Colley, Ann C. Edward Lear and the Critics. Columbia, USA: Camden House, Inc. 1993 Sewell, Elizabeth. The Field of Nonsense. London: Norwood Publications, 1976. Saltman, Judith. The Riverside Anthology of Children's Literature Sixth edition. Boston USA: Houghton Mufflin Company, 1985. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:46, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Edward Lear[edit]

Edward Lear is considered by many to be the father of modern nonsense writing.

Lead needs lots of work[edit]

The lead is really bad. Full of specific details that should go elsewhere, lots of hard to comprehend prose, and a general tone that seems editorial. Please take a hack at it :) Scott Ritchie 07:47, 13 September 2007 (UTC)


Yes--it does need work. I worked on it a bit today and will continue to add and refine as time allows! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pnotla (talkcontribs) 05:07, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Ack! I made major changes today but forgot to do it while signed in... sorry about that.


Ha ha... someone made the joke about Marx being a storyteller and a "nonsense" writer. Amusing, but I had to take it down... sorry, jokester! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pnotla (talkcontribs) 15:08, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Margaret Mahy[edit]

Margaret Mahy is the author of Nonstop Nonsense, a collection of humorous stories and verses. ([1] and Bubble Trouble a collection of silly stories and poems.

To the person who added Margaret Mahy... I wasn't aware she was a nonsense writer. I think, in order for her to remain on this entry, we need to add her in the bibliography--at least one primary source that could be considered nonsense. I'll leave her up here for the moment, but if you can't provide a source, I'll take her down. Sorry! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pnotla (talkcontribs) 03:48, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Ogden Nash[edit]

Much of Ogden Nash's poetry and verse is considered nonsense.

Actually, Ogden Nash is not considered a nonsense writer by any scholars of nonsense. People do bring him up--because he's funny and because he does change some words to make amusing rhymes... but that doesn't amount to literary nonsense. There may be an exception or two within his work, and I'd be delighted if anyone could cite some. Pnotla (talk) 13:18, 12 May 2010 (UTC)Pnotla

List of nonsense writers[edit]

Someone wrote: Perhaps make a list of nonsense writers instead? It would be much more organized. I wrote back: Not sure what you mean! This IS a list, isn't it? Under the section of writers, I give a list of them... the only way to make it more list-like would be to do it vertically, which wastes much space. And rather than putting discussion topic in the code for the page, please do it here, in the discussion section! Thanks- —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pnotla (talkcontribs) 16:20, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

Fran Ross[edit]

See the discussion on Margaret Mahy, above. Please supply a source/citation or I'll erase her--sorry! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pnotla (talkcontribs) 15:25, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Franz Kafka[edit]

Speaking of literary nonsense works by authors in other languages, shouldn't Franz Kafka feature on the list ? --Ranjit.puri (talk) 17:41, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

Well, I don't really think so. Of course, turning into an insect is fairly random, but no scholars of nonsense have placed Kafka in that category. It is, perhaps, a nonsense conceit that is the seed of the book, but the rest follows very sensibly. What do you think? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pnotla (talkcontribs) 01:51, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

Kafka writes in metaphor, not nonsense.


That is far from gibberish that is an internet meme. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:09, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Is it really necessary to include a stream of random characters in the article? Why not replace them with a description of what they are supposed to represent, e.g. "a sequence of randomly selected letters" --Salimfadhley (talk) 23:42, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Starting work on page[edit]

I'm undertaking serious editing to this page. Please reply with suggestions or questions about my edits. I don't want to start any edit wars, but the amount of stuff on this page that went uncited is atrocious. I'll also make a conscious effort to change the tone. Let's see if we can get this up to a class A on wiki books!

I'm also keeping a running sandbox on my user page, where I'll test edits before moving them to the main article, so feel free to poke around.

freeradster (talk | contribs) 01:00, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm with you, Freeradster! I'll be chiming in at times. Thanks for your work. Pnotla (talk) 13:42, 12 May 2010 (UTC)Pnotla

Further Reading[edit]

I've put the Further Reading section back up (with improved formatting). According to the Books Project "Ideal" pages, this is a standard section (see the Book of Kells page, for instance). Freeradster, you mentioned earlier that you took it down before because it didn't reference things in the article, but that's not the nature of "Further Reading." These are references to reputable texts outside of Wikipedia for further research. It's not meant to correspond to direct citations from this page (for which the References section exists). If I'm not understanding something about the way these things work, please do let me know. I just want to get as much info out there as possible, and my knowledge of exactly how Wikipedia pages work is not perfect by any means. Pnotla (talk) 14:32, 12 May 2010 (UTC)Pnotla

"Subversive alteration of iconic text"?[edit]

That sounds like nonsense itself. How about "parody"?

Popular Culture section[edit]

The Popular culture section is completely unsourced, and its content reads like the POV of the editor(s) who wrote it. If sources cannot be found to support these interpretations, it should be removed. Nightscream (talk) 08:05, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Agreed! This section has gone to weed. Shall get to work... Pnotla (talk) 15:50, 17 January 2011 (UTC)Pnotla

Finally... I removed things that had no citation, and I cited a few things that hadn't been before. This should solve the issue! Pnotla (talk) 15:00, 5 September 2011 (UTC)Pnotla

But I still don't know why the formatting is off with the Zippy sentence. Help! Pnotla (talk) 18:18, 12 September 2011 (UTC)Pnotla


The neutrality tags mention a discussion on the talkpage but I can't find one. Does anyone know why this has been tagged for NPOV? We should either fix the problem or remove the tags. Truthkeeper (talk) 16:09, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

I believe I fixed all the problem spots. The tags are now (I believe) outdated and should be removed. I don't know how this works, though. I didn't want to remove the tags myself. I thought magic elves (or at least magic Wikipedia elves) did it. I'd be happy to do it myself, if I knew it were okay... Pnotla (talk) 23:49, 22 September 2011

Okay! I just removed the tags. I hope that's okay! I think the issues have been resolved. Pnotla (talk) 23:49, 22 September 2011

Abstract Nonsense: relevance?[edit]

I've removed the link to Abstract nonsense in the "See Also" section, as I fail to see the relevance; if it turns out there's a link between the two, it would be good to put some justification in the article. Cmknapp (talk) 00:29, 30 November 2012 (UTC)


Camelephantelopelicanary This name comes from a very old nonsense story about a camel that meets various animals and wishes for one of each of their attributes that he thinks will improve his personality. The story was told certainly in Victorian times when there was no or very little entertainment in the homes. The attributes selected became more and more absurd but over the years different attributes have been selected by the story teller to make the resultant animal easier to draw illustrations, and for children to make an attempt at creating the image. As the camel obtains the attributes he becomes a different ‘animal’ by adding the new animals name at the end. As far as can be ascertained the attributes used in the 1920s were: Elephant trunk picking up things with his trunk Camelephant Antelope legs ability to run fast Camelephantalope Pelican pouch ability to store (food) Camelephantelopelican Canary voice a beautiful singing voice Camelephantelopepelicanary

Very little seems to be available from searches on the internet. There are reports of people telling the story, sites with images for the story and a brief outline of the story to tell children, where the camel is called 'Brian’ and where you have to invent the rest of the story at:

There are various quizzes to find the 5.6.or 7 animals in the name, and if you want to know the seventh then you’ll find it here: The story is used in a book called ‘Clive the Magic Camel - at the Zoo’ at, and there is a brief animated story where he’s called ‘Boris' at:

I feel that the story ought to be included in the Litery Nonsense section of Wikipedia because it is a story from a bygone era that, as far as I know, is unique in the way it combines words and it is still being told by numerous people in it's various forms, with very little information written down for posterity.

It was suggested by the Teahouse that I started here.

Thank you

Colin Morgan00:28, 25 February 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by ColinMorg (talkcontribs)

Douglas Adams?[edit]

Just asking: should Doug Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide be in here? Or is that under some other category of "humor through absurdity"? I think significant parts of the bit just after Ford and Arthur get rescued via the Improbability Drive would probably qualify for nonsense, with South-End washing up on the ocean or however he put it. Anyway, thought I'd ask :) (talk) 23:49, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Yes, I should think that counts as absurdist humour rather than literary nonsense. It's all fine lines and subjective viewpoints really, though. HippyGumbo (talk) 02:55, 22 October 2017 (UTC)

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Songwriter Beck in Popular culture?[edit]

The "Popular culture" section refers to lyrics by Bob Dylan and David Byrne. I suggest that lyrics by Beck would also fall into this category. Specifically, "Loser," "Devil's Haircut," and "New Pollution" seem to use language in a nonsensical way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:602:8480:3343:90:D693:BEDB:EC6E (talk) 17:58, 16 December 2018 (UTC)