Friday, November 30, 2012

John Bellairs: Author Of The Imaginary

During Patrick Dunne's undergraduate years at Notre Dame - from which he graduated in 1960 - he was a fellow classmate of John Bellairs. Dunne shared some of his memories in the Autumn 2012 edition of the Notre Dame Magazine:

From him, to give only two proofs of that characterization, I learned how to chant — in Arabic — “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet,” as well as the correct spelling and pronunciation of Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, the New England site of the longest place-name in the United States, and otherwise known as Lake Webster, along with a famous translation of that gigantic polysynthetic word-sentence, “You fish on your side, I fish on my side, and nobody fishes in the middle.”


He loved to play with the English language, throwing an original twist on clichés — as in his rendering of a particularly easy task as “A piece of park, a walk in the cake.”


Assisting one of his professors by evaluating student essays, he was collapsed in helpless laughter one afternoon by a euphuistic freshman’s characterization of his family home, rhapsodizing about the beautiful scenery “that circumnavigated the house.”


To John Bellairs’ inspiration I owe an ever-growing love of literature, of history, of wit, of matchless conversation, and — I cannot deny it — of amusement at the expense of our neighbors.

It's a nice follow-up to the 2003 article about John.

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