Saturday, 20 November 2010

Sir Percy Fitzpatrick - PS to yesterday's post

I'm not sure why this is, but I find that more often than not, people who comment on my blog posts do so by email. I've had two on the subject of yesterday's post, and they both make good points. So, this is in the way of an edit - two edits - to my post about Sir Percy Fizpatrick and Jock of the Bushveld.

First, the caption under the painting of Jock is misleading, in that the character in the book who said, 'It was my dawg!' was not the narrator Fitzpatrick, but Old Rocky, and Rocky was referring not to Jock but to his own (unnamed) dog who had saved his master from an attack by a wounded buffalo but was himself trampled to death in the process.

Second, the opening words of the Preface, 'Sonny, you kin reckon it dead sure, thar's something wrong 'bout a thing that don't explain itself" are not the narrator's, but again belong to Old Rocky. I may have given the impression that the book was written in the vernacular, which it certainly wasn't. Having said that, Fitzpatrick did use the vernacular in direct speech throughout, something few writers manage without intruding (Mark Twain was the master). This is No. 7 of Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Good Writing:

'Use regional dialogue, patois, sparingly. Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostophes, you won't be able to stop..'

One more edit: I meant to credit the illustrator, British wildlife artist Edmund Caldwell, who was commissioned by Fitzpatrick to gather material for the wonderful drawings and paintings in the book while on safari in the Lowveld in 1906.

And a final note to KH, if you happen to read this post: given your sensibilities a propos our canine companions, this particular book may not be for you!
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