Monday, 29 April 2013

'... and a sense that the world was mad'

'He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad.'
Not a bad line, is it, with its fine metrical lilt? Not verse but prose, it is in fact the opening sentence of Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini, born on this day in 1875. Sabatini, an Italian-English writer with a rather racy cosmopolitan background, was a prolific and very popular writer of colourful swashbuckling historical adventures, several of which were filmed, and remain in print to this day - notably The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood and the aforementioned Scaramouche, his first success and a huge international bestseller. His life had its share of sadness - his only son killed in a car accident, and his stepson in a plane crash on the day he received his RAF wings, flying in celebration over the parental home. But when Sabatini died in 1950, his widow had that line from Scaramouche engraved on his headstone. Not a bad epitaph, is it?

5 comments:

  1. Scaramouche of course makes a later appearance in Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, where Freddie Mercury asks him to 'do the fandango', a request supplemented by a meteorological note, 'Thunderbolt and lightning Very very frightening me' and the invocation 'Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo Figaro - magnifico'. Indeed.

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