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Mercredi, 19 décembre 2012

Purple Prose

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Here's a colour to complement the December snow. Purple. That's the colour of the Bulwer Purple Prose Project, a jovial little literary contest straight from the heart of Bulwer.

Yes, Bulwer, QC.

Participants are invited to submit just one sentence - the first sentence to the worst novel ever. The idea is to make it as purple as possible - that is, flowery and florid.

The project is named after Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton. So is the tiny village of Bulwer, tucked away between Birchton and Johnsville.

The story is that Lord Bulwer stopped at the Williams Corner train station in the mid 1800s. The villagers promptly re-baptised their busy intersection after him.

In those days, Lord Bulwer was a British politician, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and also an immensely popular novelist. He made a fortune writing penny novels, says Wikipedia. In 1830, he authored the famous phrase, "It was a dark and stormy night." Those words began the opening sentence of his novel, Paul Clifford.

Here's Lord Bulwer's complete sentence - all 58 words of it:
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

That's our Lord Bulwer, the Prince of Purple Prose! He was renowned for his felicitous turns of phrase. The Bulwer Purple Prose Project website lists a few other famous phrases by Lord Bulwer. "The pen is mightier than the sword," for example. Or, "Talent does what it can: Genius does what it must."

Visitors to the site will also see the contest rules. Unlike the entries, they're short and sweet. The site is at

Each entry should consist of only one sentence. Anyone is welcome to participate. There is no participation fee. Entries are due between now and January 15, 2013.

Entries will be posted on the website as they come in, but on an anonymous basis. Submissions should be sent to Then a jury of three will choose the purplest of the purple prose.

Awards will be a pittance, promise the organizers. The winners will be honoured at a festive country supper at the Bulwer Community Centre on Saturday, February 2, 2013 - a dark night, preferably not stormy!

Proceeds of the dinner will go to support the Bulwer Community Centre.

"We like this project very much! I read some of the examples at our board meeting, and they were bent over laughing!" said Peggy Roy. She is treasurer of the Centre.

The organizers - Rev. Wanda Dilabough, Michelle Lepitre and yours truly - gratefully acknowledge the Bulwer PPP's debt to the granddaddy of all Lord Bulwer fiction contests ( The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is based in the English Department at San Jose State University, and has been going strong since the 1982.

Here's a prize-winning entry from that contest, submitted last spring by Guy Foisy from Ottawa:
"William, his senses roused by a warm fetid breeze, hoped it was an early spring's equinoxal thaw causing rivers to swell like the blood-engorged gumlines of gingivitis, loosening winter's plaque, exposing decay, and allowing the seasonal pot-pouris of Mother Nature's morning breath to permeate the surrounding ether, but then he awoke to the unrelenting waves of his wife's halitosis."

All in good fun, why not give it a try? Read all about it at
Another Victorian writer, Charles Dickens, threw us a few flowers of his own. Here's one: "A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world!"

United: January 6th and 13th Sunday services are at 9:30 a.m. in Cookshire and at 11 a.m. in Sawyerville. No services on December 30. (for details, listen to message at 819-889-2838).

Anglican: Sunday services are at 9:30 a.m. in Bury (with Sunday school for children) and 11 a.m. in Cookshire. No services on December 30, and no Messy Church for children in January (819-239-6902).

Baptist: In Sawyerville, the worship service is at 9 a.m. in French, and 11 a.m. in English. Sunday school is at 10 a.m. in English and French (819-239-8818).

Do you have news to share? Call 819-300-2374 or email by January 7 for publication January 16 and by January 21 for January 30.

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