July 20/365 Cats, Before Webber

I wish that Andrew Lloyd Webber had never discovered T. S. Elliot.

elliot.3I have a paperback copy of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, illustrated perfectly by Edward Gorey. I wish it was a hardback because the poems deserve whiter paper, stronger ink, and more durable covers. Instead, the book is a slim little nothing that gets lost on my shelves. (Luckily, I sort by author, and Elliot’s other books are wide enough to find.)

Webber’s Cats takes all that is perfect in the poetry, and drags the maudlin to the forefront. There is nothing as sappy as Grizabella in the OP, and indeed, nothing that cloying exists in the real world of cats either. Can you imagine an ordinary housecat watching the expert, supposedly-feline movements, the excessive grooming licks, the grotesques of humans cavorting as some perversion of the singular, sinuous grace that is a Cat? Elliot didn’t write any of that. And I’m sure, that housecat, when presented with all that fuss, would do, as any good cat would do. A leg would be lifted, and her back curved away, as she would delicately clean her ass.



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