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Archy and Mehitabel Paperback – September 29, 1987

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Frequently Bought Together

Archy and Mehitabel + The Annotated Archy and Mehitabel (Penguin Classics) + archyology: the long lost tales of archy and mehitabel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (September 29, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385094787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385094788
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Of all the literary genres, humor has the shortest shelf life--except for Archy and Mehitabel, that is. First published in 1916, it is a classic of American literature. Archy is a cockroach, inside whom resides the soul of a free-verse poet; he communicates with Don Marquis by leaping upon the keys of the columnist's typewriter. In poems of varying length, Archy pithily describes his wee world, the main fixture of which is Mehitabel, a devil-may-care alley cat.

Archy music will linger in your head long after you finish the book. Here's a tiny taste from his interview with a mummy:

"what ho
my regal leatherface says i

little scatter footed
says he"

Writers (particularly journalists) can go lifetimes without attaining such loose-limbed grace. And the illustrations by George Herriman ("Krazy Kat") provide the perfect counterpoint. On top of all that, Marquis did the impossible: he made a cockroach loveable.


Collection of humorous stories by Don Marquis, originally published from 1916 in Marquis's newspaper columns "The Sun Dial" in the New York Evening Sun and "The Lantern" in the New York Herald Tribune and published in book form in 1927. The stories center on Archy, a philosophical cockroach who types messages to the author in lowercase letters (being unable to activate the shift mechanism), and Mehitabel, a free-spirited alley cat whose motto is "toujours gai." After initial publication, the work and its sequels were usually published without capital letters. Archy and Mehitabel consists mostly of free-verse poems on such concerns of Archy's as transmigration of souls, social injustice, life in New York City, and death. Sequels included Archys Life of Mehitabel (1933) and Archy Does His Part (1935), both of which were included in the lives and times of archy and mehitabel (1940; illustrated by George Herriman), a posthumously published compendium of the previous books. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 55 customer reviews
Entertaining and enlightening.
Archie and Mehitabel were characters invented by Don Marquis, a newspaper columnist of the early 20th century.
Anne Mills
This is a very sweet book and great bedtime reading.
D. Isaacson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl VINE VOICE on July 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Archy and Mehitabel" is a strange, funny little book. Drawing from the conversational poetry found in books like Edgar Lee Masters "Spoon River Anthology," Marquis uses a colloquial style which not only suits his characters, but works in a poem. Lots of laughs, some decent writing, and a tasty way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Talking animals are easy to find in literature. Good ones, like a cat and a cockroach of this caliber, are not. Marquis brings humanity by allowing his animals to stay animals. Spiders still are poisonous, rats are still threatening, and cockroaches have never been able to type the capital letters on a typewriter. Marquis pushes reality, keeping his characters grounded in truth (OK, he fudges with truth a lot, but don't let that stop you).

While filled with humorous tales, moments are sad, like in the ninth poem, "freddy the rat perishes." Dear Freddy has a run in with a spider who is up to no good. In a valiant struggle, a tough South American spider ("raised on red pepper and blood" and "nursed on tabasco sauce") Freddy is killed while saving his friends. Freddy ate some poisoned cheese the night before and let the spider bite him, knowing he had nothing to lose. After it was over, Archy and Mehitabel dropped Freddy "off the fire escape into the alley with/military honors". Despite the whole premise being ridiculous, a tear might well up.

Children will love being read the stories, and younger teens may find poetry readable (before you send them on to Keats and Byron!). Great, funny pictures, completely in the context of each poem-tale.

I fully recommend this book.

Anthony Trendl
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By yygsgsdrassil on January 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
the vers libre of
archy literate cockroach
and mehitabel krazy kat s kouzin
are amazing and amuzing
good thing has most
of the cocroaches volume via marquis
herriman s drawings captures
marquises tone and surrreality
and hyperreality perfectly
like a cross between a glorious
post apocalypse a goofy sat
morning cartoon and an unkept roadside
chuck wagon i believe we
all should keep
cockroach farms
just in
case just in
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By DJ Rix on August 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
archy (or is it don marquis)
is a greater poet
than the critics admit
think of e.e. cummings
did he suffer so by diving
headfirst on to the typewriter keys
but he probably knew archy
from some greenwich village

amazing to think these poems
were newspaper columns
when a column meant a column
straight down the inky newsprint
archy's words staining fingers
the newspaper column had a golden age
alas it is gone poor archy
and now i too have a headache
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte Hartzell on March 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Archy and Mehitabel came into my college mailbox over and over again back in the early 40s. I was being courted by a fellow journalism classmate, who began typing sections from Marquis' book and sending them to me anonymously through the college post office. Occasionally, he alternated Archy with red roses. We worked together on the college publication, twice a week, for three years. And eventually married. Just last night our son, now 51, and I were recalling the book, which I had not seen (or even thought about for many years). The copy of the hardback which he gave me has long since vanished from my shelves, much to my dismay. That seems to happen to all my most favorite books! My son opened his laptop and found this familiar old "odd couple" at, alive and doing well after all these years. I'm ordering a new copy tonight! Thanx!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
now granted worlds bestloved cockroach is not
a competitive title boss but you have to agree
mehitabel the cat says that i should just
forget it and return to my dusty corner but
mehitabel is a lady cat who just between us
boss is not what we might call a lady
except by default of her increasing
battered state boss ive been meaning to ask
if you would leave some cracker crumbs
by the typewriter tonight and maybe
a fish or two the ones in your bed
will do i mean for crumbs but the fish
youll have to find somewhere else
mehitabel the cat is hungry and you know
i hate to see her eat alone
i hope you are finding some readers
for my vers lbre after all these years
i know that children love to read it
because they see that i understand how
silly punctuation really is i have seen
copies of my work handed to big english
department gurus who felt
uncomfortable with it
because they hadnt seen it reviewed
in new york or anywhere else so i hope
this will help them because they need it boss
i mentioned the possibility of royalties
to mehitabel and she said that she had
all the royalty she needed because she said
she was once cleopatra and knew only
the creme de la creme but sometimes i think
she was never really cleopatra but is
afraid i will feel sorry for her i do
please find something for her to eat
soon as she has that look in her eye
again and its the
dusty corner for me right now
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