- Hardcover: 477 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday & Co.; No Edition Stated edition (1950)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385042620
- ISBN-13: 978-0385042628
- ASIN: B000OLZQ86
- Package Dimensions: 7.5 x 4.4 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 103 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,597,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel Hardcover – 1950
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archyology: the long lost tales of archy and mehitabel. UPNE. Republished in 2009. 120p. $14. (pb)
archyology ii (the final dig): the long lost tales of archy and mehitabel. Bloodaxe. 2000. 124p. $13.80 (pb)
expression is the need of my soul
i was once a vers libre poet
but i died and my soul went into the body of a cockroach
it has given me a new outlook on life
Thus wrote archy the cockroach in his fist communiqué to newsman and soon to be friend Don Marquis. The time was 1916. The US wasn't even involved in World War I and Prohibition was yet to come.
Marquis was a columnist and reporter for the New York Sun but he was also a frustrated poet. His way out was to write columns in blank verse about Archy, a free verse poet reborn as a cockroach, and archy's raggle taggle alleycat friend mehitabel, who claimed to have been Cleopatra in a former life. His columns had been supposedly written by archy, one letter at a time. archy would climb to the top of Marquis's typewriter, then throw himself head first at the key he wanted to hit. He couldn't print capitals because he didn`t have the strength or reach to work the shift bar and a letter at the same time. Thus everything he wrote was in lower case with no punctuation.)
archy's missals to his reporter friend are as enjoyable to read now as they were when they first appeared between 1916-1930. The political and social commentary that surfaces in some of them is dated now. It's the pieces about archy and mehitabel -a strange friendship--that are timeless. How can you not like a creature who writes: "i see things from the underside now/ thank you for the apple peelings in the wastepaper basket boss/ but your glue is getting so stale/ i cant eat it"? And mehitabel's devil-may-care approach to life (which usually treats her badly)? "i have had my ups and downs/ but wotthehell wotthehell/ yesterday scepters and crowns/ fried oysters and velvet gowns/ and today i herd with bums/ but wotthehell wotthehell..."
archy and mehitabel was made into a not very good musical called Shinbone Alley. Carol Channing sang mehitabel's role on the short version recording of it. Channing was probably as good as you could get for mehitabel but unfortunately, the vehicle was inferior. For the true stuff, you still have to go these three collections of Marquis's columns. (The archyology books are only for fanatics -they're collections of the leftover pieces that somehow had not made it into he original collection.)