The Joys of the Dratted PhD Project, or I Heart Pratchett

You can spend a day on the couch, reading Pratchett. And it’s research! 🙂 Lucky, lucky me. Here’s a bit from Guards! Guards!, which had me in giggles. It illustrates quite nicely what I call the down-to-earthness about Pratchett’s characters. And his wonderful sense for the absurd.

Now a black-robed figure scurried through the midnight streets, ducking from doorway to doorway, and reached a grim and forbidding portal. No mere doorway got that grim without effort, one felt. It looked as though the architect had been called in and given specific instructions. We want something eldritch in dark oak, he’d been told. So put an unpleasant gargoyle thing over the archway, give it a slam like the footfall of a giant and make it clear to everyone, in fact, that this isn’t the kind of door that goes “ding-dong” when you press the bell.

The figure rapped a complex code on the dark woodwork. A tiny barred hatch opened and one suspicious eye peered out.

“‘The significant owl hoots in the night,’” said the visitor, trying to wring the rainwater out of its robe.

“‘Yet many gray lords go sadly to the masterless men,’” intoned a voice on the other side of the grille.

“‘Hooray, hooray for the spinster’s sister’s daughter,’” countered the dripping figure.

“‘To the axeman, all supplicants are the same height.’”

“‘Yet verily, the rose is within the thorn.’”

“‘The good mother makes bean soup for the errant boy,’” said the voice behind the door.

There was a pause, broken only by the sound of the rain. Then the visitor said, “What?”

“‘The good mother makes bean soup for the errant boy.’”

There was another, longer pause. Then the damp figure said, “Are you sure the ill-built tower doesn’t tremble mightily at a butterfly’s passage?”

“Nope. Bean soup it is. I’m sorry.”

The rain hissed down relentlessly in the embarrassed silence.

“What about the cagèd whale?” said the soaking visitor, trying to squeeze into what little shelter the dread portal offered.

“What about it?”

“It should know nothing of the mighty deeps, if you must know.”

Oh, the cagèd whale. You want the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night. Three doors down.”

“Who’re you, then?”

“We’re the Illuminated and Ancient Brethren of Ee.”

If you haven’t yet read a Pratchett novel, run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore!

4 thoughts on “The Joys of the Dratted PhD Project, or I Heart Pratchett

  1. azteclady

    My s.o. sings Pratchett’s praises, and has indeed read many snippets aloud to me–this one included.

    Methinks I should give in already…

    Glad at least part of your PhD Project thingie is enjoyable 😉

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