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The Ascent of Rum Doodle


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'A hilarious spoof and perfect parody of Britishness...it shames what now claims to be comedy' The Times

About the Author

W. E. Bowman was a civil engineer who spent his free time hill-walking, painting and writing (unpublished) books on the Theory of Relativity. He was married with two children and died in 1985.


I just love this book. Everything about it is nearly perfect... hugely enjoyable and brilliantly sustained. * From the introduction by Bill Bryson *
An amazing book about mountain climbing from 1956. Laugh-out-loud literature -- Tim Key * Guardian *
This wonderfully funny parody of adventure stories was first written in the 1950s but is just as fresh today with a truly brilliant comic narrator whose commentary on the expedition members is unintentionally hilarious. Buy it * Sunday Mirror *
Wonderful. Rum Doodle does for mountaineering what Three Men in a Boat did for Thames-going or Catch-22 did for the Second World War. It is simply an account of the leader of an expedition up Rum Doodle, a 40,000 and a half foot peak in the Himalayas, in the same way that Scoop is simply a tale about newsgathering in Africa. The tone is nearer to Pooter than anyone else I can think of, but the flavour is all W.E. Bowman's own * Sunday Times *
This gentle, deadly parody of the tight-arsed old school of British exploration narratives is seemingly a cult book among mountaineers, but it has been virtually unknown to the reading public since its first publication in 1956 * Guardian *

A bumbling group of British mountaineers mounts an assault on Rum Doodle, a slightly higher neighbor of Everest, in Bowman's parody novel, which was published in 1956 and became a classic within the climbing community. Bowman cobbles together a wide-ranging crew of lovably clueless climbers, including the puffed-up narrator, Binder, and a misguided guide named Humphrey Jungle, who constantly gets lost and turns up in unlikely places. Other prominent members include measurement-obsessed scientist Christopher Wish as well as linguistic expert Lancelot Constant, whose chief talent seems to be ticking off the porters from the indigenous tribe called the Yogistani, who speak through their stomachs via a series of indecipherable grunts. Early on, a memorable mishap occurs, in which Jungle ends up falling into a crevasse and the rescue effort consists of the rest of the crew joining him while they get soused on "medicinal" champagne. Bowman also offers a couple of predictable chapters as the group goes in circles and then proceeds to climb the wrong mountain, and he spends an inordinate amount of prose on their suffering at the hands of the sadistic cook, a Yogistani named Pong. Bowman manages to sustain a very thin conceit for a large number of chapters, although the silliness can at times be sophomoric. He redeems himself somewhat with an amusing "surprise" ending that features the 3,000 Yogistani porters involved in the expedition, and overall he proves himself to be an entertaining humorist who has much to offer for readers who like their outdoor humor dripping with understated British irony. B&w illus. (Feb. 1) Forecast: A new introduction by Bill Bryson (advertised in type bigger than the author's name on the book's cover) will draw readers who would otherwise almost certainly have missed this comic treat of a reissue. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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