Monday, February 28, 2011


Around the World With Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis, Harcourt Brace and Company, 1958, 336 pp

 The most interesting thing about the #4 bestseller of 1958 is its publishing history. The original manuscript included a chapter, "Auntie Mame and Mother Russia." which was not in the 1958 edition. Due to the recent Senator McCarthy and his communist witch hunt, Harcourt Brace deemed the chapter too controversial. The missing episode was found years later by the author's widow and finally included in a 1990 reprint.

  That leads to the second interesting feature of this book. It is much funnier, more satirical, and a superior read to Auntie Mame, the 1955 bestseller, which I disliked as a formulaic and silly piece of fluff.

 In Around the World With Auntie Mame, the fabulously rich, sexy and irrepressible woman travels to Paris, Venice, Germany, Iraq and Russia. Patrick Dennis uses the wacky encounters of Mame to satirize everything and everyone, but especially Americans and British who live in other countries. He makes intelligent fun of the pre-WWII politics and conditions in these countries, where Mame gets embroiled in everything from matchmaking between a Christian girl and a Jewish boy to funding a communal enterprise in Russia.

 I gained more respect for the author and now thank him for an educational romp. How prescient of him to put Mame in Iraq and have her barely escaping arms dealers in the China Sea.

(Around the World With Auntie Mame is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

No comments:

Post a Comment