Christopher Logue, 23 Nov 1926 – 2 Dec 2012

December 6, 2011 at 5:51 pm (funny, Jim D, literature, surrealism)

The poet Christopher Logue’s finest work was a version of the Iiliad, War Music, which is considered by those who know, to be the finest since Pope. He reinvigorated Homer by using contemporary idioms including advertising slogans (“Permanent Red” was a slogan for lipstick) and film directions (“Cut to the fleet”).

He also wrote plays, screenplays and (under the pseudonym of Count Palmiro Vicarion), pornography. But I (like most people) only really know him for his work for ‘Private Eye’ : the columns ‘Pseud’s Corner’ and ‘True Stories’, both of which were often laugh-out-loud funny and consistently the best features in the magazine.

‘True Stories’ was devoted to bizarre real-life incidents culled from newspapers round the world, involving ordinary people. Logue slightly re-wrote the items in a dead-pan style, turning them into surreal masterpieces. But – significantly – he often changed the names of those involved. They were, he explained, ordinary people – not celebs – and so should not be publicly humiliated.

Unlike most of the upper-class, public school shits who ran Privare Eye in the sixties and seventies, Logue was a decent and principled radical who campaigned against the death penalty, actively supported CND (at a time when it was still an honourable movement) and attempted to use his poetry (alongside Adrian Mitchell) against the Vietnam war. He went to jail for his anti-Vietnam campaigning.

I for one intend, belatedly, to read himChristopher Logue

Above: Christopher Logue (Photo: REX)
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“Almost everything I do is based on other texts. Without plagiarism, there would be no literature. I’m a rewrite man, like our Willy Shakespeare.”
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Logue reads his poetry to jazz by the Tony Kinsey Quartet.
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Edited Private Eye’s ‘Pseud’s Corner’ for a number of years, a job  which “did require a certain level of hatred for the pretentious idiots of  the world. They never let me down with their mastery of self-deception. Over  the years I was caught out by irony a couple of times. I got John Peel  wrong, I think — I felt rather ashamed of that.” Perhaps we should have a leftie bogging version: there’s no shortage of candidates.
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Telegraph obit here; the Graun‘s here.

2 Comments

  1. Roger said,

    Huge pity that his modernist Iliad adaptation will never get finished – it really is outstanding.

  2. Markmcn said,

    Yeah, his adaptations of Homer were electrifying. He also wrote an entertaining autobiography, “Prince Charming”.

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