Thursday, July 22, 2010

David Mitchell foresees "Twitter"?

(Image from Wikipedia)

In 2004, fully two years before Jack Dorsey came up with the concept of using a short message service to intercommunicate with a small network of individuals, David Mitchell wrote of a 'twitter' service dating back to the the mid-19th century, as evidenced by Dr. Henry Goose's grateful response to Adam Ewing's empathy for his destitute plight:
"I thank you, sir, I thank you . . ."
Destitute? Why? Apparently, the Marchioness Grace of Mayfair had blackened Dr. Goose's reputation, but the good doctor would have his revenge and was occupied with collecting in his handkerchief human teeth spat out by cannnibals, which he would supply to a certain medical "artisan of Piccadilly who fashions denture sets for the nobility [and] pays handsomely for human gnashers":
"[T]hese ivories" -- he shook his 'kerchief -- "are my angels of redemption. Permit me to elucidate. The Marchioness wears dental fixtures fashioned by the afore-mentioned doctor. Next yuletide, just as that scented She-Donkey is addressing her Ambassadors' Ball, I, Henry Goose, yes, I shall arise & declare to one & all that our hostess masticates with cannibals' gnashers! Sir Hubert will challenge me, predictably, 'Furnish your evidence,' that boor shall roar, 'or grant me satisfaction!' I shall declare, 'Evidence, Sir Hubert? Why, I gathered your mother's teeth myself from the spittoon of the South Pacific! Here, sir, here are some of their fellows!' & fling these very teeth into her tortoiseshell soup tureen & that, sir, that will grant me my satisfaction!"
Doctor Goose's revenge will be sweet . . . or, rather, 'tweet':
"The twittering wits will scald the icy Marchioness in their news sheets & by next season she shall be fortunate to receive an invitation to a Poorhouse Ball!"
See? Twitter already, around 1850. Don't believe me? Go then to pages 3 and 4 of Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, and read therein these very words from "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing."

Reading is believing.

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