Day 109: the jammy school of bastards

Inspired in equal measure by the Great British Bake-Off episode featuring “self-saucing puddings” (best quote: “now that’s what I call a sauced pudding!” declared judge Mary of contestant Richard’s black forest fondants), and the grad seminar I’m teaching this quarter on critique, I have founded (and also identified) a new literary school.

Allow me to present, ladies and gents: the jammy school of bastards.

So far, there are only two members of this school, but they are heavy-hitters, both of ’em.

First, naturally, there is this blog’s stalwart STC on fine form:

“O how I wish to be talking, not writing–for my mind is so full, that my thoughts stifle & jam each other / & I have presented them as shapeless jellies. … Repetition is the sad necessity of all philo-parenthesists” (Marginalia, vol. 3, p 138) [1]

Secondly, here is James Joyce describing the style of the chapter “Nausicaa” in Ulysses. The chapter is written, he wrote to Frank Budgen in 1920, in a “namby-pamby jammy marmalady drawersy … style with effects of incense, mariolatry, masturbation, stewed cockles, painter’s palette, chitchat, circumlocutions, etc etc.” (Letters of James Joyce, vol .1, ed. Stuart Gilbert. London: Faber and Faber, 1957, p.135)

I am excessively fond of the jammy school – in fact, I am so bold as to try my hand at it myself on occasion, tho, with prose as with jam, I often have trouble getting the stuff to gel at the crucial stage.

Obviously, there should be factions – the marmalady versus the shapeless jellies, for example.

I welcome suggestions of other members or features that we might add to the jammy school.

N.B. Before I’m deluged with enquires, let me make one thing perfectly clear: no, you cannot be a member if your sole qualification is expertise in jam-making (although if you must send samples, so be it).

No, your prose itself must be jammy. For example, Joshua, recent facebook pictures indicate, makes quite delicious looking marmalade from his own home-grown-lemons; but, unfortunately for him, his writing is far too limpid and soundly constructed to belong, properly speaking, to the jammy school. (Yes, to the pedants among you, jellies are limpid, but they are also wobbly). Sorry, Joshua.



[1] The OED suggests, to my surprise, that the noun jam referring to the fruit-boiled-with-sugar concoction may derive from the verb jam referring to wedging an object between two other bodies … the idea being that there is a similar crushing movement occurring in the jam-making process. And both words seem to only pop into English in the early eighteenth century! How peculiar!


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