“Around the World with the Gypsy Jockey” (E21)

  • Originally printed: Liberty Magazine, October 24, 1931
  • First reprinted in: No Poems; Or Around the World Backwards and Sideways
  • Unable to compare reprint with original text – Liberty Historical Archives not available at Toronto Public Library
  • Original Byline: unknown


Well… as you might expect from a piece with the above title, this one is a parody of Orientalist/white supremacist anthropological gawking that nevertheless participates a little too blithely in that unsavoury discourse. RB writes chiefly in the persona of Colonel Michington Mea, a Movietone marauder who makes his living by pointing at things you wouldn’t see at your local church picnic and expressing astonishment. The Colonel is certainly a fair target for ridicule, but the piece quickly lapses into a rehearsal of well-worn tropes that undoubtedly fit (alongside his foot) in the mouth of our guide, but aren’t much fun to read.

Benchley does eventually pull the parody together into something resembling a genuine critique, culminating in the delirious expostulations quoted below…

Favourite Moment:
“The Spell of the East! Will it ever release us from its thralldom? Who knows? Who cares?”

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