Illustrated by George Cruikshank among others, this example of good old-fashioned and wholesome entertainment offers a collection of enigmas, conundrums, acrostics, “decapitations”, and a series of incredibly tricky rebuses. The preface explains that an enigma can have many solutions whereas a conundrum only has one, and that “The essence of a good conundrum is to be found in its answer, which should be itself something of a pun, a puzzle, or an epigram, an inversion of the regular and ordinary meaning of the word.”
There are 631 conundrums:
A sample, click for full size:
Oh, these are awful, and quite wonderful, well, some of them. There’s quite a bit of casual racism and misogyny to be found, too. Via The Public Domain, or you can just click right over to the book.
Marcus Ranum says
Wow, a lot of those are what I’d consider “kid jokes” -- was this from before humor* was invented?
(* i.e: dick jokes)
Well, they are 120+ years old.
I used to love this kind of “humour”, i.e. olden days stuff that was not, by any description I’d recognise, actually funny. I assumed that there were two or three fat sweaty white men churning this garbage out and getting it published because they went to school with the chap who owned the printers’, and everyone who read it knew it wasn’t funny but was simply to terribly terribly polite to say so.
I remember the shock after I read “1066 and all that” to discover when it had been written, because all available evidence up to that point seemed to suggest “funny” had been invented in about 1963.
chigau (違う) says
playing with words and grammar
that is what fat sweaty white men do
bless your heart
What is the true pun art? Playing flute.
I liked #28, which could easily be updated: What’s the difference between a Xerox machine and the flu?
I think I saw a couple of the others in the “1001 Jokes for Kids” book I got my grand niece last xmas.
How very lucky we are that in 2017 printed books are everyday goods. I think these types of publications were meant to be suitable for all ages, and ‘wholesome’ as claimed in the intro. It was considered old-fashioned when it was published. I do appreciate knowing the finer details of the difference between an enigma and a conundrum. I can’t imagine what decapitations might be, it doesn’t sound very wholesome.
T’ain’t funny McGee, well most of them anyways.