Gary Dexter

Surprising literary ventures | 5 November 2005

Lecherous Limericks (1975) by Isaac Asimov

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Lecherous Limericks (1975) by Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov’s ambition was to have a book in every one of the major Dewey Decimal categories. This one fits in the category labelled ‘dirty poems’. It’s a collection of 100 original limericks dealing with what Asimov called ‘actions and words concerning which society pretends nonexistence — reproduction, excretion, and so on’. They are accompanied by prim exegeses on metrical structure and rhyme-scheme, which at least have the virtue of making the book a lot longer than it would otherwise have been. Perhaps surprisingly, given the possibilities of ‘young women from Venus’ and ‘old men from Uranus’, none of the limericks have extraterrestrial themes. Neither are they particularly good, as dirty limericks go; their value is partly historical, since it’s unlikely that anyone now could write on the theme of rape in precisely the sunny way they did 30 years ago:

Annabelle turned beet-red in the face

At having been raped. Such disgrace!

Yet although it was terrible

It was not quite unbearable.

She had taken her pill just in case.