A Selection from the Memoirs of Leopold LaPiedby B.B. Irvine / Humor / Historical Fiction
A Selection from the Memoirs of Leopold LaPied
by B.B. Irvine
Chapter 1 – Introduction Afterword by Updating Afterwordist
While going through an old shoebox looking for notes on the Jazzmarani carvings, I came across this exercise in academic literature, which I wanted to reproduce for the widest possible audience to miss.
(Original academic release date October 1975 [75-10.05] – B.B. Irvine, 2013)
Original Afterword (1976)
AFTERWORD by Sir Llellington Limeswell, PhD, FRS [1976-10.09]
Leopold LaPied is certainly one of the most obscure writers of the 1300s. His many manuscripts remain only as tantalizing fragments in musty ruins of medieval monasteries, where he must have been widely read as a popular writer.
This particular section, relating to the famous Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” was found only in 1973 after excavations in the north of France in the former L’Eglise de la Grande Vache de Mere, near the sleepy hamlet of L’Orange Nez.
The excavation team was led by Professor M. Bain-Occuper, a professor of archaeology and medieval scholar at L’Academie de Vieux Soulieres (Paris). Professor Bain-Occuper remarks, “It is a great day that I find manuscript under Gothic carving of Christ. Great day.” Mr. Saai Ecrire, in his Great Finds In The North Of France – A Catalogue (Café French Press, 1974) cites this single discovery as one of the “truly fortunate ones of the past century.”
There seems little doubt that this story is true. Of course, Mr. Cuisine Sentir, in his book L’Adventures de Matelas (“Archeological Finds In Northern France And Their Authenticity,” Houghton Mifflin, 1974) gives this manuscript short shrift, referring to it in a contemptuous way as “je n’aime-pas que vous parlez a moi” (“so much chin music”) and generally claiming that LaPied was not the actual writer, and in fact never even knew Chaucer. He proceeds to specifically cite lines where he feels he catches LaPied in an inconsistency vis-à-vis “The Canterbury Tales” (Contes de Canterbury), which he accepts as the final judge of accuracy.
On the side of those who are defending LaPied’s manuscript, the leader seems to be Mr. Canard LaPied III, who is actually a descendant of Leopold LaPied, and can trace his family all the way back. “Monsieur Sentir’s contention that my famous relative did not write this and did not even know Chaucer is completely ridiculous. In my family archives and in the vaults of St. Paul’s cathedral there are numerous letters from LaPied to Chaucer, and the replies.” He goes on to further state that there is every reason to believe that Chaucer and LaPied called each other by the surnames “Leo” and “Geoff,” although as yet there have been no notes uncovered proving this.
Mr. Sentir, in an answering article published in June’s issue of “See The Past” (See The Past, issue #342, June, 1974), calls Mr. LaPied III’s claims, “Le grand poulet parce-que il est un ane de cheval!” (“totally ridiculous and an attempt to cover up the greatest forgery in the history of literature”) and further considers Mr. LaPied III prejudiced because of his lineage.
But, in an article published in the September issue of “Words, The Journal of the Melodious Languages” (Words, 9/74), Mr. LaPied III brings to light the suspicious evidence of literature forgeries on the part of Mr. Sentir, citing specifically Mr. Sentir’s famous discovered document, “Je Connaitre Beowulf” (‘I Know Beowulf’) in which a writer named only once as a “Gustav Sentir” appears to give a narration of the classic “Beowulf” as seen through the eyes of Beowulf’s second-in-command, “one Gustav Sentir.”
Carbon-14 tests, Mr. LaPied reveals, have shown that this epic, recorded on moose hide and found in a crag by Mr. Sentir while hunting duck in Finland, is not as old (“approximately 990 years old,” according to Mr. Sentir) as has been claimed. “Indeed,” Mr. LaPied III writes, “the tests reported to me state the age as ‘exactly 16 years, give or take eight months,’ not as 990 years old.”
Mr. Sentir replied only with a single telegram with the words, “Vous etes un poisson vert,” (‘You are a green fish’), and has been missing ever since. His absence is keenly felt, while his archeological cause is being taken over by a Mr. Percy Suttleridge-Quakyheels this upcoming January.
Meanwhile, most experts seem to agree (reluctantly) that the LaPied story is based on fact.
In 1386, Chaucer is actually suspected of starting to write the “Tales” after his patron John of Gaunt leaves England for the Continent. Further, certain references smack of the expected social “do’s and don’ts” of the time. For example, the Prioress who LaPied meets surprises him with her very presence, since it is known and accepted that, as a general rule, the Bishops did not like their nuns going on pilgrimmages because of the ruffians they might team up with. Another example: in the section where Chaucer states that “love and marriage are uncompatible,” there is reason to believe that he is speaking an accepted truth of the times.
Perhaps the final words on the LaPied MS should come from Professor Bain-Occuper (who discovered it), when he said in a lecture broadcast last month from New York (George Lint, “Found In The Ground” moderator):
Prof. BAIN-OCCUPER: “If it is fiction, it is fiction based on fact. If it be false, then it is not true. It is great day when I discover it, though. I pick up carving and feel crinkly manuscript under it. L’Eglise de la Vache de Mere is great place to dig. Last week, just, under big Gothic sarcophagus, I find a whole new manuscript!”
George LINT: “What is the name of this newest manuscript?”
Prof. BAIN-OCCUPER: “Is called ‘Je Connaitre Beowulf’ or ‘I Know Beowulf.’ And is by great unknown writer named Hraztho Bain-Occuper, who is actually a very old ancestor of mine, who –”
(Indistinct shouting as pandemonium breaks out, and broadcast ends.)
Updated Afterword 2013 by B. B. Irvine (Specious Project Correspondent)
Reflecting upon the more than three dozen years which passed since Sir Llellington Limeswell wrote his 1976 essay, I cannot help but wonder what he would have made of the LaPied-Chaucer Wars that have plagued the field since. I believe he would be happy some sort of consensus has at last been apparently achieved – once more (of course, I could simply e-mail and ask him, but speculation is more fun than actually knowing something for certain, don’t you think?)
To start, the recent erosion of LaPied’s fame has finally stopped, after Moose “Big Bite” Lewiston decided there was no statistical correlation between his observations that nearly all of the writings by LaPied were discovered in medieval “water closets,” and his odious suggestion that this meant recycling was in effect even then. His subsequent hiring by the Foundation LaPied (European Division) for a well paying no-show job has worked out well for all, wherever he is now pulling down a six figure salary in euros.
As far as the LaPied-Chaucer Wars, in the settling dust, Lionel Moot wrote what he terms an “after action report” in “Geoff-Leo News” (Geoff-Leo News, Vol.35, No.1, 2013-01), seeking to sum up all that happened.
He notes the 1977 discovery of Mr. Cuisine Sentir working as a ping-pong pro in a Florida country club, claiming he had never heard of, “Chaucer, England, France, or anyone named LaPied (Canard or otherwise), and it’s fifty clams a lesson – up front.”
Moot then recalls the unpleasant fist fights (The Thrilla in Wallpilla, The Bout in Trout [Michigan], The Dust Up in Restrup, and The Punchalo in Buffalo) between Canard LaPied III and Percy Suttleridge-Quakyheels, and that terrible rash of knocking on hotel doors and running away during last year’s “Chaucer Con 4” in Las Vegas (in which no one in attendance was spared).
After all the battles (in print and reality), it remains unclear whether the latest piece of scholarship regarding Chaucer’s disappearance from the historical record will stand.