Quoth the raven, "Halloa old girl!"
August 13, 2008 12:02 PM   Subscribe

"On the clock striking twelve he appeared slightly agitated, but he soon recovered, walked twice or thrice along the coach house, stopped to bark, staggered, exclaimed 'Halloa old girl!' (his favorite expression) and died... The children seem rather glad of it. He bit their ankles, but that was play..." So wrote Charles Dickens, describing the death of his pet raven "Grip," in a letter to a friend. Grip has an interesting legacy. Having served as an eponymous character in Dickens' Barnaby Rudge [full text] and subsequently inspiring Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven [full text], Grip has the distinction of being named a literary landmark. His taxidermied body is on display in the Rare Book Department at the Philadelphia Free Library.
posted by amyms (19 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This is relevant to my interests. Thank you, amyms.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:07 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

"He bit their ankles, but that was play..."

Gee, nobody ever gave my pet crocodile the same benefit of the doubt.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:16 PM on August 13, 2008

How has no one ever figured out a brilliant prank involving Grip and St. John Neumann? PHILLY, YOU ARE DISAPPOINTING YOUR COLLECTION OF PRESERVED DEAD CREATURES.
posted by kalimac at 12:27 PM on August 13, 2008

I never knew that ravens could talk (or, really, imitate human speech).
posted by amro at 12:32 PM on August 13, 2008

eponymous [uh-pon-uh-muhs]
giving one's name to a tribe, place, etc.: Romulus, the eponymous founder of Rome.

Eponymous (Wikipedia)

Amyms, I apologize and I'm not trying to single you out, but I don't think I have ever seen this word used correctly by anyone except REM. The band R.E.M. titled their 1988 compilation CD Eponymous as a joke.

posted by Daddy-O at 12:40 PM on August 13, 2008

So can crows, amro. My wife worked for a time at a nature centre where a crow was kept - it would say hello and could also say its name. They're reasonably intelligent birds, and it was interesting to see that Pegleg remembered my wife the last time we were there. She immediately jumped to the side of the cage nearest us and croaked "hello" endlessly.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:42 PM on August 13, 2008

Hey no problem, Daddy-O. You know, it's funny, I paused when I typed "eponymous character" in the FPP, thinking it just didn't feel "right"... What would have been a correct way to indicate that the raven character had the same name as the real raven (with the goal being to do so without being too wordy)?

I thought about MeFiMailing you, so as not to derail the thread, but then I figured since the subject matter is literature-related, it's probably okay to take a small detour to hash out a word usage issue.
posted by amyms at 12:51 PM on August 13, 2008

I hope my taxidermied body becomes a literary landmark.
posted by Rinku at 12:52 PM on August 13, 2008

jbickers, that's the only thing I could think of when I read the headline.
posted by CaseyB at 12:59 PM on August 13, 2008

never used baby shoes, your comment reminded me of a mynah bird that lived free-range at a local souvenir shop I used to frequent as a kid. He'd strut around the store and follow people, looking them up and down as they shopped. Every once in awhile he'd let out a very exaggerated wolf-whistle and then he'd say "Oh, sorry." People loved it.
posted by amyms at 1:01 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

(having one’s pet stuffed having became all the rage in England after George IV had his pet giraffe stuffed).

Wait, what? How is this little tidbit not featured in a song by Flanders & Swann?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:06 PM on August 13, 2008

I suppose he's displayed there because Rare Book was as close as they could get to Bare Rook?
posted by ubiquity at 1:27 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Daddy-O, amyms, by the definition Daddy-O posted, amyms' usage looks A-OK.

From the link Daddy-O posted:

1846, from Gk. eponymos "given as a name, giving one's name to something," from epi- "upon" + onyma, Aeolic dial. variant of onoma "name" (see name).

The raven gave his name to an 'etc.,' in this case, a character. The specifically geographic usage cited in the definition appears to me to be misleading.

Also, here's the opening of the wikipedia entry linked above (for "eponym"):

An eponym is the name of a person, whether real or fictitious, which has (or is thought to have) given rise to the name of a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item. An eponymous person is the person referred to by the eponym. In contemporary English, the term eponymous is often used to mean self-titled, as in "Metallica's eponymous 'black album'".
posted by mwhybark at 1:38 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

mwhybark I think you would be correct if all ravens had become known as Grip thanks to Dickens' bird or the character in his story. Giving the same proper name of an actual creature to a fictional creature in a book is not eponymous. Careful reading of your italicized quote will bear this out.
posted by Daddy-O at 2:27 PM on August 13, 2008

I was in there not too long ago too, crap!
posted by cashman at 2:29 PM on August 13, 2008

Forty-seven years in Philly and how could I not know this? I'm gonna have to go there and check it out.
posted by fixedgear at 2:59 PM on August 13, 2008

Ravens are actually amazingly good mimics; they actually sound like people talking, unlike parrots.
posted by Pyry at 3:29 PM on August 13, 2008

James Russell Lowell has the classic piss-take on Edgar Allen Poe in his poem, A Fable for Critics.

"There comes Poe, with his raven, like Barnaby Rudge,
Three-fifths of him genius and two-fifths sheer fudge"
posted by jonp72 at 4:49 PM on August 13, 2008

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