A Parody Outline of History

Author: Donald Ogden Stewart


An open space on the edge of the forest.

In the centre of the clearing a small gaudily-painted tent.

Seated on the ground in a semicircle before the tent, some forty or fifty Indians.

Standing on a box before the entrance to the tent, a man of twenty-five or fifty.

In his left hand he holds a fog horn; in his right, a stein of beer.

He puts the horn to his lips and blows heavy blast.

He bellows, "Beauty—Beauty—Beauty!"

He takes a drink of beer.

He repeats this performance nine times.

He takes up some mud and deftly models the features of several well-known characters—statesmen, writers, critics. In many cases the resemblance is so slight that Priscilla can hardly recognize the character.

He picks up a heavy club and proceeds to beat each one of his modeled figures into a pulp.

The Indians applaud wildly.

He pays no attention to this applause.

He clears his throat and begins to speak. Priscilla is so deafened by the roar of his voice that she cannot hear what he says. Apparently he is introducing somebody; somebody named George.

George steps out of the tent, but does not bow to the audience. In one hand he carries a fencing foil, well constructed, of European workmanship; in his other hand he holds a number of pretty toy balloons which he has made himself.

He smiles sarcastically, tosses the balloons into the air, and cleverly punctures them one by one with his rapier.

At each "pop" the announcer blows a loud blast on the fog horn.

When the last balloon has been punctured George retires without acknowledging the applause of the Indians.

The next act is announced as Helen of Troy in "Six Minutes of Beauty". Priscilla learns from the announcer that "this little lady is out of ’Irony’ by Theodore Dreiser".

"All ready, Helen—"

The "little lady" appears.

She is somewhat over six feet six in height and built like a boilermaker. She is dressed in pink tights.

"Six Minutes of Beauty" begins when Helen picks up three large iron cannon balls and juggles them. She tosses them in the air and catches them cleverly on the back of her neck.

The six minutes are brought to a successful conclusion when Helen, hanging head downward by one foot from a trapeze, balances lighted lamp on the other foot and plays Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on the slide trombone.

The announcer then begins his lecture. Priscilla has by this time gotten used to the overpowering roar of his voice and she discovers that once this difficulty is overcome she is tremendously impressed by his words.

She becomes more and more attracted to the man. She listens, fascinated, as his lecture draws to a close and he offers his medicine for sale. She presses forward through the crowd of Indians surrounding the stand. She reaches the tent. She gives her coin and receives in return a bottle. She hides it in her cape and hurries home.

She slips in the back way; she pours some of the medicine into a glass; she drinks it.


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Chicago: Donald Ogden Stewart, "IV," A Parody Outline of History, ed. Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934 and trans. Boswell, Robert Bruce in A Parody Outline of History (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed February 9, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8ERCJQUANQFD7G2.

MLA: Stewart, Donald Ogden. "IV." A Parody Outline of History, edited by Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934, and translated by Boswell, Robert Bruce, in A Parody Outline of History, Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 9 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8ERCJQUANQFD7G2.

Harvard: Stewart, DO, 'IV' in A Parody Outline of History, ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, A Parody Outline of History, A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 9 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8ERCJQUANQFD7G2.