Unpublished Dr. Seuss manuscript reveals author’s doubts, new word.
By: Mike Krumboltz
Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was even more prolific than we thought. The beloved author of “Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” (a required gift for every college graduate) also penned the beginning of another book that never saw the light of day. The unfinished manuscript for “All Sorts of Sports” recently went up for auction and fetched an impressive sum.
The 19-page manuscript, in which a wishy-washy athlete named Pete tries a hundred different sports, dates back to the ’60s and sold for $34,004 to an undisclosed buyer. According to the auction house, the first seven pages of the manuscript were handwritten by Seuss, while the remaining pages were penned by an assistant. Doodles by Seuss were also included. According to NPR, the good doctor’s writing assistant had possession of it before deciding to put it up for auction.
Dr. Seuss scholars will be interested to see a new made-up word from the book: “blumf.” “What am I going to do today. Well, that’s a simple matter. Oh, that’s easy. We could play. There are so many sports games to play. We could swim. I could play baseball … golf … or catch. Or I could play a tennis match. There are so many sports, let’s see. … I could bowl, jump hurdles, or water ski. I could blumf. Or blumf blumf blumf blumf blumf. Or blumf. Or blumf blumf blumf blumf blumf.”
“Blumf” was either a placeholder word or a particularly odd sport.
But, wait! There’s more! An included letter from Dr. Seuss to his assistant makes for interesting reading. Seuss was displeased with the work, and especially the main character, Pete. In the letter, he explains why he never seriously pursued its publication. “What, in my opinion, is wrong with this story is that … despite the greatness of Pete as a stellar athlete hero … the negative image of him flubbing and unable to catch any ball at all will make him schnook… And I think the reader’s reaction will be, ‘What’s the matter with this dope?’ ”
The L.A. Times points out that it may have been this bit of self-editing on the part of Seuss that set him apart. Clearly, he was good enough to know that not everything he wrote was worthy of his name.