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I am a professor of English and scholar of 20th-Century drama, and am currently writing on Tristan Tzara’s typographical “Dance” interpellated into his play The Gas Heart (1923). In reading Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media (1964), I’ve found a potentially useful quotation attributed to Beatrice Warde, which McLuhan cites only as having come from a work called ALPHABET. The quotation—famous and often re-quoted, citing McLuhan, begins: “Do you wonder that I was late for the theatre that night when I tell you I saw two club-footed Egyptian A’s … walking off arm-in-arm with the unmistakable swagger of a music hall comedy team?” I believe Warde’s insights can shed light on Tzara’s work.
McLuhan, sadly, does not include Warde’s work in his bibliography for Understanding Media, and online sources quoting Warde’s passage cite McLuhan. I wonder if you could inform me of the source of this quotation, including the full bibliographic information for the work from which it is supposed to have been drawn? Research databases to which my university library subscribes do not list a work by Beatrice Ward titled “Alphabet.” It is, perhaps, a journal title, but even so, I find no results using electronic resources. Thank you,
Craig N. Owens, PhD
Professor of English