Monty Python's Big Red Book
"Monty Python's Big Red Book"
Editor: Eric Idle
Publisher: Eyre Methuen
Publication Date: 1971 (Hardcover); 1972 (Paperback)
Combined with "The Brand New Monty Python Papperbok" and reissued, under the titles "The Complete Works of Shakespeare and Monty Python: Vol. 1 - Monty Python" (1981) and "The Monty Python Gift Boks" (1986).
The Pythons' first book ingeniously captured the spirit of the series, while also playing with the parameters of a printed book. Despite the title, it has little in common with Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book" (or even with the color red).
ITN Newsreader Forewords; Classified Ads; Ken Shabby & Rosemary – A True Love Story of Our Times; "Why Accountancy Is Not Boring," by Mr. A. Putey; Naughty Pages; An election guide to the Silly Party's roster of candidates; A report on the Batley Townswomen's Guild's Productions; E.D. Silly's Page; "Spam Song"; Poetry; The World Encyclopedia of Carnal Knowledge; Australian Page; Children's Story; "Blackmail!"; "Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong!"; A New Version of "The Importance of Being Earnest"; A Souvenir Photo of Sir Kenneth Clark; Le Pouff Celebre; Madam Palm Writes; The Family Tree of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern …; Radio Times Report on the Upper Class Twit of the Year Competition; "Lumberjack Song"; Do-It-Yourself Story; Goats' Page; "Old Boys" Nazis; Whizzo Chocolates; Selections from the Hungarian-English Phrasebook; Johnson's Novelties; How to Walk Silly; Be a Modern Hermit; The Poems of Ewen McTeagle; The Piranha Brothers; Python Literary Guild.
The Making of
The challenge of adopting television sketches to print form was especially attractive to Eric Idle, who was contacted by Methuen about the possibility of a Python book. He took on the job of editor.
Derek Birdsall and Katy Hepburn were responsible for the graphic design and layout, incorporating many of Gilliam's illustrations.
Because the design of the fake newspaper pages and advertisements is so close to the real thing, the humor is as successful as when the TV series accurately mimics the "real" TV programmes it is parodying.
The book sold out its first two printings within two weeks, and vaulted onto the bestseller lists. To date it has sold more than a half-million copies.
At least one reader of "Big Red Book" was not laughing. While libel laws might protect the humorist from the victims of his parody, copyright laws are another matter. Shortly after the book's release, the Pythons received a letter of complaint from a music publisher whose trade names had been borrowed to give the Python's sheet music for "Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong" an extra degree of verisimilitude. To avoid an injunction against sales, the sheet music pages underwent a revision in all subsequent copies.
By David Morgan, 2014