STL Science Center

STL Science Center

06 September 2012

Literary Popularity

Megalosaurus has not made much of a splash in the film world, though notable exceptions such as the television show Dinosaurs from the early 1990's do exist; anyone that has watched it knows that the show reminds us often through the voice of the father of the dinosaur family that Earl Sinclair is indeed "the mighty Megalosaurus." Aside from this show, though, few other shows exist which have shown Megalosaurus, the Dinosaur King cartoon being the only other show that I have definite knowledge of showing Megalosaurus at least once if not in America than at the very least in Japan. Megalosaurus actually appears prominently in literature more than it has on film. In the 1984 novel Carnosaur one of the main dinosaurs that is unleashed upon the world, in a genetic experiment gone awry a good six years before Jurassic Park was written, is a Megalosaurus. The author, John Brosnan, apparently holds little ill feelings toward the hit that Jurassic Park became though his novel came before and was quite similar. Today he gets the limelight though, because his novel featured a Megalosaurus where the other never even mentioned the dinosaur. Another novel which mentions Megalosaurus is actually almost 200 years old now. Between 1852 and 1853 Charles Dickens published a novel in series entitled Bleak House which featured the opening lines
Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.
Dickens was a master of the English language (and between the ages of 16 and 18 one of my greatest enemies though I will swear to the fact that my writing and speaking is much better for having to suffer through reading so many Victorian novels in high school) and his inclusion of a newly popular dinosaur in a Victorian novel is almost comical, but given the scientific and popular view of dinosaurs at the time it was written, this description of the weather is very powerful and, since it is mostly lost on us now that we have a different view of dinosaurs, is not distinctly understood to mean swampy and mucky like it did back when it was written. Still, well written and a good use of our poor old characterization of Megalosaurus.

Dickens, Charles, Bleak House, Project Gutenberg eBooks, 2012

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