And the winner is…
The panel* was very impressed with the level of all the entries, and congratulates all who took part. Candidates might have scored higher marks for mentioning the Iraq war or the works of Jacques Derrida, but this did not detract from the generally high standard. Sadly, there can only be one winner, so here are the comments in reverse order.
In third place, Daddy’s Little Demon. A good piece which captured much of the LRB’s style – but failed somehow to convey the smugness of the original. For future reference, name-checking Derrida or Lacan would have carried more marks than Maslow, who is now seen as very pre-post-modern.
In second place, Disgruntled. The piece showed great self-confidence but was too short for the panel to judge whether the tone could be sustained over a longer composition. Also, although the use of the word “bildungsroman” greatly impressed the panel, a true LRB author could never begin a German noun with a lower-case letter: the pedantic urge would be too strong.
In first place, Heather. A fluid piece, effortlessly using many LRB favourites (like “signifier and signified” and “cultural paradigm”) and most accurately capturing the spirit of the original. It may be asked whether Heather, like Disgruntled, should lose marks for spelling “zeitgeist” without a capital. However, the New Oxford Dictionary of English still treats “Bildungsroman” as a German word (with capital) while “zeitgeist” has now been naturalised long enough to be spelled without a capital. Therefore, the use of the word in an actual LRB article would spark a fruitful exchange of correspondence between lexicographers, Germanists and assorted pedants, which could spread over several subsequent issues of the Review. It can therefore be seen as the icing on the cake of this audacious effort.
The winner is Heather.
*Mr Waffle – who took a break from cleaning up vomit to write this – more of which anon.