Thursday, August 16, 2007


One of my students quoted Lars Eighner saying that his popular essay "On DumpsterDiving" had become a chestnut.

the essay "On Dumpster Diving" became an instant chestnut, being reprinted in a half dozen college literature texts, several literary anthologies, and numerous periodicals including Harper's Magazine, [According to Lars Eignner's CV]
I asked the student to explain that statement, which would have been very easy. For example, "Online Etymology Dictionary"defines chestnut (final definition) as:
Slang sense of "venerable joke or story" is from 1886, probably from a joke (first recorded 1888) based on an oft-repeated story in which a chestnut tree figures. The key part of the 1888 citation is:
"When suddenly from the thick boughs of a cork-tree --"
"A chestnut, Captain; a chestnut."
"Bah! booby, I say a cork-tree!"
"A chestnut," reiterates Pablo. "I should know as well as you, having heard you tell the tale these twenty-seven times."
And I was disappointed that my student didn't find this. Oh well.

ps: Here's a picture of a chestnut from

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