Title: Uncle Stories
Published: Red Fox, 2000
Purchased: Brian Ameringen, 2004-05-01, £3.00
Not quite as old as the previous book - this is a compendium volume comprising the 1964 Uncle and the 1965 Uncle Cleans Up.
I didn't encounter these when I was young, and I feel somewhat cheated, because they're wonderful. I've been hearing about them for years from Peter Morwood and Diane Duane, who named their domain Owlsprings.com after one of the places in here, and named one of their cats after one of the characters.
Like the best children's stories, it is surreal. Uncle is an Elephant. A very rich one, who owns a castle comprising hundreds of sky scrapers linked by chutes and railways and stairs and so on. He has thousands of dwarves as tenants. Monkeys and lions and badgers and more. Parts of this home (Homeward) he has never yet visited. And the other side of the moat is Badfort, filled with a small horde of jealous enemies whose sole purpose in life is to overthrow the autocrat.
I really can't see this as being written much later than it was. The political and economic undertones are quite weird in their way - Uncle is an autocrat, a benign plutocrat, and in some respects, my sympathies go somewhat to the Badfort crowd, in the same way as they go to the Mayor in the Don Camillo stories.
In all, though, quite glorious, and well worth the money.