Thursday, October 29, 2020

Illustrating Bluebeard

Bluebeard's wife looks around as she begins to unlock the door.
Here’s a horror story for you: a French nobleman seeks a bride, but struggles due to his unsightly blue beard and a string of missing wives. Eventually, he is able to woo a young woman and bring her back to his estate as his new wife. After a month of marriage, he declares that he must go away on business, leaving her with a ring of keys and an interdiction. She can go wherever she likes and entertain to her heart’s content, but she must not use the littlest key on the ring. It opens a closet on the ground floor and nothing awaits her there but her husband’s “just anger and disappointment.” After some time, the young bride is overcome by her curiosity and unlocks the door, where she finds the bodies of her murdered predecessors. When her husband discovers that she has failed his test, she is only spared their fate by some stalling and the timely arrival of her brothers, who kill her husband in turn.
Bluebeard, a fairy tale first published in Charles Perrault’s 1697 Histoires du temps passé, ou, Les contes de ma Mère l'Oye, better known as Mother Goose, has been retold over and over again, deeply affecting the development of the gothic and horror genres. Its influence pervades classics like Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Fritz Lang’s The Secret Beyond the Door, as well as more recent texts, including Crimson Peak and Ex Machina.
A caricature of Bluebeard handing the keys to his wife.
Rauner Library’s collection of illustrated versions of Bluebeard also highlights a curious trend: how Bluebeard, a French fairy tale, became increasingly Orientalized over time. When the first literary version was published, the accompanying illustrations showed its characters in European dress. They were also largely unnamed, with the exception of the “Bluebeard” moniker and the new bride’s sister Anne. At some point in adaptation, however, the bride gains the Arabic name Fatima, and the story begins to take on an exoticized aspect. In an 1805 English language version, the entire story is relocated to an ambiguously Eastern setting. In others, like William Makepeace Thackeray’s The Awful History of Bluebeard (1924), Bluebeard himself is the focus of the change, while everything else remains fairly European. Edmund Dulac (1882-1953), one of the great artists of the Golden Age of Illustration, also had to have his two cents. His take on Bluebeard, featured in The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales from the Old French, is located “in a city not far from Baghdad.” Even Arthur Rackham, whose work is overall less interested in the Orientalism of his peers, was apparently unable to resist the racist allure of imperiling a beautiful woman in an imagined East. 

Bluebeard brandishes a scimitar.
This translocation by tale-tellers and illustrators leaves a lot to be desired. The inconsistent mish-mash of European design sensibilities with an interest in and fear of the Orient is by no means exclusive to Bluebeard, but it is a specific and somewhat puzzling case study. The standard lineup of historical figures cited by folklorists as possible influences on the oral folktale, like Gilles de Rais and Henry VIII, is not exactly foreign. And while the story is gruesome enough that it could have made some uncomfortable to think of as so close to home, Bluebeard is no more horrific than many other fairy tales that didn’t receive the same treatment.What do you think? Check out some of the Rauner’s many illustrated variants, including Rare Book PQ1877 .C513 1785, Sine Illus D86sleb, Sine Illus C366fai, Illus R115 afb, 1926 Coll B587n 1805, and Sine Illus C527fai.

Monday, September 21, 2020

College in the time of COVID

Foldout record of the deaths from the front of Hodges's book
As the first full term of the pandemic begins here at Dartmouth College, we are taking the opportunity to reflect back on the somewhat morbid but always fascinating history of global pandemics that our collections harbor. In particular, we've been thinking about the London plague of 1665, the smallpox outbreak in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War, and the misnomered "Spanish" flu of 1918. Although the bubonic plague ravaged London a mere one hundred and three years before Dartmouth was founded, the smallpox and flu outbreaks are "recent" enough to have had an effect on student life in Hanover.

Our post today isn't so much original content as it is a looking back to previous blog entries about these diseases and a glance forward into the possibilities of the current term. Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year, while a fascinating read, also relied heavily upon the writing of Nathanial Hodges's Loimologia: or an Historical Account of the Plague in London in 1665. In addition to narrative accounts, we also have a gathering of weeklybroadsides that indicate the number of deaths per week and their causes during 1665, when the plague was at its height.

Prescription for a purgative in preparation for inoculation from the late 1700s
With regard to pandemic impact upon the Dartmouth campus, we have correspondence related to a group of students seeking inoculation from the virus, a risky venture given the possibility of actually succumbing to the terrible disease. More than a century later, Clifford Orr, a member of Dartmouth's class of 1918, would write home to his mother about how the flu was sweeping across campus. While thinking about these past virulent visits, we wondered about what sorts of experiences current students might document during this coming term, and whether any of those documents might make their way into the archives as well some day.

With that in mind, this post is also a bit of self-promotion. Today, September 21st, I'll join Sarah Smith, from the Book Arts Workshop, for a fascinating look at journals created during times of crisis and pandemic. First, I'll showcase some books from Rauner Library that recount the London plague, then follow with original manuscripts that Dartmouth students wrote during the colonial smallpox outbreak and the 1918 flu. Then, Sarah Smith will help students make their own journals using materials from around the house. Instructions for making a simple book are found online on the Book Arts Workshop’s resource guide here. Feel free to make your own journal using her advice and start writing down your own journal of a plague year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

From νόστος / nostos to nostalgia

The Ulysses Etchings of Robert Motherwell
The Ulysses Etchings of Robert Motherwell
Motherwell, Robert, David. Hayman,
and James Joyce.
San Francisco: Arion Press, 1988.
"Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean."
(Excerpt from "Ithaka" / C.P. Cavafy ; trans. E. Keeley)
James Joyce Wavewords : from Ulysses
James Joyce Wavewords: from Ulysses.
Hellmann, Margery S., and James Joyce.
Seattle, Wash: Windowpane Press, 1996.

 "I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name"

Excerpt from "Ulysses"
Alfred Tennyson.
Seven Poems and Two Translations
Hammersmith: Doves Press, 1902.

See also "Ulysses" Alfred Tennyson. Poems, London: E. Moxon, 1842

Circe from After Flaxman
The Odyssey of Homer
After Flaxman, John and William Blake
London: Longman, Hurst, Rees & Orme, 1805.

Ulyyses and  Diomedes are condemned to the Eigth Circle
Ulysses and Diomedes are condemned to the Eighth Circle.
Inspired from Dante Alighieri, Henry Francis Cary, and William Blake.
The Inferno from La Divina Commedia of Dante Alighieri
New York: Printed by Richard W. Ellis for Cheshire house, 1931.

Colophon to Vlyssea, 1524
Homer. Batrachomyomachia. Hymni. XXXII.
Venetiis: [In aedibvs Aldi, et Andreae Asvlani soceri mense aprili], 1524

See also: Odysses

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Mise en Abyme: Zooming in on Visual Pleasure

You Are Not Alone drawing from Social Me by Sofia Szamosi
Szamosi, Sofia.
Social Me

"There is the satisfaction of being able to look at the image without flinching. There is the pleasure of flinching." (Regarding the pain of others / Sontag, Susan)

Social Me - cover

"My social media box set documents my various attempts over the last two years to understand my complicated relationship to social media and the hidden forces that drive it." (Szamosi, Sofia. Social Me : Sofia Szamosi's Social Media Box Set. New York, New York: Sofia Szamosi, 2018.)

Instagram drawing from Social Me
"Drawing instagram posts is a way for me to re-contextualize and digest images that intrigue or confuse me. I change the medium to give new light and space to these images and words, and unlock layers of meaning."

Food image from Social Me
"Many of the women featured in the Girls on Instagram series are friends who volunteered their posts. Many others are strangers who I found searching through hashtags."

"The word 'girl,' so often pejorative and infantilizing, I use purposefully - the women in my collections are performing girl-dom on a platform that validates their performance. I am interested in the many ways of being and performing 'girl' within the context of social media, how those performances are encouraged and propagated, and how they may be limiting, empowering, or something in between." 

Covers for Girls and Their Food, Girls and Their Bodies, and Girls Making Faces

See also: Szamosi, Sofia. #Metoo on Instagram : One Year Later.  New York, N.Y: Sofia Szamosi, 2018.

Image frm Snitch by Shan Agid
Agid, Shana. Snitch

"Snitch is a pop-up book about surveillance. More specifically, it is about the ways people talk about it and how. This continues even as many people resist some forms of surveillance. We help it operate every day. While the explosion of new surveillance in recent years is daunting, this book focuses on long-standing, common-sense ideas about what we should be afraid of, and how that helps sell the idea that expected forms of surveillance make us safer." (Booklyn website)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Bad Boys & Girls: Neither Outsider Art nor Marginal Art

Image of Kim Kardashian with white overlay
Cancelled Kim

Tebbe, Felice and Kardashian, Kim. Not Once : I Am Selfish. New York: Booklyn, 2017. 

"This is about a theft of a book from an exhibition at a not-for-profit for book arts. This book was stolen. It was in an exhibition honoring its publisher. The question here is, who is the artist of Kim's selfish book? Is it the lady who belabored 509 pages? Or is it the surgeon who made the first & the latest cuts into Kim's skin? Or, was it her domineering mother/manager, or the magazine editors, a.k.a., Anna Wintour? Is she the cutter of Kim's skin? Or, is it Kim's own thirst for fame? Who is the true designer of her surgeries? Kim is a cutter of her own skin, she just hires surgeons to cut her." -- Felice Tebbe, 2017 (Booklyn website).

Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and others with white overlays


Images from Homoerotic Art of Pavel Tchelitchev

Tchelitchew, Pavel, and  Leddick,David. The Homoerotic Art of Pavel Tchelitchev, 1929-1939 . United States : Asphodel Editions, 2000.

"Certain acts dazzle us and light up blurred surfaces if our eyes are keen enough to see them in a flash, for the beauty of a living thing can be grasped only fleetingly. To pursue it during its changes leads us inevitably to the moment when it ceases, for it cannot last a lifetime. And to analyze it, that is, to pursue it in time with the sight and the imagination, is to view it in its decline, for after the thrilling moment in which it reveals itself it diminishes in intensity. I have lost that child's face." -- Genet, Miracle of the Rose.


Let's Play!: Composite image with three pages - title page, A Creative Genius, Fun For Everyone

Duyck, Chip. Let’s Play! : Coloring and Activity Book, Based on the Life of Jean Genet . New York: Picture Books, 2005.

"An unlikely character for a coloring book, Jean Genet has never looked more friendly and approachable than he does in Let's Play!. Drawn in the simplified cartoon style of so many "educational" books for children, the robberies, prison stints, gambling tables, beggars, lice, and tattoos pictured on these pages teach children about a world beyond the reach of their scribbling scrabbling crayons." See also: Off coloring book.


Title Page and first page of My Thieving

Duyck, Chip. M[y] Thieving [journal] : a Story of Jean Genet. New York: Picture Books, 2005.

"Jean Genet has spoken to me with surprising lucidity about life, love and morality. He saw beauty in the grotesque and elevated it to the status of a diamond. When I look through this diamond, I see life with a unique clarity and brilliance." -- Chip Duyck (Booklyn web site)

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Haptics: The Terrain Between Accessible Design and Universal Design

Atlas of the United States - title page

Image of title page from the Atlas of the United States : printed for the use of the blind by S.G. Howe. Rare Book G1200 .H7 1837

Map of New Hampshire in Boston Line Type

Image of a map of New Hampshire printed without ink in Boston Line Type. 

Needlework - Sentiments

Image of needlework from a collection with text: "Sentiments, signed." Manuscript 001924 See also: Laura Bridgman hand work (doilies, carving): MS-1207. Hanover (N.H.) Historical Society records, folder 17, box 23.

Laura Bridgman

Image of Laura Bridgman. Laura Bridgman and S.G. Howe worked extensively together, including at the Perkins School for the Blind.

Consider: Touch This Page

'Perkins Archives partnered with Northeastern and Harvard Universities to create "Touch This Page! Making Sense of the Ways We Read," an exhibition about multisensory experiences of reading. The exhibit focuses on the work of Perkins founder Samuel Gridley Howe, who developed a tactile form of the print alphabet known as Boston Line Type. Included on the website are 3D printed copies of Perkins Archives artifacts that are available for download.'

Citation: Special Issue on Tactile Fluency. Future Reflections, volume 38, number 2 (2019). National Federation of the Blind. National Organization of Parents of Blind Children.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

I Like the Cut of Your Jib: Fathom & Fetish, Illustrated Editions of Moby Dick

Call Me Ishamel in Emojis
Pixelation & Material Textuality:
Prosumer and Peer Production.

Emoji Dick, or, The whale / by Herman Melville ; edited and compiled by Fred Benenson ; translation by Amazon Mechanical Turk.  "Emoji Dick is a crowd sourced and crowd funded translation of Herman Melville's Moby Dick into Japanese emoticons called emoji. Each of the book's approximately 10,000 sentences has been translated three times by an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker. These results have been voted upon by another set of workers and the most popular version of each sentence has been selected for inclusion in this book. In total, over eight hundred people spent approximately 3,795,980 seconds working to create this book. Each worker was paid five cents per translation and two cents per vote per translation. The funds to pay the Amazon Turk workers and print the initial run of this book were from eighty three people over the course of thirty days using the funding platform Kickstarter."--About this book.

What The White Whale Was to Ahab in Emojis
Poe’s Law or Digimodernism?


Seeing histories in the literary canon:

The first London edition, The whale (title-page) / The whale; or, Moby Dick (half-title page), published in three volumes by Richard Bentley in October of 1851 was not illustrated, except for a whale, stamped in gold, on the spine. The first American edition, Moby-Dick; or, The whale published in one volume in November of 1851 by Harper and Brothers was not illustrated.

Neither a sperm whale, nor white: The first sighting of Moby Dick?

Several decades later, in the late 19th and early 20th century, four black-and-white illustrations designed by A. Burnham Shute were used in several of the earliest illustrated editions. Soon after, another four black-and-white illustrations by I.W. Taber were published for a Scribner’s illustrated edition. Twelve paintings by Mead Schaeffer were used for one of the earliest color-illustrated editions, around 1923. [Rauner holds each of the items mentioned in Seeing histories for you to explore].

Kent Rockwell illustration from Moby Dick showing Moby Dick beneath rowboat.
Deeper meanings
and body texts.
Moby Dick as a symbol
Hardcovers: Binding and meaning.
See also (unbound):
Collection of proofs of illustrations
for the Lakeside Press edition of
Moby Dick.

“...the unspeakable unspoken may reveal those texts to have deeper meaning, deeper and other power, deeper and other significances. One such writer, in particular, who has been almost impossible to keep under lock and key is Herman Melville.”--Page 139-140. "Unspeakable Things Unspoken" / Toni Morrison.

Cover from Barry Moser's Moby Dick
Dust jackets:
skins and wrappers.

A different tack: unmoored, aloof 😊

See also (Rauner blogs and exhibits):

Reference: Images of Moby-Dick. Department of Special Collections. University of Kansas. 1995.

Consider: Elizabeth Schultz. "The new art of Moby-Dick." Leviathan. Volume 21, Number 1, March 2019.