Friday, September 7, 2018

An Obstetric View of Orozco

Page from Modern Medicine showing Orozco muralWhen Orozco first painted his famous murals in Baker Library, the reception was decidedly mixed in the national press. Some loved the murals (most notably Lewis Mumford in the New Republic), some marveled that a bastion of capitalism would commission a communist to decorate its library, and some just didn't quite know what to make of the murals. Modern Medicine, though, saw it all as a joke, and their use of the murals was so campy (and, well, dumb), we just had to share it.

They illustrated the section of their May 1934 issue devoted to the latest advances in Gynecology & Obstetrics with Panel 15, "The Gods of the Modern World." They renamed it "Childbirth of Ideas" and gave it the following caption:
The skeleton in labor, bedded on books & giving birth to another scholar, born with a mortar-board on his head (rather than a gold spoon in his mouth) is the sardonic obstetric conception of 51-year-old modern, "unmannered" Mexican muralist, José Clemente Orozco. Grim accoucheurs, supervising the perpetuation of their fleshless species, are pictured pundits of the chaotic modern world.
They must have thought themselves so clever--you can just see those old doctors chortling away.

As part of New Student Orientation, Saturday, September 8th, from 10:15-1:00, Rauner Library will be part of the Shared Academic Experience where students will visit the murals with Professor Mary Coffey and then come over to Rauner Library to see archival films, Orozco's original sketches from the Hood Museum, and examples of how the murals were received by Dartmouth students and alumni, as well as by fuddy-duddy OB-GYNs in the 1930s.

You can find a series of newspaper and magazine articles on the murals by asking for DL-34, Box 8865 and Box 6122.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Eastern Tales for Western Kids

Walking through the stacks in search of something to post to our Instagram account always reveals a something new and exciting. Just last week, while hunting for interesting books from the 80’s (of any century), I found The Silly Jellyfish, a children’s book from the 1880’s printed on Japanese crepe paper, or chirimen-gami. After a little digging, I found 8 more of these beautiful crepe-paper books,chirimen-bon, printed entirely on the intricately textured paper.

Cover of "The Boy Who Drew Cats," showing a boy drawing a cat.These translated Japanese fairy tales were originally printed by Takejiro Hasegawa beginning in the mid 1880s and into the early 20th century. He predominantly sold to a Western market as souvenirs and eventually exports. Each one is beautifully bound and illustrated. These publications were incredibly popular for children because they are more durable. The stories in our collections range from tales about goblins and ogres to crabs warring with monkeys. My favorite is The Boy Who Drew Cats, translated by Lafcadio Hearn, a fairy tale about a little boy who gets into trouble for drawing cats instead of studying, but his illustrations eventually come to life to defeat a giant goblin.

To read The Boy Who Drew Cats, just ask for Rare PZ8 .H35 B6 1898 cop. 2. For our other chirimen-bon, ask for Rare GR 340 .B38, Rare GR340 .O48, Rare PZ8 .H35 C6 1903, Rare PZ8 .H35 G6 1899, Rare PZ8 .H35 O4 1902, Rare PZ8 .M43 1896, Rare PZ8 .J27 no. 7b and Rare PZ8 .S56 1887.  For more incredible Instagram finds, check us out at