Friday, July 19, 2019

A Rosetta By Any Other Name

cover of "Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo!"
On this day in 1799, the discovery of the Rosetta Stone was formally reported by Michel Ange Lancret to the Institut D'Egypte, a newly formed scientific organization that had been created by Napoleon for the express purpose of conducting research during his campaign in Northern Africa. The stone was discovered near what is now the Egyptian port city of Rashid and has proved invaluable in the translation of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, which had been inscrutable to Western scholars until this moment. Sadly, here in Special Collections, we don't have access to this sort of linguistic miracle. However, we do have our own Rosetta Stone of sorts.

Biographical notes inside the front cover of Stone bookAmong the numerous volumes in our Alumni collection is a children's bookwritten by "Rosetta Stone" and illustrated by Michael Frith. The book, titled Because a Little Bug Went Ka-choo!, was printed in 1975 by Random House as a part of its Beginner Books imprint. So, why do we have a book by Ms. Stone in our Alumni collection? Well, Beginner Books was founded in 1957 by Phyllis Cerf, Ted Geisel '25, and Helen Palmer Geisel. The first book published under that imprint was The Cat in the Hat. Whenever Ted Geisel illustrated his own works, he went by the well-known pen name "Dr. Seuss." However, when he wrote the books but didn't draw them, he went by pseudonyms. Perhaps his best-known one is Theo LeSeig, under which he wrote no less than thirteen books. However, he also wrote a single book as Rosetta Stone, which we have here in Special Collections.

One of Geisel's early cartoons from the Jacko-O-Lantern attributed to "T. Seuss."
As we've mentioned before, Geisel's habit of using playful pseudonyms for his work began during his senior year here at Dartmouth. He had run into a spot of trouble with the administration over a bottle of gin that appeared at a party he was hosting, and was henceforth stripped of extracurricular privileges. At the time, Geisel was the editor-in-chief of the Jack-O-Lantern (the student satire magazine). He promptly disregarded the administrative proclamation and instead continued to contribute drawings and cartoons to the magazine under a variety of fanciful names that included the use of his middle name, Seuss.

To take a look at the only Rosetta Stone we'll ever own, and the only book ever authored by Geisel under that pen name, come to Special Collections and ask for Alumni G277bec. All of the issues of the Jack-O-Lantern are on the reference shelves in the Reading Room if you'd like to see his student illustrations.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Targeted Hate

Cover of "Long Live the Kaiser"When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the propaganda machines clicked on. Here is an interesting little example created by the American Press Humorists. Long Live the Kaiser! claims to "have no quarrel with the German people, or the American people of German birth or ancestry," in fact, they assert that they "love" the Germans, except for one exception: the Kaiser.

While you have to admire the gesture toward the German people, the violence directed toward the Kaiser is a bit disturbing. On the book jacket he is headed to a certain fate in hell, and it just gets more brutal inside with cartoons and doggerel verses which all manner of harm on Wilhelm II. To see for yourself ask for Val 817R543 S85.