Albert Weisgerber’s Grimm Fairy Tales

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Following yesterday’s artwork by Andrea Dezsö, some illustrations from a German edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales from around 1900. Albert Weisgerber (1878–1915) was more of a fine artist than a jobbing illustrator—Alfred Kubin was a friend—but some of his drawings appeared in Jugend magazine as well as this book. The heavy shading and blocks of colour are reminiscent of the Beggarstaffs, while the illustration choices don’t avoid the darker moments of the tales, as with the picture of Gretel pushing the witch into the oven. 50 Watts has some of Weisgerber’s other drawings. Browse the book here or download it here.

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Moravagine book covers

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First publication, Grasset, 1926.

I should have liked to open all cages, all zoos, all prisons, all lunatic asylums, see the great wild ones liberated and study the development of an unheard-of kind of human life…

Recent reading was Moravagine (1926) by Blaise Cendrars, a novel that resists easy summary. It’s a Modernist work to some extent although the prose (a good translation from the French by Alan Brown) is never unorthodox in style; it’s also scabrous, amoral, misogynist and deeply misanthropic. The narrative is a picaresque affair narrated by a young doctor who frees the mysterious Moravagine from an asylum where he’s been imprisoned for many years. “Moravagine” is an adopted name whose origin and meaning is never addressed, although a French reader would find a rather unavoidable pun on “death by vagina”. Moravagine himself is an otherwise unnamed member of the Hungarian royal family, a dwarfish intellectual psychopath with a bad leg who goes on the run with the doctor, first to pre-revolutionary Russia, then to the United States and South America.

Reviewers have compared the book to Beckett, Céline and Burroughs although it’s much lighter reading than the first two, and the prose is more coherent than Burroughs in cut-up mode. Since we’ve been hearing a lot about the First World War this year it’s tempting to read the book as a kind of Dadaist reaction to Cendrars’ own experiences in the war, even though the entirety of the conflict is dispensed with in two pages. Cendrars appears as a character in the later chapters; he lost an arm in the war so he has his narrator lose a leg while Moravagine loses his reason altogether. At the end of the book he’s found imprisoned in another asylum where he believes he’s an inhabitant of the planet Mars, and where he spends his last months writing a huge, apocalyptic account of how the world will be in the year 2013.

All this, of course, presents a challenge for a cover designer. I have two Penguin editions, both with very different covers, neither of them unsuitable. Curiosity impelled me to see how the book has been treated since 1926. There aren’t many editions but their difference shows the difficulty of trying to encapsulate the contents of this strange novel in a graphic form. The selection here has avoided text-only treatments in favours of those using some form of illustration.

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Le Livre de Poche, 1957.

In an early chapter Moravagine describes fleeing the imperial household by strapping himself to a horse. Without knowing this narrative detail the painting here seems bizarrely arbitrary.

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Editora Ulisseia, Portugal, 1966.

The horses again, with Moravagine strapped underneath one of them. I’d guess the illustrators of these two books didn’t read very far.

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First UK edition, Peter Owen, 1968.

Peter Owen commissioned the first English translation which is still in use today.

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Weekend links 220

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Untitled painting by Aleksandra Waliszewska.

• Ben Wheatley’s forthcoming film of High-Rise by JG Ballard now has its own Tumblr. This will no doubt be spoilerific so I won’t keep on visiting but it’s there if you require it. More Ballardianism: “Worshipping the Crash” at BLDGBLOG.

• “Aickman wandered through the sixties fantasy landscape like some curmudgeonly fetch, returning from the fin de siècle heyday of the ghost story.” Boyd Tonkin profiles Robert Aickman, writer of peerless “strange stories”.

• At Dangerous Minds: “Raise a glass to Cthulhu at the Lovecraft Bar”. Looks more like a Captain Nemo bar to me (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but I appreciate the gesture.

But to demand that a work be “relatable” expresses a different expectation: that the work itself be somehow accommodating to, or reflective of, the experience of the reader or viewer. The reader or viewer remains passive in the face of the book or movie or play: she expects the work to be done for her.

Rebecca Mead on The Scourge of Relatability

• “Space as a paranoid, static rumble featuring: 20jfg, Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason, Coil & Eduard Artemiev”. 20 Jazz Funk Greats on the pleasures of the Solaris soundtrack.

• What do Hawkwind, Harry Nilsson, Stereolab and The Supremes have in common? David Stubbs examines the legacy of Neu! and Klaus Dinger’s “Dingerbeat”.

• A reminder that A Year in the Country features a host of worthwhile links and associations for the Hauntologically persuaded.

Rouge Louboutin, an ad by David Lynch. Related: An improptu biscuit ad by the Eccentronic Research Council.

• Mix of the week (a year old but no matter): JG Ballard Zoom Lens Mix by Bernholz.

• At 50 Watts: More illustrated sheet music covers by Einar Nerman.

Five book cover designers and the books that inspire them.

Tove Jansson would have been 100 this week.

Pangaea with modern borders

Solaris: Dream (1990) by Edward Artemyev [sic] | Solaris (2000) by Photek | Simulacra I (2011) by Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason

Walpurgisnacht

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Walpurgisnacht (1917) by Amadeus.

April 30th gives me an opportunity to repost this drawing by “Amadeus” which could easily have come from an underground magazine of the late 60s. The works below are some of the many Faust-related illustrations at GoetheZeitPortal, a great resource although it helps if you can read a little German to navigate. This page has more Hexentanz scenes, while the complete series of Franz Xaver Simm’s academic illustrations may be seen here. Over at 50 Watts there’s Stefan Eggeler’s illustrations for Gustav Meyrink’s Walpurgisnacht (1917).

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Walpurgisnacht (1897) by Albert Welti.

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Walpurgisnacht (1899) by Franz Xaver Simm.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Luis Ricardo Falero, 1851–1896
Weel done, Cutty-sark!

Weekend links 207

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Chthonic Cities by David Chatton Barker. One of a series of Folklore Tapes screenprints available from Bleep.

• The original version of Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising, the one with the Jimmy Page soundtrack that was completed in 1973, has always been described as lost/stolen/buried or otherwise gone forever. So you’d think the news that a print had been discovered recently by Brian Butler would have received greater attention. There’s a screening in Los Angeles this Thursday. When do the rest of us get to see it?

Chris Marker: A Grin Without a Cat, an exhibition and series of Marker-related events at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. Related: The Encounter of M. Chat & Chris Marker as Told By Louise Traon.

• The trailer for The Gospel According to St Derek, a forthcoming documentary about Derek Jarman. Related: Carl Swanson on why Tilda Swinton is not quite of this world.

Maybe there’s just something conservative at the bedrock of American fiction. […] Or maybe it’s just another symptom of the creeping conservatism that’s infected so many aspects of the culture.

Eric Obenauf talks to author Jeff Jackson whose comments about cultural conservatism could equally be applied to the UK.

• Primitive graphics, inventive graphics, budget Surrealism, and some great theme tunes; it’s Trunk TV, Episode 1: Title Sequences.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 110 by Black To Comm, and Intro To Drone For Debcon 1, almost 7 hours of music!

Joseph Burnett reviews Ett, an album of electronic music by Klara Lewis.

The Delian Mode (2009), a film about Delia Derbyshire by Kara Blake.

• Extracts from Tokyo Reverse by Simon Bouisson and Ludovic Zuili.

Dan Piepenbring on The Haunting Illustrations of Alfred Kubin.

• At Strange Flowers: Photos of arcades by Germaine Krull.

• Fish, Fiends, and Fantasy: The Gothic Art of Ian Miller.

• At 50 Watts: Richard Teschner and His Puppets.

• Sonic Foam: Ian Penman on Kate Bush and Coil.

Bits and Pieces

Lucifer (1968) by The Salt | Experiment IV (1986) by Kate Bush | Methoxy-N, N-Dimethyl (5-MeO-DMT) (1998) by Coil