Tenniel’s Fables

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Everyone knows John Tenniel’s illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, two volumes which have overshadowed the rest of his career. In addition to being a popular artist at Punch magazine Tenniel illustrated a number of other books including a collection of Aesop’s Fables in 1848. The copy from which these pictures are taken is a later edition from 1898, with text by Thomas James. The drawings lack the indelibly memorable quality of the Alice illustrations but that’s partly a result of the content which for Aesop is always going to lack the invention of Wonderland. Browse the rest of the book here or download it here.

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Continue reading “Tenniel’s Fables”

Weekend links 87

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Untitled art by Katie Scott.

“…the very fact that people cannot get published by the big-name publishers in the way that they used to has meant that you’ve got some really interesting and often really beautiful little small publishing houses that are springing up and coming into existence. And the stuff that they’re providing is actually a lot better. I’m thinking of people like Tartarus Press, Strange Attractor and various other commendable small publishers that do a beautiful job and that are producing books that are good to have on your bookshelf.”

Alan Moore discussing books old and new in a lengthy interview at Honest Publishing. In part two he takes to task hardboiled moron Frank Miller and offers his thoughts on the Occupy movement. Elsewhere the Guardian finally paid some attention to the importance of design in the book world. Some of us who do this for a living have been saying for years that if publishers want to see physical books thriving they need to maintain (or improve) the quality of their design and materials. Related: The Truth About Amazon Publishing, Laura Hazard Owen at paidContent examines some the figures behind Amazon’s PR.

• “Tenniel argued for several changes to the characters as conceived by Carroll. The croquet mallets are ostriches in the original drawings, and the hoops are footmen bent over with the tails of their coats hanging down over their bottoms like an animal’s. Tenniel left them out. He told the author that a girl might manage a flamingo, but not an ostrich.” Marina Warner again on John Tenniel, Lewis Carroll and the Alice books.

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Untitled painting by Christian Schoeler who was interviewed for a second time at East Village Boys.

Shamanism and the City: Psychedelic Spiritual Tourism Comes Home and Scientists finding new uses for hallucinogens and street drugs. Related: LSD – A Documentary Report (1966), “a totally new kind of record album”.

• More books: Interview with a Book Collector. Mark Valentine, author, biographer and editor was also the co-publisher in 1988 of my adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s The Haunter of the Dark.

• The Priapus Chandelier “features six hand-sculpted phalluses cast in translucent resin, which radiate an atmospheric light.”

Stewart Lee on Top Gear, in which the comedian and Dodgem Logic contributor eviscerates the BBC’s pet trolls.

• The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library put the Voynich Manuscript online.

• The 432-page SteamPunk Magazine collection with my cover art is now on sale.

Hubble, Bubble, Toil & Trouble: The Haxan Cloak Interviewed

• The Sunn O))) chapter of The Electric Drone by Gilles Paté.

Colonel Blimp: The masterpiece Churchill hated

Submergence (2006) by Greg Haines | Reyja (2011) by Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason | The Fall (2011) by The Haxan Cloak.

Alice in Liverpool

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Alice and the Caterpillar (1865) by John Tenniel.

It’s perhaps surprising that an art gallery, rather than a library, is holding a huge survey exhibition about Alice, but then Carroll’s creation has been and still is the inspiration of artists, photographers, theatrical designers, animators, film-makers.

Thus Marina Warner writing about an exhibition of art based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice books opening at Tate Liverpool this Friday:

Alice in Wonderland will offer visitors a rare opportunity to view Carroll’s own drawings and photographs, alongside Victorian Alice memorabilia and John Tenniel’s preliminary drawings for the first edition of the novel.

Carroll’s stories were soon adopted by other artists. Surrealist artists from the 1930s onwards were drawn towards the fantastical world of Wonderland where natural laws were suspended. From the 1960s through the 1970s, Carroll’s Alice tales also prompted conceptual artists to explore language and its relationship to perception, and the stories inspired further responses in Pop and Psychedelic art. Expect to see works by artists ranging from Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, to Peter Blake and Yayoi Kusama. (more)

The exhibition runs to January 29th, 2012, and I suppose this gives me a convenient opportunity to point again to my psychedelic Alice calendars which have been updated for the forthcoming year.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Coulthart calendars for 2012
Scenes from a carriage
Through the Psychedelic Looking-Glass: the 2011 calendar
Jabberwocky
Alice in Acidland
Return to Wonderland
Dalí in Wonderland
Virtual Alice
Psychedelic Wonderland: the 2010 calendar
Charles Robinson’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Humpty Dumpty variations
Alice in Wonderland by Jonathan Miller
The Illustrators of Alice

Scenes from a carriage

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One of John Tenniel’s illustrations for Through the Looking-Glass (1871).

The collaboration with Carroll, and the production of this clairvoyant illustration gave Tenniel the chance to accuse the killer, whose identity he knew – because he had, at some level, shared in the crime. His capped (or crowned) Guard wears the Diamond and stares, eyeless, at the girl: because he is, or stands for, the Red King. He is checkmated. The Goat accuses him, a Tarot Devil, representing ‘ravishment, force, fatality’. So Tenniel is able to put into his depiction of Alice the details of the murders that the police have never made public. The hands of the victims were always tied in front of them – as Alice’s are, within her muff. They were all strangled with a knotted scarf, such as the one that Alice wears. And a single feather was knotted into their hair. I rest my case.

There’s further divination by Iain Sinclair of Tenniel’s carriage scene in his 1991 novel Downriver but you’ll have to search out the book if you want the rest. The picture above is scanned from my 1908 edition of the two Alice novels which has the sharpest reproductions of Tenniel’s illustrations I’ve seen, not least because they’re printed on quality paper. Later editions often print second- or third-generation copies with the cross-hatched areas reduced to black smudges.

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Oedipus by Max Ernst from Une semaine de bonté (1934).

Tenniel’s carriage scene has always been linked for me with this collage by Max Ernst from his Surrealist masterwork, Une semaine de bonté. Sinclair’s proposed murder scenario gives the two pictures an additional resonance when you notice the body on the floor of Ernst’s carriage. Is this Oedipus’s father, recently slain by his son, or some other victim?

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Lithograph by Max Ernst from Lewis Carroll’s Wunderhorn (1970).

Salvador Dalí illustrated Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1969 which perhaps prompted Ernst’s own set of mysterious Alice-inspired lithographs a year later. I’ve yet to see a complete set of the Ernst prints, if anyone has a link then please leave a comment. The artist’s collage novel is a lot easier to find since it’s one of the many great books that Dover Publications keep in print.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Through the Psychedelic Looking-Glass: the 2011 calendar
Jabberwocky
Alice in Acidland
Return to Wonderland
Dalí in Wonderland
Virtual Alice
Psychedelic Wonderland: the 2010 calendar
Charles Robinson’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Humpty Dumpty variations
Alice in Wonderland by Jonathan Miller
The Illustrators of Alice

Virtual Alice

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No, I didn’t go searching for this, I had my fill of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland last month. The British Library website is a lot more amenable than it used to be for the casual browser, and one of its newer sections is a small collection of what they call virtual books which enable you to leaf through some of their exclusive volumes. The pages above are from the original handwritten manuscript, Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, from which the printed book was later adapted. I have this in a small facsimile edition so I don’t need a web version, and the illustrations are often reprinted, but this web copy allows you to see the work in its entirety. They also reproduce the text and have an audio facility. I went through my copy a couple of times whilst working on the calendar in order to see how Dodgson depicted some of his scenes. A few of his conceptions differ from the famous Tenniel illustrations, not least his drawing of Alice herself who closely resembles the real Alice Liddell.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Psychedelic Wonderland: the 2010 calendar
Charles Robinson’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Humpty Dumpty variations
Alice in Wonderland by Jonathan Miller
The Illustrators of Alice