Lucian’s True History


Lucian is Lucian of Samosata whose True History (also known as A True Story) is often regarded as one of the earliest works of science fiction. The book is a satirical work, but unlike many earthbound satires this one concerns a journey into outer space, encounters with the inhabitants of various planets, and descriptions of interplanetary war.


These illustrations are from the 1894 edition which included contributions by Aubrey Beardsley that were the artist’s earliest drawings after the enormous labour of the Morte d’Arthur. Beardsley was eager to illustrate the book which he found more stimulating than the Mallory but when commissions arrived for Wilde’s Salomé and The Yellow Book he found himself overworked. (The publishers also rejected two of the more grotesque drawings.) William Strang and JB Clark filled out the rest of the book. The Beardsley illustrations are familiar from the larger collections but I’d not seen the Strang and Clark drawings until now. Content-wise this was the strangest book that Aubrey worked on, and I can’t help but wonder how he might have illustrated the rest of it if he’d had the time.















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Previously on { feuilleton }
William Strang’s Sindbad the Sailor
William Strang’s Baron Munchausen

4 thoughts on “Lucian’s True History”

  1. Interesting! These could be could Beardsley-imitations, if they were not made almost simultaneously. The fifth from below for example has the fetus and the drawing reminds one of Beardsley’s Siegfried.

  2. That’s one of the Beardsleys, as is the third from the top. The two that the publisher rejected turn up in some books, the most common one being a depiction of a baby being born from the calf of a leg.

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