Maximin: ein Gedenkbuch by Stefan George


This is a strange and beautiful book, a loving paean to a dead boy-poet from another poet, Stefan George (1868–1933), published in 1907. The “Maximin” of the title was Maximilian Kronberger (1888–1904) who was around 14 when he met George; the older man was 34 at the time. George was apparently smitten by the boy, and devastated when he died from meningitis two years later. Maximin: ein Gedenkbuch (A Memorial Book) is the result, a collection of mournful poems, beautifully designed and illustrated by Melchior Lechter in that rectilinear Art Nouveau style which the artist made his own. The memory of the dead Maximin became for George a quasi-religious obsession which makes Maximin the bible of the homosocial cult that George subsequently encouraged.


What’s most surprising about all this behaviour is that it did nothing at all to harm his reputation, even among the Nazis who later revered his poetry. George was a contemporary of Oscar Wilde but the pair were poles apart in character, George’s chilly, high-minded aestheticism preserving him from the brickbats aimed at Wilde and others. Nonetheless, the inherent camp that results from the combination of such a remote attitude combined with flagrant boy-worship secured for George a place alongside Wilde in Philip Core’s essential Camp: The Lie that Tells the Truth (1984):

Strangely enough his overtly (if classically) homosexual verses, his preference for beautiful youth, and his severe black-clad dignity, all became immensely popular in the land of brüderschaft (brothers’ love). The camp Classicism of his ‘academy’ of the spirit, in surroundings of neo-Classical kitsch, hit just the right middle ground between Edwardian sentimentality and Hitlerian Imperialism.

Maximin: ein Gedenkbuch may be browsed or downloaded at the University of Heidelberg. There’s a more academic examination of George’s homoerotics here. Further page samples follow.




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Weekend links 180


One of Jonathan Andrew‘s photos of coastal bunkers and concrete defences from the Second World War. In 2006 JG Ballard looked at the way these structures embody the functional nature of Modernist architecture.

• “Utamaro, whose prints of famous courtesans were regarded as the very models of sober beauty by 19th-century Western collectors, in fact produced more Shunga books and albums than non-erotic works.” Adrian Hamilton on the Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art exhibition.

• “…in Samoa, as in many traditional cultures around the world, androphilic males occupy a special transgendered category.” Alice Dreger on gay male couples and evolution.

• Robert Fuest’s film of Michael Moorcock’s first Jerry Cornelius novel, The Final Programme (1973), is out on (Region 2) DVD this month.

Masked by reticence and cloaked in tweeds, [Herbert] Read was the unexpectedly ardent and frighteningly prolific champion of nearly everything that was radical in the first half of the twentieth century: Imagism, Surrealism, abstraction, the Bauhaus, Marxism, anarchism, Freud and Jung, progressive education, Gandhian nonviolent resistance. Though now somewhat dimly remembered, he was, for decades, the Victoria Station of the arts, England’s primary explainer of the modern.

Eliot Weinberger introduces Herbert Read’s strange fantasy novel, The Green Child (1935).

• KW Jeter’s steampunk novel Fiendish Schemes is published (with my cover art) by Tor on the 15th. There’s an extract here.

• Mix of the week: An early Halloween mix (and interview) from Joseph Stannard of The Outer Church.

• At Dangerous Minds: Codex Seraphinianus: A New Edition of the Strangest Book in the World.

A trailer for the forthcoming Blu-ray release of Murnau’s Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror.

• Kenneth Halliwell: lover, killer… artist? Philip Hoare on the collages of Joe Orton’s partner.

• Clive Hicks-Jenkins looks back at Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête here, here and here.

Anastasia Ivanova‘s photo portraits of lesbian couples in Russia.

Christopher Fox on electronic music’s sound of futures past.

• At Strange Flowers: Melchior Lechter’s book designs.

Vaughan Oliver‘s favourite 4AD album covers.

Swinging Sixties Japanese film posters.

John Foxx’s favourite albums

Beauty And The Beast (1977) by David Bowie | Slow Motion (1978) by Ultravox | I Am The Green Child (2000) by Coil

German bookplates


A selection from Das Moderne Deutsche Gebrauchs-Exlibris (1922) edited by Richard Braungart, an overview of the practioners of the bookplate form in Germany and Austria during the first decades of the 20th century. Some of the German and Austrian art magazines featured here over the past couple of years included bookplate designs, and Braungart’s collection includes many artists from those magazines: Melchior Lechter, Hugo Höppener (aka Fidus), Julius Diez, Heinrich Vogeler, Marcus Behmer, Franz von Bayros, Koloman Moser, Carl Otto Czeschka, Ephraim Moses Lilien, Franz Stassen and others. 400 examples in all.



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Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration #1


Last year saw an exploration here of the fecund pages of Jugend magazine so in the same spirit I’m embarking on a serial delve into Jugend‘s more serious contemporary Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration. I’ve made a couple of posts in this direction already but these were done before I’d had a chance to look properly through the editions at the Internet Archive, the first thirty of which form a collection which comprises some 7500 pages. Since few people would want to download and sort through that mountain these posts can serve as a select guide to the contents.


Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration was published by Alexander Koch in Darmstadt and the first volume is dated October 1897–March 1898. Jugend was a humour magazine so the contents tend to be frivolous and lighthearted, Koch’s title by contrast was a guide to the best of German contemporary art and design and has the advantage of featuring furniture and architectural designs as well as graphic material. The content of this first edition is relatively sedate compared to some of the later numbers when the Art Nouveau style builds up a head of steam. There’s some astonishing design work in subsequent issues, as well as further illustration discoveries like Marcus Behmer. Watch this space.

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The art of Johanna Basford



“I’m a creative catch-all; a designer / illustrator / printer on a mission to cover the world with my hand drawn patterns and motifs,” says Johanna Basford. “I’m not a Vector Technician, but one of the dwindling number of creatives who still likes to put pen to paper.”

Beautiful, intricate work. Via ~Wunderkammer~ (again).

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Melchior Lechter, 1865–1937
Cadavres Exquis
Ronald Balfour’s Rubáiyát