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Mistress of a New World: Early Science Fiction in Europe’s “Age of Discovery”

- October 11, 2018 in Books, early science fiction, empire, imperialism, Literature, proto science fiction, science fiction

Considered by many one of the founding texts of the science fiction genre, The Blazing World — via a dizzy mix of animal-human hybrids, Immaterial Spirits, and burning foes — tells of a woman’s absolute rule as Empress over a parallel planet. Emily Lord Fransee explores what the book and its author Margaret Cavendish (one […]

Grandville, Visions, and Dreams

- September 26, 2018 in Art & Illustrations, Books, caricature, Featured Articles, grandville, illustration, J.J. Grandville, satire, surrealism

With its dreamlike inversions and kaleidoscopic cast of anthropomorphic objects, animals, and plants, the world of French artist J. J. Grandville is at once both delightful and disquieting. Patricia Mainardi explores the unique work of this 19th-century illustrator now recognised as a major precursor and inspiration to the Surrealist movement.

Eric, Count Stenbock: A Catch Of A Ghost

- September 12, 2018 in Books, count stenbock, decadence, decadent movement, eric stenbock, estonia, estonian writers, Featured Articles, gay writers, Literature, occult, occultism, oscar wilde, poetry, w. b. yeats

With his extravagant dress, entourage of exotic pets, and morbid fascinations, Count Stenbock is considered one of the greatest exemplars of the Decadent movement. David Tibet on the enigmatic writer’s short and curious life.

Bringing the Ocean Home

- June 21, 2018 in anemones, aquariums, Art & Illustrations, Books, fish, inventor of the aquarium, philip henry gosse, Religion, Myth & Legend, Science & Medicine

Bernd Brunner on the English naturalist Philip Henry Gosse and how his 1854 book The Aquarium, complete with spectacular illustrations and a dizzy dose of religious zeal, sparked a craze for the "ocean garden" that gripped Victorian Britain.

Early Modern Memes: The Reuse and Recycling of Woodcuts in 17th-Century English Popular Print

- June 6, 2018 in Art & Illustrations, ballads, Books, Culture & History, internet memes, meme culture, woodcuts

Expensive and laborious to produce, a single woodcut could be recycled to illustrate hundreds of different ballads, each new home imbuing the same image with often wildly diverse meanings. Katie Sisneros explores this interplay of repetition, context, and meaning, and how in it can be seen a parallel with the meme culture of today.

Made in Taiwan? How a Frenchman Fooled 18th-Century London

- April 18, 2018 in Books, Culture & History, Featured Articles, formosa, George Psalmanazar, greatest literary hoaxes, historical hoax, hoax, impostor, invented languages, taiwan

Benjamin Breen on the remarkable story of George Psalmanazar, the mysterious Frenchman who successfully posed as a native of Formosa (now modern Taiwan) and gave birth to a meticulously fabricated culture with exotic customs, social systems, and its own invented language.

Pens and Needles: Reviving Book-Embroidery in Victorian England

- March 21, 2018 in Art & Illustrations, arts and crafts movement, book arts, Books, embroidered book covers, embroidery, may morris, queen elizabeth, victorian, victorian england, william morris

Fashionable in the 16th and 17th century, the art of embroidering unique covers for books saw a comeback in late 19th-century England, from the middle-class drawing room to the Arts and Crafts movement. Jessica Roberson explores the bibliomania, patriotism, and issues around gender so central to the revival.

Pens and Needles: Reviving Book-Embroidery in Victorian England

- March 21, 2018 in Art & Illustrations, arts and crafts movement, book arts, Books, embroidered book covers, embroidery, may morris, queen elizabeth, victorian, victorian england, william morris

Fashionable in the 16th and 17th century, the art of embroidering unique covers for books saw a comeback in late 19th-century England, from the middle-class drawing room to the Arts and Crafts movement. Jessica Roberson explores the bibliomania, patriotism, and issues around gender so central to the revival.

Defining the Demonic

- October 30, 2017 in Art & Illustrations, Books, catholicism, cristianity, demonology, demons, dictionaries, dictionary, Enlightenment, illustration, occult, occultism, Religion, Religion, Myth & Legend, the devil

Although Jacques Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal, a monumental compendium of all things diabolical, was first published in 1818 to much success, it is the fabulously illustrated final edition of 1863 which secured the book as a landmark in the study and representation of demons. Ed Simon explores the work and how at its heart […]

Defining the Demonic

- October 25, 2017 in Art & Illustrations, Books, catholicism, christianity, demonology, demons, dictionaries, dictionary, Enlightenment, illustration, occult, occultism, Religion, Religion, Myth & Legend, the devil

Although Jacques Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire infernal, a monumental compendium of all things diabolical, was first published in 1818 to much success, it is the fabulously illustrated final edition of 1863 which secured the book as a landmark in the study and representation of demons. Ed Simon explores the work and how at its heart lies an unlikely but pertinent synthesis of the Enlightenment and the occult.