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Woodblocks in Wonderland: The Japanese Fairy Tale Series

- September 3, 2019 in Art & Illustrations, best of folk and fairytales, Books, Chirimen, Chirimen-bon, crepe paper books, fairy tales, Featured Articles, japanese folklore, japonisme, Lafcadio Hearn, Religion, Myth & Legend, Takejiro Hasegawa, The Japanese Fairy Tale Series

From gift-bestowing sparrows and peach-born heroes to goblin spiders and dancing phantom cats — in a series of beautifully illustrated books, the majority printed on an unusual cloth-like crepe paper, the publisher Takejiro Hasegawa introduced Japanese folk tales to the West. Christopher DeCou on how a pioneering cross-cultural endeavour gave rise to a magnificent chapter in the history of children's publishing.

Woodblocks in Wonderland: The Japanese Fairy Tale Series

- September 3, 2019 in Art & Illustrations, best of folk and fairytales, Books, Chirimen, Chirimen-bon, crepe paper books, fairy tales, Featured Articles, japanese folklore, japonisme, Lafcadio Hearn, Religion, Myth & Legend, Takejiro Hasegawa, The Japanese Fairy Tale Series

From gift-bestowing sparrows and peach-born heroes to goblin spiders and dancing phantom cats — in a series of beautifully illustrated books, the majority printed on an unusual cloth-like crepe paper, the publisher Takejiro Hasegawa introduced Japanese folk tales to the West. Christopher DeCou on how a pioneering cross-cultural endeavour gave rise to a magnificent chapter in the history of children's publishing.

H. G. Wells and the Uncertainties of Progress

- June 27, 2019 in Books, Culture & History, future, future history, h. g. wells, Literature, progress, retrofuture, science fiction

In addition to the numerous pioneering works of science fiction by which he made his name, H. G. Wells also published a swathe of non-fiction meditations, mainly focused on themes explored in his stories — the effects of technology, human folly, and the idea of progress. As Peter J. Bowler explores, for Wells this notion of progression was far from simple.

Filling in the Blanks: A Prehistory of the Adult Coloring Craze

- February 6, 2019 in adult coloring books, Art & Illustrations, Books, botanical art, hisory of coloring in, kate greenaway, Painting, robert sayer, walter crane

Its dizzy heights may have passed, but the fad for adult coloring books is far from over. Many trace the origins of such publications to a wave of satirical colouring books published in the 1960s, but as Melissa N. Morris and Zach Carmichael explore, the existence of such books, and the urge to colour the printed image, goes back centuries.

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.