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Posts Tagged ‘Gustave Doré’

Staff Picks: Dreamers, Dealers, Kidney Donors

October 16, 2015 | by

An illustration by Gustave Doré for Poe’s “The Raven.”

The two things I like most about annotated classics are the annotations and the pictures—which are really the point, if you think about it: you can read the text itself in any edition. Truth be told, sometimes the annotations aren’t very interesting, but the pictures rarely disappoint. Such is the case with the new Annotated Poe from the Belknap Press. Some are illustrations that were made to accompany Poe’s works: there’s great stuff from Arthur Rackham, Harry Clarke, Aubrey Beardsley, and Gustave Doré, such as his very cosmic (very Little Prince) depiction of a line from “The Raven”: “Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” But the book also includes art that was influenced, sometimes obliquely, by Poe: a still from Batman in 1966 shows Adam West quoting a line from Poe’s poem “To One in Paradise”—a nod perhaps to the fact that Bob Kane, Batman’s creator, came up with the idea for the masked detective while visiting the Poe Cottage in Fordham, New York. And still other art in the book feels simply like a wonderful excuse to draw connections across time: a moody photographic close-up by Lisette Model of a pair of legs striding the nighttime pavement made the cut because Poe’s description of a man’s “agitated restlessness” in “The Man of the Crowd” prefigures Model’s candid street photography, which appeared a century later. —Nicole Rudick

As a child, I understood the harrowing effect of my sullen and unloving behavior on my parents, yet continued to behave rottenly anyway. Ben Marcus’s story in this week’s New Yorker, “Cold Little Bird,” about a ten-year-old boy who suddenly begins to withhold affection from his parents, is a chilling evocation of the pressure-cooker tension that can arise in family life. Marcus teases striking images out of dense thickets of metaphor; here his writing is spare, the story proceeding in a series of clipped passages. He captures the subtle features of relationship maintenance; one of the best scenes involves the advance-and-retreat dynamics of tactical apologies. In its refusal to diagnose, the story offers no release valve. I persevered to the end and felt uncomfortable, then guilty, then gladdened by the knowledge that I had never been as bad as this little shit, then embarrassed by that thought, then terrified of my own (nonexistent) child; then impressed that Marcus had been able to provoke in me a parent’s anxiety I had never known existed. —Henri Lipton
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Recapping Dante: Canto 13, or Please Refrain from Touching the Shrubbery

January 13, 2014 | by


Gustave Doré, The Inferno: Canto XIII.

This winter, we’re recapping the Inferno. Read along!

Once again we find ourselves lost in a dark wood. Dante notes that in this forest there is no actual greenery. (This is hell, after all. Where does he think he is, the New York Botanical Garden?)

As Dante and Virgil pass through the woods, the Roman tells his disciple that what they are about to witness is unthinkable. Virgil, seeing that Dante can hear screaming but cannot tell where the sounds are coming from, tells him to tear a twig from one of the thorny bushes; the moment in which Dante finally removes the twig is one of the most memorable in all of literature. Blood pours from the tree, and a pained, hissing voice cries: Perché mi schiante? Perché mi scerpi? Why do you break me, why do you tear me? The voice belongs to Pier delle Vigne, chancellor to Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor. Virgil asks Pier to tell his story so that Dante can “revive his fame” up in the living world. Pier’s story is as tragic as the moment in which he loses one of his twigs. He was loyal to Frederick, and was later accused of stealing from him. Not long after his imprisonment, Pier killed himself.

This ring in which Dante finds himself is the realm of the suicides, who, ungrateful for their bodies on earth, are deprived of flesh in hell. Read More »