SAFARI seems to no longer work
for comments...use another browser?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Weird Rollicksome Hornet Amplifications


Note to self, regarding prior post: never write about sex and books on blog.

My own final flourish (at least until some other hot-spirited soul shows up) in the comments:

Let all writers follow the thread of story until they reach the heart of the labyrinth, whatever it contains.

That's where I stand on writing.

Get rid of age divisions for books created by marketers. (My little fantasy!) If a child or a teen is ready for adult fare, fine. If he or she is not ready for adult fare, fine.

That's where I stand on children, teens, and reading.

"What I’m more interested in is the teacher who is not trying to convey a message about sex or anything else but who shines with passion for books, and who can help a teenager catch a little spark of that fire."

I stand by this.


The December 5th post from my beloved e-haunt, Giornale Nuovo, contains poems, quotes, and "details from a set of sketches and completed drawings done by Mervyn Peake for a projected illustrated edition of Dickens’s Bleak House, which, however, never came to fruition." Go see! And the transforming-to-sheep picture above is, of course, from his illustrations to the great Lewis Carroll.


At The Reading Experience, Dan Brown* has continued and amplified--I think this is one of his gifts, to latch on and develop--my post on rereading. I find in him much that is of interest, whether I agree or disagree, plus an appealing streak of the curmudgeon!

*Penitential update: Note what a rollicksome, careless mood can do. Poor Dan Green is now Dan Brown. From here on out, I shall either expect him to be an absurdly weathy fellow or else give him a different color name whenever I meet him--Dan Pale Ecru, Dan Lavender, Dan Puce, Dan Lemon Yellow, Dan Dandelion Silver, and so merrily on.


Despite the fact of too many things on my list today and too many events this afternoon (five at last count), despite the snow (pleasantly covered with giant crows), despite the fact that I just remembered how the incredibly well-read editor John Wilson called me The Invisible Novelist (it is delightful to have titles, though!), and despite the fact that it was a mistake to pull the gutters off the house, I am feeling absurdly happy.

It must be the Bleak House illustrations.

Or maybe it is because Cooperstown is, as always, wonderfully dressed for Advent, and has an old-fashioned, Old World feel--rather like the corner of St. Michael's churchyard in Charleston, South Carolina that Henry James declared the most English bit of America.

Perhaps it is because I am reading and liking Clare's 98 Reasons for Being.

I feel quite, quite rollicksome (a portmanteau word in honor of Carroll.)



  1. Thanks for the introduction to Mervyn Peake -- I think I still remember his illustrations for "Alice in Wonderland" -- which must mean they did their job -- but I don't care for his characatures for "Bleak House" -- which just make me wish I were looking at Daumier instead (for whom, BTW, an incredible website can be found here )

    Do do you know of any sites or blogs that specialize in book illlustration --- i.e. hunting down favorites from every period and every country ? I wish there were such a place -- I would visit it frequently.

    In Chicago, our museum permanently features a hallway of the original art used to illustrate children's books -- and it's often a rewarding place to visit. (and discover that the original is usually way more enjoyable than the offset printed version)

    And since I am an "opinionated guy" -- I may as well opine that Rockwell Kent's illlustrations for "Moby Dick" remain my favorite -- although it's so hard to separate the favoriteness of an illustration from the favoriteness of the book that accompanies it.

  2. These were, I gather, the ones that were not used... But I don't know if Peake rejected them or somebody else did. I like to see anything by him that I've never seen before, whether a 'success' or no--his mind is so curious.

    Yes, I like Daumier's lithographs, and I can see why you think of him after looking at those heads. And I like the Rockwell Kent Moby Dick as well, with all those whale heads and tails amid stars--though I haven't seen a copy in a while. Alas, no good fairy gave me a collectible Kent, despite my love for Melville! Do you like Barry Moser? The Kent edition made me think of Moser's Bible illustrations. I just looked him up and found this site:

    It has some other illustrators.

    There probably is a perfect and infinite site run by an obsessive, somewhere. I have several on my list that do post illustrations (have you tried BibliOdyssey?), and there is a very big site there of bookplates (I do like looking at these.) But I don't know what the best comprehensive sites are. I'll have to poke around, or maybe somebody will know and tell us. There are some current illustrators at CFM Gallery, and they're on line.

    I always like going to the FSG children's floor, where I am sure to see something original. Of course, these days there often is no complete "original" because of the digital additions to illustrations.


    Just peeked around, and here's a link to the Kent illustrations:

  3. Those color names!

  4. I am feeling very puzzled as to what part of speech "color" is, Dan!

  5. Sorry for being cryptic. I was attempting to call Marly's attention to the fact she called me "Dan Brown" in her post.

  6. I find your happiness contagious. You make want to pretend that it is a snowy night and I busily put up decorations in my cottage.

    I glanced down at your last post before I did this and decided I needed to read it later when the house is quiet, but slightly before 2:00 am, although I did wake up this morning at 2, luckily I went back to sleep.

  7. Ha!

    I am doubly an idiot, Dan Blue, Dan Purple, Dan Orange! What a riotous mistake. You are quite, quite different from D. B. I know this despite the fact that I have read many of your words and only the first paragraph of his book.

    Ah well, you should hear what I call my children--sometimes I run through the gamut and start in on the cats and dog. Never the Russian tortoises or the guppies, though.

    Today was a busy day... That's all my excuse, and not much of one.


    I have just made cinnamon decorations with two of my children. Yet to come: dozens of gingerbread people and critters, all decked out in royal icing. I love tradition.

  8. I was scrapbooking today and wound up writing these cheesy little two line ryhmers to illustrate my pictures! Its a scream.

    What I really wanted to tell you is that I posted some really rare pictures of Pearl Harbor. THought you might like to see them.

  9. I have always enjoyed Peake's illustrations and nonsense poetry. I haven't tried his famous Gormenghast trilogy yet, but I do mean to. So many good books to read, so little time.

  10. I have always enjoyed Peake's illustrations and nonsense poetry. I haven't tried his famous Gormenghast trilogy yet, but I do mean to. So many good books to read, so little time.

  11. I have always enjoyed Peake's illustrations and nonsense poetry. I haven't tried his famous Gormenghast trilogy yet, but I do mean to. So many good books to read, so little time.

  12. Nothing useful to add, except I was attracted and engaged by the vigor and volume of chat coming from the comments-kitchen.

    Oh, by the way, should I just set this bottle of wine down here? (Yes, the pico de gallo is pretty hot, I'd be careful if you're not used to spicy snacks...)


  13. Trala, thanks!

    The cook is working late, and an addition to the kitchen is much appreciated, Lori. I was becoming rather thirsty!

    Vigor, yes; things were getting a bit spicy. Ah well, it's just about the only kind of warmth a Southerner can find up here in December. And a little bowl of Tale Caju fresh off the fire can be invigorating.

    Susanna, those pictures were grand. Very impressive memories of the Day.

    Imani-in-triplicate, you should read the first two--Titus Groan and Gormenghast. (After Kathleen Raine, of course!) Or perhaps you should read all three, since you are appearing in threes.

    After reading the Endicott Studio blog, I suppose that Mr. Aitch of Giornale Nuovo meant that no Peake pictures for Bleak House were ever used. Not sure.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.