Friday, 20 November 2009

Are normal people sane?

Are normal people sane? (mp3) From the Gresham College free public lecture series. Full transcript with illustrations here. Painting by Witkacy.

Monday, 16 November 2009


My mum had a brilliant collection of books when she was a child, many of which I also enjoyed. This particular one was probably acquired in the same kind of spirit that my Communist-supporting grandparents bought their Lada and East-German radios (which all groaned on to outlive their owners).

There was, however, something that my mum always found off-putting about this book, which at the time she couldn't articulate. Now she thinks it was probably the very Russian toughness of the drawings, and moral tone of the tales inside. And Uncle Joe giving the kids a ride on his fun tank.

A little boy plays with his ball so much, it's goodbye...

This is an example from a beautiful series of lithographs depicting valiant fishermen who "toil that want and hunger may keep away from you and me."

A pesky fly starts life on the river, but soon ends up swatted by a cow:
"It serves you right, fly: Don't annoy people and don't annoy animals. We're fed up with you", the story ends.
Finally, a montage of stills from the film Land of Toys teaches kids to respect all as equals...

The last thing I noticed was her name inscribed on the end-paper... surely the scribblings of a Soviet-inspired child...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

(Begun one day in March, 1912)

Illustrated endpapers by Victor G. Candell. From Alpha by Emery Balint.