Thomas Rowlandson and the Angry Red Pencils

I‘ve been reading the wonderful World of Simon Raven, a collection of writings by the notorious English cad. It’s excellent stuff (although, strangely, that’s not Raven on the cover), and in an extract from the late lamented Erotic Review, he takes a moment to remind us of Thomas Rowlandson – even if it’s only to say “he can’t do penises properly. They all look like pencils with angry red ends.”

Unkind, but not untrue. Rowlandson, for those unfamiliar with him, was an English cartoonist, contemporary of James Gillray and George Cruikshank, and remembered both for his part in popularising the character of John Bull, and for his erotic prints. He was also a pretty Bookkake-ish character:

He was born in Old Jewry, in the City of London, the son of a tradesman or city merchant. On leaving school he became a student at the Royal Academy. At the age of sixteen, he lived and studied for a time in Paris, and he later made frequent tours to the Continent, enriching his portfolios with numerous jottings of life and character. In 1775 he exhibited a drawing of Delilah visiting Samson in Prison, and in the following years he was represented by various portraits and landscapes. He was spoken of as a promising student; and had he continued his early application he would have made his mark as a painter. But by the death of his aunt, a French lady, he inherited £7,000, plunged into the dissipations of the town and was known to sit at the gaming-table for thirty-six hours at a stretch.

Poverty was the spur, however, to develop his caricatures and cartoons, and he left us a legacy of much-admired prints. Wikimedia Commons has a rather good collection, and we present a number here…

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Posted August 19, 2009 | Comments Off on Thomas Rowlandson and the Angry Red Pencils.

Literary Tattoos

Nothing says you love a book quite like getting it tattooed on your own body. The Contrariwise blog of literary and musical tattoos contains some god-awful offences against the eye (the misspellings are particularly amusing) but it also showcases a number which raise a smile.

Our favourite is probably the above, taken from Molly Bloom’s ecstatic, breathless climax in Ulysses:

“…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

There are plenty more on the site, and bonus points if you can identify the sources of the following without following the links:

Posted March 25, 2009 | Comments Off on Literary Tattoos.

Kafka Las Vegas

Hat tip to Mike for pointing out these awesome and slightly disturbing ads for for Filigranes, a Belgian booksellers (more after the jump).

The series reimagines Kafka’s Metamorphosis as a series of movies in different genres – Kafka in Vegas, in black and white, in Manga, in Bollywood. They’re fantastic images, but they also highlight how little good advertising is done of books.

In the UK, book advertising is considered by publishers to be a bit dirty, and mostly amounts to a packshot on a tube poster. Maybe they’ll do something nice with the cover. If you’re lucky. There’s rarely any attempt to engage with and explore the theme and story as there is in much other advertising. There should be more like this.

Posted December 11, 2008 | Comments (3).

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