Saturday, May 28, 2011

you who know nothing of the works of God

I'm reading a book called How to live, or, a life of Montaigne: in one question and twenty attempts at an answer. Its author, Sarah Bakewell, does a good job of showing the man's life through his written works. She writes about the tower chamber where he thought and wrote and describes the ceiling joists on which he inscribed Biblical and classical quotations that he wanted to keep in mind.

As it happens, there's currently another well-reviewed book that covers much the same ground — When I Am Playing with My Cat, How Do I Know That She Is Not Playing with Me? — and its author, Saul Frampton, quotes a few of these Sentences de la «librairie», as the French call them. One of them Frampton renders as "You who do not know how the mind is joined to the body know nothing of the works of God."

This, in its aphoristic certitude, reminds me of the ersatz Carl Jung quote I wrote about the other day ("Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate"). However, unlike the one credited to Jung, the quote Frampton gives us has an exact source. Frampton's comes from Montaigne's Latin: "SICVT IGNORAS QVOMODO ANIMA CONIVNGATVR CORPORI SIC NESCIS OPERA DEI" which in turn comes from a statement in Ecclesiastes.[1] Others have rendered Montaigne's Latin into English somewhat differently than Frampton does, but all the translations have the same sense: if you don't know how the mind (or soul) is joined to (or united with) the body, you know nothing of God's works.[2]

Montaigne, it emerges, was paraphrasing his source. The text he drew upon — eleventh verse, fifth line of Ecclesiastes — is all about fate intervening in the affairs of humankind, of one's inability to read the future, and, specifically in this line, what is present but not visible. It reads, in the Vulgate, "quomodo ignoras quae sit via spiritus et qua ratione conpingantur ossa in ventre praegnatis sic nescis opera Dei qui fabricator est omnium." Even not knowing Latin you can tell this is quite different from Montaigne's joist inscription. We've "spritus" instead of "anima" and a whole extra clause about "ossa" and "ventre praegnais" not to mention a replacement of "sicut" with "quomodo" as the intro word.

As with all Biblical texts, there are plenty of English versions of this passage. The New American Standard Bible gives: "Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things." This is somewhat clunky but also pretty close to Young's Literal Translation: "As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, How -- bones in the womb of the full one, So thou knowest not the work of God who maketh the whole." In contrast, the KJV has "As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all." Word for word, the Hebrew text reads: "who not know how long the path of the wind bones the womb of the pregnant so not know the activity of God who makes all."[3]

We do not know why Montaigne made the change or what it meant to him. Frampton says there was an earlier inscription beneath the one he paraphrased from Ecclesiastes. The earlier one came from Lucretius: "There is no new pleasure to be gained by living longer."[4] Frampton believes that in overwriting Lucretius with Ecclesiastes Montaigne "shifted from the philosophy of death to the philosophy of life; from being not afraid to die to being not afraid to live." Whether literally factual or not, this statement is consistent with Montaigne's shifting viewpoints as viewed through his writings.

I can't find that Frampton or the (very many) other students of Montaigne's writings take up his paraphrasing Ecclesiastes as he does, but I am nonetheless interested in what he's done. I like the way Montaigne has taken a fairly routine statement of God's unknowable majesty (much like the one that God forced on Job about which I've previously written) and twisted it into a somewhat more profound philosophic challenge. The end result is a surprisingly concise statement of religious certitude: there are things, like the interaction of mind and body, about which we know practically nothing and about which, quite likely, we never will know very much. These areas of ignorance are the space occupied by religion in human societies. Using many more words, Spinoza in the 17th century and more than a few thinkers in succeeding centuries have said much the same thing.[5]

So, again, side by side: the Jungian challenge that Jung seems not to have uttered: "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate" and the Biblical challenge as poetically reinterpreted by Montaigne: "You who do not know how the mind is joined to the body know nothing of the works of God."

Portrait of Michel de Montaigne, date and artist unknown

{source: wikipedia}

Le Château de Montaigne (ca. 1890). The château burned in 1885 and later restored. The library was damaged by the fire but not destroyed.

{source: wikipedia}

A closer view of the tower.

{source: firstknownwhenlost blog}

Diagram of the ceiling beams.

{source: philo5 blog}

A closer view of part of the beams

{source: citations-latines-et-grecques-gravé}


Some sources:

A Catalog of Montaigne’s Beam Inscriptions

Montaigne avait fait peindre sur les poutres du plafond de sa tour des sentences grecques et latines.

As Sentenças pintadas nas vigas da “librairie” de Montaigne publicadas em 1861 e 1894 (pdf)

The Man Within, Why Montaigne is worth knowing, a review by Liam Julian, in the Weekly Standard, May 30, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 35. The book reviewed is When I Am Playing with My Cat, How Do I Know That
She Is Not Playing with Me? Montaigne and Being in Touch with Life by Saul Frampton (Pantheon, 2011)

Two Books on Montaigne: review by Nicholas Shakespeare in the Telegraph (UK) February 14 2011, reviewing Frampton and What Do I Know? by Paul Kent (Beautiful Books, 2011) Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages also known as Multilingual Bible

Montaigne les sentences de sa librairie

When I Am Playing with My Cat, How Do I Know That She Is Not Playing with Me?
Saul Frampton (Random House Digital, Inc., 2011)

Montaigne avait fait peindre sur les poutres du plafond de sa tour des sentences grecques et latines.

Studies in Montaigne by Grace Norton (The Macmillan company, 1904)

Ecclesiastes 11:5 on the biblegateway web site


Montaigne les sentences de sa librairie

Sentences de la «librairie» par Michel de Montaigne

De rerum natura Titus Lucretius Carus, 97 - 55 a. Chr. n.

Mezentius the Epicurean by Leah Kronenberg (Transactions of the American Philological Association, Volume 135, Number 2, Autumn 2005)



[1] Others render this differently. An earlier author, Grace Norton, tells us that the inscription is much obliterated and thus the exact text is thus somewhat in doubt. She renders it as "Quare ignoras quomodo anima conjungitur corpori, nescis opera Dei." -- Studies in Montaigne by Grace Norton (The Macmillan company, 1904)

[2] Here are four other renderings of the Latin into English:
  • "You who do not know how the soul embraces the body, you know nothing of God's works." -- Montaigne les sentences de sa librairie
  • "You who know nothing of how the soul marries the body, you therefore know nothing of God's works."
  • "Since you do not know how the soul is united to the body, you do not know God's work." -- LES SENTENCES
  • "You who know nothing of how the soul marries the body, you therefore know nothing of God's works."
[3] I like the comparative texts given on the Biblos site, but there are quite a few others to choose from (see Multilingual Bible).

[4] Lucretius wrote: "nec nova vivendo procuditur ulla voluptas" which is probably closer to "nor is any new pleasure forged by living" than the translation Frampton gives, but the sense is the same: there's no assured pleasure in prolonging life merely for the sake of living. (See Mezentius the Epicurean by Leah Kronenberg (Transactions of the American Philological Association, Volume 135, Number 2, Autumn 2005)

[5] For Spinoza, the mind is "a certain modification of the divine intelligence" companion to and not separate from the body. He says mind and body are made up of the same elemental substance. They are different aspects of the same being and that being is God. (See for example descartes and spinoza, mind and body: the problem of interaction by Daniel Siksay

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

of those who do not toil in blindness

A Facebook friend recently put this in his status box:
"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." -Carl Jung
Search the internet and you'll find that the quote appears many places, but nowhere — that I see — with a citation to source. Search jung, consciousness, fate and you'll probably fare no better (as was my experience).[1] If he did make this statement, where and when did he do so?[2]

Looking through his published works I find a transcript from a seminar he gave in 1931. It's participants expressed the sense of the quote without actually voicing it. The subject is a vision (a meditation or self-hypnotic trance) as reported by a woman who had undergone psychological analysis with Jung. Here's an extract. The text gives the vision first, then discussion.
Dr Jung: She sees an old man. She says:
I looked into his eyes and saw therein a great river full of writhing bodies. A few men stood upon the bank and called with a loud voice to the struggling masses in the rushing water. The water cast a few souls upon the bank. Then the men who stood there lifted them up and showed them a star and a sun. This I saw in the eyes of the old man. The old man said: "You have perceived" and he sank into the earth.
What is this intermezzo? Who would the old man be?

Mrs. Crowley: The wise old man.

Dr: Jung: Yes, in this case the animus, but in the disguise of the old man. She looks into his eyes — here is the eye again — meaning that she sees what he sees. This man is of legendary age, I don't know how many centuries old, he is the personification of the collective unconscious which is of immense age and in his eyes she sees with the vision of the collective unconscious: And what is the view the old man has in his eye? What·is this great river full of bodies?

Prof Eaton: The river of time.

Dr Jung: Do you remember the dream of the river of time in one of the former seminars? The bodies are the individual lives, twisting and turning and writhing themselves into a sort of pattern that dissolves and reforms again and again. It is the river of time, of life, in other words. Now why are those men standing on the bank? Why are they not all in that chaotic river?

Mrs Schlegel: Perhaps they are conscious.

Remark: The are individuated.

Dr Jung: Yes, these are the people of detached consciousness, people who are conscious of themselves and of life. And that they call to the struggling masses in the rushing water produces the effect that a few souls are cast upon the bank — they wake up and leave the great river. Then the men who stand there lift them up and show them a star and a sun. What does that mean?

Remark: Consciousness and individual fate.

Dr Jung: Exactly. The star is the individual fate, and the sun means the light of day, and it is also the symbol of the deity. Consciousness of the individual life and of the deity is the idea. Then the old man said, "You have perceived." and disappeared. What has he perceived?

Miss Sergent: The necessity of consciousness, I should say the difference between the people in the water and the people on the bank.

Dr Jung: The interesting fact is that what one gets from that wise old man has always a universal sense — if he is really a positive figure.

Prof Eaton: The old man said "you have perceived," without qualification, which to my mind means that he has perceived all.

Dr Jung: Exactly. What she sees is really a point of view, a Weltanschauung. It is a very simple thought, but of tremendous consequences. She sees the chaos of life, an interminable river of life that rolls on to eternity, making no sense whatever because everything is merely chaotic. Only a few are standing on the bank and are aware of it. And so in our world only a few are standing upon the bank and really understand, see with their eyes what is happening; all the others are just toiling on as blind as ever. The unconscious emphasizes here the extraordinary importance of consciousness, consciousness as a sort of redemption from the eternal wheel of death and rebirth. Like the wheel in Buddhistic philosophy, death and rebirth. the curse of that eternal illusory meaningless existence. In this vision we find the same principle as in Buddhism, the consciousness of what is happening as a redeeming principle. The people standing on the bank are aware of the individual fate, and the relation to the deity, or the star and the sun. Those are the two important principles. Now of what is this vision making our patient aware?

Mrs Crowley: That she is one of those people who are on the bank.

Dr Jung: But he tells her something more important, at least in my humble opinion, it is more important.

Prof Demos: That everything must perish is a very pessimistic fact; but to realize this fact in one's consciousness is somehow to rise above it, to conquer it. To accept the fact that you perish in time is a sort of victory over time, which is perhaps the meaning of tragedy in the drama. This vision is a presentation of the meaning of knowledge — a conquest of fate by accepting fate.

Dr: Jung: Exactly, and that is again the Buddhist idea. So this vision is a sort of reconciliation of herself, or of her point of view, with the great nonsense of the world. It gives her a philosophical explanation; it points out that that river only make sense if a few escape and become conscious, that the purpose of existence is that one should become conscious. Consciousness redeems one from the curse of that eternal flowing on in the river of unconsciousness. This is an exceedingly important idea and is the next parallel to the central Buddhist teaching. Now, mind you, our patient has had no particular education in this respect. This really comes directly out of the kitchen of the unconscious; she is shown in a most impressive way the meaning of human existence.
The seminar took place in Zurich on March 25, 1931. It's reported in Visions: notes of the seminar given in 1930-1934 by C.G. Jung by Carl Gustav Jung, edited by Mary Foote and Claire Douglas (Princeton University Press, 1997).[3] Apart from Jung himself, the speakers are identified on page xxxiv of this book. The book's introduction tells how the seminar came about. Jung did not intend that its transcript be published, and the editor tells us that it was an informal affair, conducted in English (of which Jung was not a native speaker) with participants from varying walks of life who came from England, the U.S., Germany, and Switzerland.

The woman whose vision is being discussed was Christiana Morgan. A book review in the New York Times says she "was a talented, passionate and exceptionally beautiful woman who made a significant contribution to the early development of psychoanalysis. But she died unrecognized and, in the end, unloved." -- A Woman of Visions, a book review by By Ben Macintyre, New York Times, August 22, 1993; the book is Translate This Darkness, the Life of Christiana Morgan. By Claire Douglas (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993)

Once, back in the seventies, a person I consulted said it's helpful to watch yourself being yourself. I accepted this as wisdom then and still do. I like the way Jung and the seminar participants run with the version of this idea which emerges from the vision.

I also like the way the transcript reminds me of the psychoanalytic excesses of the 1930s and '40s. In that time many people credited Freud's writings with scientific validity, and, with some reservations, Jung's as well. Although now giving us no evidence of what we accept as science, the writings emerge as the works of art that they truly are and, when good, can, as good literature does, allow us to respond to them with deep and rewarding pleasure.

{Christiana Morgan (source: Dalum Hjallese Debatklub) and Carl Jung (source: wikipedia)}


Some sources:

Visions: notes of the seminar given in 1930-1934 by C.G. Jung by Carl Gustav Jung, edited by Mary Foote and Claire Douglas (Princeton University Press, 1997)

Christiana Morgan on wikipedia

Christina D. Morgan

A Woman of Visions, a book review by By Ben Macintyre, New York Times, August 22, 1993; the book is Translate This Darkness, the Life of Christiana Morgan. By Claire Douglas (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993)

"Christiana Morgan's Visions Reconsidered: A Look Behind The Visions Seminars" by Claire Douglas, in Library Journal, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Summer 1989), pp. 5-27

"Vying Visions" by Eugene Taylor, reviewing Love's Story Told; A Life of Henry A. Murray by Forrest G. Robinson, and Translate This Darkness: A Life of Christiana Morgan, the Veiled Woman in Jung's Circle by Claire Douglas in
Library Journal, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Summer 1994), pp. 43-46

Review by Paul Hannigan of Love's Story Told by Forrest G. Robinson in Harvard Review, No. 4 (Spring, 1993), pp. 214-215

'Whatever is not conscious will be experienced as fate' - Carl Jung



[1] The search turns up some variants, such as this: 'Whatever is not conscious will be experienced as fate' - Carl Jung, and a few reports of failure to find sources.

[2] It's reasonably likely that he was never recorded as having used these exact words. The internet is riddled with inexact, distorted, and non-existent "quotes."

[3] I've quoted from this work under fair use provisions of U.S. Copyright Law.

Monday, May 23, 2011

color printing

In the 1890s, American printers produced some excellent color advertising. This ad for Newsboy Cigars was printed in 1894 by the Calvert Lithographic Co.

{Newsboy cigars. Manufactured by Brown Brothers, Detroit, 1894, Calvert Lithographic Co.; source: Library of Congress}

This one dates from about the same time.

{Drink Coca-Cola 5 cents, 189- , print: chromolithograph; summary: Print shows a well dressed young woman, wearing hat, white gloves, and pearls, holding up a glass of Coca-Cola, seated at a table on which is a vase of roses, the "Drink Coca-Cola" sign, and a paper giving the location of the "Home Office [of the] Coca-Cola Co." as well as branch locations; source: Library of Congress[1]}

Although digital imaging can be somewhat flakey, I imagine you can tell that these two make good use of a wide range of color tones.

Impressed on newsprint using high-speed, multi-cylinder rotary presses, advertisements in the local press couldn't attain such high quality. But, even in 1909, they looked pretty good, as this page from the New York Herald of 1909 attests. You can assume it looked a lot better on the day it came out. The highly-acidic wood-pulp paper on which it was printed will have deteriorated much more during the past century than the heavier stock on which the cigar and Coke ads appeared, and as the paper aged the colors will have grow dim.

{This comes from the Herald of 1909; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

Newspaper color work from earlier in the 19th century is also surprisingly good. This example comes from a New York weekly, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, in 1883.

{"North Carolina &mdash An Illicit Whisky Still in the Mountains Surprised by Revenue Officers," from a sketch by J.S. Hodgson, a page in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper for the week ending September 1, 1883; source: Shirley Stipp Ephemera Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, UNC}

This one comes from more than a decade before.

{Grant at the capture of the city of Mexico by E. Leutze, made between 1860 and 1870; source: Library of Congress}

Many newspaper illustrations were what we call political cartoons. This patriotic example appeared in the New York Herald on January 9, 1898. It isn't usually identified as typical of the era's yellow journalism, but this cartoon does fit the mold pretty well. When it appeared the high-circulation dailies, such as Hearst's New York Journal were flaming American jingoism and the Spanish American War was just about to break out.[2]

{"Uncle Sam -- Now Let Some of the Other Fellows Invent Something" by Charles Nelan, New York Herald, January 9, 1898; source: Cartoon Research Library, Ohio State University}

This 1895 drawing shows a multi-cylinder color press. These presses printed multiple colors in one operation at high speed.

{source: flickr}

These presses were enormous and immensely complicated. Containing about 50,000 separate pieces, they were something like thirty-five feet long, seventeen feet high and twelve feet wide. Although they used only four colors, they'd have some 64 sources of ink, called fountains. Fed by huge rolls of paper, they build up a color illustration by overlaying first yellow, then red, then blue, one after the other. The paper wound its way through the press much too fast for the different impressions to be visible, but if they were you would be able to see what the following images show. Note that the fourth color, black, is not part of this somewhat simplistic demonstration of the overlay process.

Modern industrial progress by Charles Henry Cochrane (J.B. Lippincott company, 1904) }

Although the process was highly automated, a great deal of skill was required in creating the plates from which each impression would be drawn and setting up the press to insure that the plates and unrolling paper were precisely aligned.[3] In most cases the artist would create the original color work using pen and ink or brush and paint. The work would be photographed three or more times using color filters to isolate, respectively, the yellow, red, and blue tones, and their variants. By a process called photoengraving, the photographic negatives (all of them black and white) would be used to make at least three printing plates and these, in turn, would be used to make the stereotype plates that were attached to the rollers of the giant presses. Each stereotype printing plate would be inked with a separate color to impress the paper as it wound its way through the press.[4]

The cigar and Coke ads were not made on one of these presses. They were poster-sized placards meant for display in shop windows, on advertising kiosks, and the like. The Coke ad was made by a process called chromolithography. In the late 19th century, chromolithographs were called "chromos." They were color lithographs and their quality varied greatly, depending on the skill of the printers and the size of the project's budget. The best were costly and could be extremely faithful to the original. They were made either by repeated impressions of a flat sheet of paper against inked lithographic stones or by a rotary method called offset lithography. A book published in 1875 describes this process clearly and in some detail.[5]

This enlargement from the Coke ad shows the tonal gradations that could be achieved in a relatively high quality chromo print.

The Newsboys Cigars ad has more abrupt tonal gradations. Although the curator identified the ad as a lithograph, the enlargement I've put below shows that it has been reproduced via halftone process. While chromolithography was done on lithographic flatbed or offset presses, halftone printing could be done on letterpress printing equipment, the same type of presses that were used to publish daily newspapers. In halftone work, tonal gradations are conveyed by dots of pigment. When the dots are close together the eye sees relatively intense tones; as they're increasingly separated, the eye sees lighter tones of the pigment. Making high quality halftones is difficult and time-consuming, requiring exact registration of the paper through multiple impressions, but the process is nonetheless cheaper and faster than is high quality chromolithography. Half-tone illustrations could be inserted along with text on the pages of daily newspapers, but this would normally be done for black and white photographs rather than color pictures.[6]

Here is an enlargement from the cigar ad that's comparable to the one of the Coke ad.

Compare this detail from a halftone reproduction of a painting of Chief Joseph made in 1897.

Here's the painting from which I've taken the Chief Joseph detail. Note that in this case the Library of Congress curator has identified the print as a halftone.

{Halftone reproduction of a painting by E.A. Burbank of Chief Joseph, Nez Percé chief, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front, published by the Chicago Colortype Co., 1897; source: Library of Congress}

The New York Public Library has an excellent set of web pages describing and demonstrating chromolithography. Note in particular its sets of progressive proofs of a print called Prang's Prize Babies.

The two small crosses that you may have noticed on the Coke ad show it to be a type of proof. The crosses helped the printer determine that the registration was accurate as each successive color overlay was made. Once exact registration was assured, the crosses would, of course, be removed so as not to appear in the production prints.


Some sources:

The New Journalism 1865-1919

The Penny Press

Six thousand years of history see other blog post

The Daily Newspaper in America see other blog post

"Printing Presses" in The Encyclopedia Americana Encyclopedia Americana Corp., 1919

"The Development of the Rotary Web Press" in The American manual of presswork Oswald publishing company, 1916

Modern industrial progress by Charles Henry Cochrane (J.B. Lippincott company, 1904)

Color printing in wikipedia

History and present condition of the newspaper and periodical press of the United States by Simon Newton Dexter North (Govt. print. off., 1884)

American dictionary of printing and bookmaking by Wesley Washington Pasko (H. Lockwood, 1894)

History of Color Printing

COLOR PRINTING IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY An Exhibition at the Hugh M. Morris Library, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, August 27 - December 19, 1996,curated by Iris Snyder

The wonders of modern mechanism, a résumé of progress in mechanical, physical, and engineering science at the dawn of the twentieth century by Charles Henry Cochrane (J.B. Lippincott company, 1900)

Chromolithography on wikipedia

"How Chromos are Made" in The living age, Vol 95 (Littell, Son and Co., 1867)

"Chromo-Lithography" in House documents, otherwise publ. as Executive documents, 13th congress, 2d session-49th congress, 1st session (Gov't Printing Office, 1876)

The half-tone process: A practical manual of photo-engraving in half-tone on zinc, copper, and brass by Julius Verfasser (Iliffe & sons, limited, 1904)

The chemistry of light and photography: in its application to art, science, and industry by Hermann Wilhelm Vogel (London, Henry S. King & Co., 1875)

Commercial engraving and printing, a manual of practical instruction and reference covering commercial illustrating and printing by all processes, for advertising managers, printers, engravers, lithographers, paper men, photographers, commercial artists, salesmen, instructors, students and all others interested in these and allied trades by Charles William Hackleman (Commercial Engraving Publishing Company, 1921)



[1] Wikipedia gives a bit more detail: '"Drink Coca-Cola 5¢", an 1890s advertising poster showing a woman in fancy clothes (partially vaguely influenced by 16th- and 17th-century styles) drinking Coke. The card on the table says "Home Office, The Coca-Cola Co. Atlanta Ga. Branches: Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas". Notice the cross-shaped color registration marks near the bottom center and top center (which presumably would have been removed for a production print run). Someone has crudely written on it at lower left (with an apparent leaking fountain pen) "Our Faovrite" [sic].'

[2] Contemporaries news readers didn't use the term yellow journalism at that time. To them it was yellow kid journalism, after Outcault's Yellow Kid comic strips, about which I've previously written (see New York Sunday comics in the 90s & aughts).

[3] A contemporary account describes the whole process in considerable detail: Modern industrial progress by Charles Henry Cochrane (J.B. Lippincott company, 1904). I've outlined the method of making newspaper text in a previous blog post: Newspaper Story.

[4] In practice, more than three printing plates could be used. There might be one for black and grey tones and another for brown. Where faithfulness to the original picture was important, such as with high quality fine art reproductions, more plates would be added for different prominent tones in the original.

[5] "Photo-Lithography" in The chemistry of light and photography: in its application to art, science, and industry by Hermann Wilhelm Vogel (London, Henry S. King & Co., 1875

[6] See "Halftones" in the same source, and:

By "half-tone," in so far as this relates to printing plates made by the photo-mechanical process, is meant all engravings, pictorial and otherwise, which have their grays or lighter tones produced or enhanced by mesh formations over the face of the engraving, whether these be conveyed through a "dotted" or "lined" glass screen — the usual mechanical manner of producing half-tone effects on this character of printing plate.
-- The Inland and American printer and lithographer (Maclean-Hunter Pub. Co., 1895)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

high on the Hurrum Hills

I like verse anthologies. I generally read them through, skimming over entries that don't grab my attention, but also trying to read with fresh eyes ones that have painful familarity. It's surprising how often these books contain things both new and admirable. A couple years back I reproduced some poems of this latter sort from Minorities, a notebook of verse which T.E. Lawrence wrote for himself and carried about in the Arabian deserts. The anthology that's currently on my nightstand is Seven ages : poetry for a lifetime, edited by David Owen (London: Michael Joseph, 1992). It's done in sections after the Shakespeare poem.* I've just begun the fourth, the soldier, and was pleased there to find Kipling's "A Code of Morals".
"A Code of Morals"
Lest you should think this story true
I merely mention I
Evolved it lately. 'Tis a most
Unmitigated misstatement.
Now Jones had left his new-wed bride to keep his house in order,
And hied away to the Hurrum Hills above the Afghan border,
To sit on a rock with a heliograph; but ere he left he taught
His wife the working of the Code that sets the miles at naught.

And Love had made him very sage, as Nature made her fair;
So Cupid and Apollo linked , per heliograph, the pair.
At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise -
At e'en, the dying sunset bore her husband's homilies.

He warned her 'gainst seductive youths in scarlet clad and gold,
As much as 'gainst the blandishments paternal of the old;
But kept his gravest warnings for (hereby the ditty hangs)
That snowy-haired Lothario, Lieutenant-General Bangs.

'T'was General Bangs, with Aide and Staff, who tittupped on the way,
When they beheld a heliograph tempestuously at play.
They thought of Border risings, and of stations sacked and burnt -
So stopped to take the message down - and this is what they learnt -

"Dash dot dot, dot, dot dash, dot dash dot" twice. The General swore.
"Was ever General Officer addressed as 'dear' before?
"'My Love,' i' faith! 'My Duck,' Gadzooks! 'My darling popsy-wop!'
"Spirit of great Lord Wolseley, who is on that mountain top?"

The artless Aide-de-camp was mute, the gilded Staff were still,
As, dumb with pent-up mirth, they booked that message from the hill;
For clear as summer lightning-flare, the husband's warning ran: -
"Don't dance or ride with General Bangs -- a most immoral man."

[At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise -
But, howsoever Love be blind, the world at large hath eyes.]
With damnatory dot and dash he heliographed his wife
Some interesting details of the General's private life.

The artless Aide-de-camp was mute, the shining Staff were still,
And red and ever redder grew the General's shaven gill.
And this is what he said at last (his feelings matter not): -
"I think we've tapped a private line. Hi! Threes about there! Trot!"

All honour unto Bangs, for ne'er did Jones thereafter know
By word or act official who read off that helio.
But the tale is on the Frontier, and from Michni to Mooltan
They know the worthy General as "that most immoral man."
About which you might wish to know:
First printed in Civil and Military Gazette, April 6th, 1886, the poem appeared in the New York Tribune on July 6th, 1890. We do not know whether this light-hearted piece was based on a true story, or whether Kipling, intrigued by the possibilities of intercepting heliograph messages, simply made up the incident. The heading suggests the latter, but his readers in Simla or Lahore may have known otherwise. The original heading ('...‘Tis my nineth...') implies that most of his verses were his own inventions, but in fact much of their appeal was that they echoed the scandals and rumours of the day. -- "A Code of Morals" (notes edited by Roberta Baldi)

{Heliograph being used by British soldiers during the Boer War, from the Illustrated London News, 1879; source:}

{William Mulready, The Seven Ages of Man (1838); source:}


Some sources:

Heliograph, article in wikipedia

notes on "A Code of Morals" by Roberta Baldi

What Are The "Seven Ages Of Man"?

William Mulready. The Seven Ages of Man. 1838.



* Here's what Shakespeare wrote:
At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
-- The Seven Ages of Man, William Shakespeare

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

more Kant

I read a blog called Miscellanea by Gloria Origgi. She's an Italian intellectual who teaches philosophy in Paris. Origgi writes her posts variously in Italian, French, or English.[1] I did a blog post on her back in August, '09. She has a current post on a topic that needs more attention than it's getting. Maybe you saw Malcolm Harris's Bad Education which appeared toward the end of April in N + 1 mag. Harris complains, with great effect, about the problem of student loans in the United States. He says: "Last August, student loans surpassed credit cards as the nation’s single largest source of debt, edging ever closer to $1 trillion. Yet for all the moralizing about American consumer debt by both parties, no one dares call higher education a bad investment. The nearly axiomatic good of a university degree in American society has allowed a higher education bubble to expand to the point of bursting." If you haven't read the article, I suggest that you do so.

A couple of weeks ago, Timothy Burke, who's another blogger I read, did a post on the Harris article. He says "I think the N+1 essay is fairly on-target. The basic thrust of Harris’ argument is that demand for higher education is strongly inelastic, that students have been willing to incur almost any debt load in pursuit of the credentials offered in higher education because those credentials appear to be the only way to secure a middle-class life, and hence, higher education ratcheted up tuition rates well above inflation for decades." Burke believes that the bursting of this bubble will bring down some schools that give little return for the high prices they charge. He's thinking of unaccredited schools and for-profit degree mills where teaching is done online and not face-to-face, but he's also thinking of expensive schools that train students narrowly for jobs in professions that are already saturated with workers and schools where educational priorities are skewed away from classroom and lab toward the less academic features of a college education. He worries that the burst will damage schools that succeed in giving their students an indisputably high-quality education — ones where the high prices charged produce excellent teaching in an environment where the students' experience in the classroom, lab, and library is given highest priority.

In this latter group are schools like Swarthmore College, which is where he teaches. He notes that there are some weaknesses in these prestigious schools — they spread themselves too thinly (he says they have struggled to meet the expectations of "students and their families that highly selective institutions should be full-service institutions") and they have a tendency to nurture specialization, preparing students for graduate school and not helping them gain a broad understanding of the world in which they live. Tim fears that when schools like Swarthmore are put on the defensive their faculties will become even more specialized, walling themselves off from specialists in other fields, and that not just students, but the whole institution will suffer.

Specialists must understand and be able to explain the broad context of the disciplines in which they work: "In a highly selective liberal arts institution, a specialist has to be able to explain what the intellectual, abstract, normative value of specialization is, and that requires valid models for other choices of how to live and know and think in the world." He concludes:
If students at an allegedly liberal arts institution are confronted by a landscape of curricular rivalry and enrollment capture, not only will they not learn how to make judicious choices about what to know and interpret and how to do so, but they will quickly regard institutional rhetoric about the liberal arts as an insincere atavism. Under those circumstances, the only reasonable choices for those students who happen to end up in such a place will be those choices which most mimic or resemble vocational or pre-professional pathways. At which point, many students may reasonably ask why they shouldn't just cut to the chase and leave for an openly vocational institution, selective or otherwise. Maybe that only gets you a job for a few years after graduation, but that might be preferable to a program which offers no vision at all besides "choose a discipline, become an apprentice academic in that discipline, go on into academia". At that point, do not ask for whom the bubble pops: it pops for thee.
Gloria Origgi has different worries about the bubble in higher education. She fears that students and their families will come more and more to demand a measurable, and short-term, return on their investment in education. Burke mentions this "vocational training" as a target of cost-conscious families but it's not his main focus. Origgi runs through some studies showing that prosperity is not so closely linked with possession of an undergraduate degree as formerly and says it's less and less true that higher education is a good investment. In the end, however, she concludes, much as Burke does, that higher education does not and should not be seen as producing a product that can be measured solely in dollars and cents. She cites Martha Nussbaum's excellent book, Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities and says the value of higher education lies mainly in preserving and extending cultural values. As Burke said in an earlier post, the value of the liberal arts curriculum must be justified, but not in narrow economic terms. Rather, it must be measured by its success in preparing students to achieve a fully successful life — in every meaningful sense of the term.

Schools should show that their graduates are capable of achieving this broadly-defined type of success and should demonstrate that these graduates credit, at least partly, "the content of their education [that] produced ways of thinking about the world that led to that success." I've a friend who might be a good choice as spokesperson for the value of a high-quality liberal arts education. She graduated from Swarthmore in the same class I did and, after trying out some jobs that she didn't find satisfying, eventually got a position with Intel, the giant microprocessor company. They hired her at least partly because she was not a specialist — not an engineer, not an MBA, not an accountant, not a financial whizz — and hiring her paid off for the company as well as my friend. By the time she retired, she'd become head of logistics, a huge job, involving extremely complex operations. This executive position suited her very well. I've also done some posts on five men who could attest to the value of a liberal education. During the 1840s they attended Germany's colleges and universities and later, as prominent American citizens, showed themselves to be cultured and humane as well as politically and economically powerful individuals.[2]

It's Origgi who has the last word on this topic: "Insomma, più Kant e meno account dovrebbe essere lo slogan per salvare i campus dal nonsenso in cui si sono cacciati." Put tersely: if they are to survive the education bubble, schools should adopt more Kant and less accounting as their slogan.


This image comes from flickr.


Some sources:

Perché andare all'università? by Gloria Origgi

On the Bubble, by Timothy Burke

Liberal Arts Poster Children by Timothy Burke

Project on Student Debt

Student Debt, a Pew Foundation report

Institute for College Access and Success

The Thiel Fellowship: 20 Under 20

10 More Reasons Why Parents Should Not Send Their Kids to College

Living Life is better than Dying in College

Don’t Send Your Kids to College

8 Alternatives to College



[1] I don't read Italian and my French is pitiful so I rely on Google Translate for my understanding of Origgi's posts.

[2] These are posts on five of the men called Forty-Eighters who were forced to leave Germany as a result of their actions during the Revolutions of 1848. To skim them click the label 1848 in the side bar at right. Note that their wives tended also to be poster children for the value of high-quality, non-specialist education. And note also that one of them, my great-grandfather, was too poor to attend university but did attend the Gymnasium Carolinum, one of the best (and most ancient) high schools in the country.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hall Caine

In turn-of-the-century NYC the Sunday supplements weren't just devoted to graphic stories and comics.[1] The visual, literary, and performing arts also showed up, including, it hardly need be said, theater (or "theatre" as, then and now, it seems generally to be spelled in the Anglophiliac world). For this reason it's probably not out of the ordinary for the New York Herald's Sunday magazine for October 15, 1905, to have featured a celebrated British writer who had a play running at the New Amsterdam Theatre. The playwright was a prolific author named Hall Caine and he was, as wikipedia tells us, "exceedingly popular." His novels sold better than any of his peers and were thus among the first stories to be translated into the first wave of motion pictures.[2] Search his name in a newspaper archive and you'll be given hundreds of links to book, play, and film reviews, as well as appreciations and biographic sketches of the man.[3] It helped that his life was eventful and his appearance unusually striking. [4]

Here is the cover page of the Herald's feature on Caine.

{Hall Caine, the New York Herald, October 15, 1905; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

His distinctive face, dress, and posture were a magnet for caricaturists as this page of the New York Times demonstrates.[5]

It looks to me like the artist who made the drawing on the cover page of the Herald's Magazine Section in 1905, drew upon this caricature from Vanity Fair in 1896.

{Hall Caine, Vanity Fair, July 2, 1896; source: wikipedia}

Do you agree?

Caine was notorious for wearing what Americans called knickerbockers and the British called plus fours and, after being elected a representative to the legislature of the Isle of Man, would find himself rebuked for wearing them on the floor of that chamber.[6]

The play which was the subject of the Herald's profile of Caine was The Prodigal Son, which also appeared as a novel of the same name. It opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre on September 4, 1905, and closed before the end of October. Like quite a few others of Caine's works, the plot involves a love triangle. Magnus loves a woman who herself loves Magnus's brother, the Progidal. The Progidal marries the woman, takes cruel advantage of his generous-hearted brother, and becomes famous and successful in the eyes of the world. The woman eventually realizes her mistake, and, in the end, the Prodigal comes to a miserable death full of regret for his misdeeds. Caine's habit of reusing plot elements lent itself to parody, as in this treatment by a Punch cartoonist.[7]

{Mr. Hall Caine, in "Why Read at All?" Punch, December 8, 1902, part of a series of cartoons. Others include: Arthur Conan Doyle, William Le Queux, and Robert Hichens.}

Here's a review of the production from the New York Tribune.

{Review: "The Prodigal Son, the New Amsterdam, New York Tribune, September 5, 1905}

Other reviewers were a bit more charmed by the spectacle.[8]

Here's an ad for the production.

{Ad for The Prodigal Son, New York Sun, August 29, 1905}

Part of portrait in oils was painted c. 1898 by R E Morrison.

{source: wikipedia}

This is the New Amsterdam Theatre.

{New Amsterdam Theatre, New York, Detroit Publishing Co., 1905; source: Library of Congress}


Some sources:

Works by Hall Caine in the Internet Archive

Thomas Henry Hall Caine, 1853-1931 on Isle-of-Man dot com.

New-York tribune. (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, September 05, 1905

Some Ideas of Hall Caine, New York Times, December 3, 1904.

WHERE HALL CAINE DREAMS OUT HIS ROMANCES; On His Native Island the famous Manxman Lives Like an Uncrowned King in a Literary Atmosphere of His Own Making, by Bram Stoker, New York Times, September 6, 1908.

Bram Stoker in wikipedia

Hall Caine Caught by a Caricaturist; Novelist-Dramatist Tells Something About His Method of Play-Making and Says a Few Things Anent Bernard Shaw, New York Times, October 1, 1895

GENIUS OF HALL CAINE; Physically the Author, Like Daudet, Is the Man of His Books. HIS INHERITANCE FROM THE BARDS The Isle of Man, Which He Has Seen with Sombre and Grandiose Fancy, Described -- Caine Could Be Its King, New York Times, September 15, 1895

HALL CAINE REBUKED.; Protest Against His Wearing Knickerbockers in House of Keys, New York Times, January 19, 1908

HALL CAINE ON WEALTH TO ROCKEFELLER CLASS; Says It Is a Menace to the Individual and the Nation. HIS FAREWELL TO AMERICA King Edward the Most Popular Man Here Next to Roosevelt -- Kaiser Called a Pagan Monarch, New York Times, October 30, 1905

RECENT FICTION, New York Times, November 19, 1904. Extract from this book review: '"The Prodigal Son" is the Strongest and Most Sincere of Hall Caine's Later Novels. Since "The Manxman" Hall Caine has written nothing so moving in its elements of pathos and tragedy, so plainly marked with the power to search the human heart and reveal its secret springs of strength and weakness, its passion and strife, so sincere and satisfying as his much-heralded story "The Prodigal Son."'

New Concerted Attack on the Fame of SHAKESPEARE; TOLSTOY, Bernard Shaw, Hall Caine and Dr. Bleibtreu assail the Genius and Genuineness of the Bard of the Avon

THOMAS HENRY HALL CAINE in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition. Extract: "THOMAS HENRY HALL CAINE, novelist and dramatist, was born May 14, 1853, on the Isle of Man, of Manx and Cumberland parentage. He was educated at schools in the Isle of Man and at Liverpool. Brought up as an architect, he never followed this profession, but ... became a journalist and was for six years a leader-writer on the Liverpool Mercury. At the invitation of D. G. Rosetti, the poet-painter he went up to London, living with the latter until Rosetti died in 1882. ... His career as a novelist began when "The Shadow of a Crime" ... and real success came with "The Deemster" in 1887. ... "The Prodigal Son" was produced in London, in 1905, scoring a pronounced success. The same play was done in America the fall of the same year, but failed as an artistic or financial success. Despite his activity as a writer, Hall Caine found time to lecture before the Royal Institution in 1892, and to do some extensive traveling. ... His first visit to the United States was in 1895, though he returned in 1898 and in 1906. As ambassador of the Authors' Society he went to Canada to negotiate terms with the Dominion Government with regard to the Canadian Copyright Association, submitting this to the Canadian Cabinet, and receiving for his services the thanks of the Colonial Office. Hall Caine has had a great deal to do with the breakdown of the three volume novel. He is an enthusiastic horseback rider and mountain climber. He lives on the Isle of Man but spends quite a little time in London where he is a member of the National, White Friars, Maccabeans and Authors Clubs."

The Burr McIntosh monthly, Issues 47-53 (Burr McIntosh Publishing Co., 1907)

Public opinion Volume 33 (Public Opinion Co., 1902)

Punch Volume 122 (Punch Publications Ltd., 1902)

Why Read At All?, a portfolio of work from Punch cartoonist Lewis Baumer from 1909-1910, in a blog post by John Adcock.

"THE PRODIGAL SON" PUT ON.; A Large Audience Sees Hall Caine's New Play at Washington WASHINGTON, Aug. 28. -- Hall Caine's new play, "The Prodigal Son," was produced for the first time on any stage tonight at the New National.



[1] I've done two earlier posts on the Sunday papers, one on a graphic feature in verse, called Fluffy Ruffles, and the other on comics, particularly the most visually interesting ones (New York Sunday comics in the 90s & aughts). The two are part of a larger series on New York newspapers in general and the New York Herald in particular. The series began with a post exploring photographs of New York's Herald Square in the late 19th and early centuries.

[2] And, versatile as well as prolific, he made some of his own screenplays.

[3] A search for "Hall Caine" in archives of the New York Times yields 850 hits dating from February 6, 1882, to December 2, 1980, with most (507) clustering in the two decades from 1890 to 1910. Here's a Google Ngram showing the relative popularity of Caine, James Barrie, and Kenneth Grahame.

And this one, restricted to the pair of decades from 1890 to 1910, for Caine, Barrie, and Grahame, plus Bram Stoker, Joseph Conrad, and Lewis Carroll.

[4] The wikipedia capsule biography is good. Born in 1853, he had roots in Cheshire and the Isle of Man. He earned his living as both draftsman and author, mainly working for the local press in Liverpool. Intellectually, he became a follower first of John Ruskin, then Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Politically, his views were socialist but not revolutionary. Both his intellectual and political inclinations led him also to environmentalism and activist in a movement led by William Morris to save scenic spots and ancient structures. In the summer of 1902, when his novels and memoirs had brought him recognition and a degree of fame, Caine did not let his radical views prevent him from associating with members of the British Establishment and apparently had no qualms about accepting an invitation to join King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra during a visit to Isle of Man. As wikipedia says, "the Queen had enjoyed Caine's Manx novels and Caine was invited to join the royal couple on their yacht and to accompany them on their tour of the island the following day."

[5] Here are some caricatures of the man.

{Drawing from The New Student's Reference Work (1914)}

{Cartoon of Hall Caine by Harry Furniss; source: wikipedia}

[6] HALL CAINE REBUKED.; Protest Against His Wearing Knickerbockers in House of Keys

[7] This appeared in Punch in 1909:

It was part of "The Chantey of the Nations" Punch, June 25, 1902:

[8] See for example "Prodigal Son Review," Newtown Register, September 14, 1905.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New York Sunday comics in the 90s & aughts

One of the first and most popular uses of color printing was in the comics pages. The San Francisco Examiner is credited with publishing the first real comic in 1893. This was The Little Bears which grew out of a cartoon accompanying the daily weather report.[1]

Though not among the first, the Sunday comics in the Herald were among the best.[2] The most visually interesting of them was Winsor McCay's Little Nemo. Begun in 1905, this was the first strip with an episodic story line: the narrative continued from one weekly installment to the next. Zachary Chavez has digitized Little Nemo's adventures from the first on October 15, 1905, to the last on July 26, 1914. You can see them here:
Little Nemo in the Comic Strip Library.

Here's the first — October 15, 1905 — setting the scene for the others to follow. Little Nemo falls asleep and is called to journey to a place called Slumberland. Each comic shows his adventures as he tries to get there. Review the wikipedia entry on the strip for a full description of the plot line. Click the image to view full size. You can see McCay's potent imagination and his skill as an illustrator and you can see also the relatively high quality of the Herald's printing.[3]

This is the third; it ran October 29. 1905.

This is the sixth — December 3, 1905.

December 3, 1905

The giant elephant of September 23, 1906, is particularly spectacular. This is the first of a three-week set. You can see the second and third here and here, respectively.

On July 26, 1908, McCay drew this walking bed.

Foxy Grandpa was the Herald's first Sunday strip. It appeared on January 7, 1900, a creation of cartoonist Carl E. Schultze drawing under the name of "Bunny."[4]

Produced later the same year, Pore Lil' Mose was the first Sunday strip to feature an African American hero. Taking its humor from racial stereotypes, it's in keeping with attitudes of that time and not at all in keeping with our own. However, there's nothing vicious or much more than superficially demeaning in the comic. Here's a sample from February 1901. You can see that the artist's approach to drawing and visual design are less imaginative and more in keeping with what we consider normal comics than is McCay's.


The Herald's longest-lived comic strip was Buster Brown. Begun May 4, 1902, it too lacked the visual imagination and drawing skill that McCay brought to the Little Nemo strips, but it was funny and became very popular.[5]

Both Pore Lil' Mose and Buster Brown were made by Richard F. Outcault whose Hogan's Alley was one of the first and best-loved Sunday strips. Outcault specialized in depicting antics and life-in-general among the urban under class of dwellers in tenement aparments. His first, in 1894, was a series these gritty cartoons for Truth Magazine.

{Outcault's "Feudal Pride," June 2, 1894, in Truth Magazine; source:}

In 1895 Outcault moved the Pulitzer's New York World and, while there, he made more prominent one of his Truth Magazine characters, the famous The Yellow Kid. [6] Here are a couple of these early Hogan Alley strips in which the kid appears.[7]

{"First Championship Game of the Hogan's Alley Baseball Team." Hogan's Alley. New York World. April 12, 1896.}

{"Golf—The Great Society Sport as Played in Hogan's Alley." Hogan's Alley. New York World 5 Jan. 1896.}

This next comic shows the Yellow Kid in a Thanksgiving turkey raffle. It appeared in the New York Journal following Outcault's move there in 1896. What was Hogan's Alley has now become McFadden's Row of Flats and the presentation has moved closer to an illustrated story than a simple comic.

{"A Turkey Raffle in Which the Yellow Kid Exhibits His Skills with the Dice." McFadden's Row of Flats. New York Journal. November 22, 1896.}


Some sources:

Comic strip

Sunday comics

The Little Bears

The Yellow Kid

Buster Brown

Little Nemo

The Katzenjammer Kids

Winsor McCay. Extract: "Most of the prominent comic strips of the 1890s and 19-aughts are remembered today as pioneers. Little Nemo in Slumberland is among the first to be remembered for its outstanding quality. Even today, it is regarded as one of the high points in the history of comics. Winsor McCay was the son of Robert McKay (later changed to McCay) and Janet Murray McKay; Robert at various times worked as a teamster, a grocer, and a real estate agent. Winsor's exact place and year of birth are uncertain — he claimed to have been born in Spring Lake, Michigan in 1871, but his gravestone says 1869, and census reports state that he was born in Canada in 1867. He was originally named Zenas Winsor McKay, in honor of his father's employer, Zenas G. Winsor."

Finding "Little Nemo" by Douglas Wolk

R. F. Outcault

American comic strips before 1918

Rudolph Dirks

What's with the Strips, Anyway?

Comic Book Legends Revealed by Brian Cronin

Comic Book Resources

Richard Outcault

The Yellow Kid

R. F. Outcault, The Father of the American Sunday Comics

The Kid From Hogan's Alley By John Canemaker (Kitchen Sink Press, 1995)

Bill Bedard on “Little Nemo in Slumberland”

Winsor McCay

A hundred years later, fans are still over the moon about 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' comic strip October 22, 2005|By Kenneth Baker, Chronicle Art Critic

(Arguably) The Best Comic Strip Ever

Little Nemo in the Comic Strip Library

Little Nemo, a musical production; music by Victor Herbert, book by Harry Bache Smith (Cohan & Harris, 1908)

Comics Timeline, the history of the funnies in America

Chronology of Comic Strips and Comic Books in America

Comic Strip Library by Zachary Chavez

R.F. Outcault's "Pore Lil' Mose"



[1] Wikipedia defines the comic strip as "a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions," and says "the Little Bears (1893–96) was the first American comic with recurring characters, while the first color comic supplement was published by the Chicago Inter-Ocean sometime in the latter half of 1892. On January 31, 1912, Hearst introduced the nation's first full daily comic page in his New York Evening Journal." Here's the little guy:

{source: wikipedia}

[2] The first New York paper to feature a comic was Pulitzer's New York World (1895). The Herald's first strip was, apparently, Foxy Grandpa by Carl E. Schultze in 1900 (Chronology of Comic Strips and Comic Books in America). Here's a Foxy Grandpa strip from 1904. It does seem to display high quality color.

{Foxy Grandpa Cartoon 1904 Children Mirror Sale Joke; source:}

The Herald's claim on having the best comics comes partly from the superiority of its color work. Among cartoonists, the Herald's printing was said to be the best (The Kid From Hogan's Alley By John Canemaker (Kitchen Sink Press, 1995). It was also known for excellence in the quality of the comics themselves, as the Little Nemo strip shows, and for its innovativeness, as the Pore Lil' Mose strip shows.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, my source for the Little Images is Zachary Chavez's Comic Strip Library. Compare the first Little Nemo, in the Herald, with this strip, the Happy Hooligan, which also debuted in 1905 (in the New York American):

{source: flickr}

[4] See note 1.

[5]Newspapers stole successful comics from each other. Outcault left the Herald for William Randolph Hearst's employ in 1906, and after a court battle, he continued his strip, now nameless, in Hearst papers, while the Herald continued their own version of Buster Brown with other artists. The latter lasted until 1911 or so, and the former until at least 1921.

[6] As the Yellow Kid grew more and more popular, William Hearst began trying to entice him over to his New York Journal. In 1896 he succeeded and Pulitzer struck back by hiring George Luks to draw his own version of The Yellow Kid. Both strips ended a year later. This was the era of yellow journalism which originally was referred to as "yellow kid journalism" after the comic.

[7] These Yellow Kid images come from The Yellow Kid on the Paper Stage by Mary Wood.