The Art of Book Design: Flowers of Evil

Charles Beaudelaire. Flowers of Evil. Translated by C. Bower Alcock. Illustrated by Beresford Egan. New York, Sylvan Press, 1947.

Flowers of Evil, illustrated by Beresford Egan, Title Page

Flowers of Evil, Illustrations by Beresford Egan, Page 35

Flowers of Evil, Illustrations by Beresford Egan, Page 45

The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs de Mal) by Beaudelaire was one of Caine’s favourite books and a special edition of it was gifted to her by Marcus. (stderr) The edition that she received was printed in limited quantities in 1947 with artwork by Beresford Egan and that’s Marcus in the first picture holding a copy of the same book he sent to Caine. The next 2 photos are Marcus displaying 2 of the interior plates to the book. Caine published several illustrations from the book on the blog and always noted how much she enjoyed the exaggerated forms and dark, macabre style of Egan. I’ve included the rest of the illustrations in the book below the fold.

Illustrations via: Retro Sixty, Modern British Art

There are several other editions of this book available to read at The Internet Archive. If you desire to read this edition by Beresford Egan you will need to open an (free) account at The Internet Archive and formally borrow the book.

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The Last Fiction.

This looks to be fascinating, and it’s a great way to learn too. The Last Fiction is a feature-length animation based on a Persian legend told in the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi. I will be looking for it, and looking forward to seeing it. The best bit might be that it’s out of an Iranian studio, so it will not end up being a stupid, offensive, Disnified version. If you could use a bit more information: Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), and Abu ʾl-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi.

The Last Fiction.

Mother’s Nightmare.

Kate Kretz, “Cri de Cœur (Heart Cry)” (2018, after a detail of “Scène du Déluge,” 1827, by Joseph-Désiré Court), graphite on paper, 14 x 11 inches (courtesy of the artist).

Kate Kretz, “Cri de Cœur (Heart Cry)” (2018, after a detail of “Scène du Déluge,” 1827, by Joseph-Désiré Court), graphite on paper, 14 x 11 inches (courtesy of the artist).

While I understand poetic license, I’ll just add this is a father’s nightmare, too. That said, powerful artwork and poetry from Kate Kretz…

the bitter dusty old men
of the battle they shoulda won at Gettysburg
or finally
showing Daddy they could be a man
(in the street at High Noon)

the young ones (who can’t get laid)
Duke Nukem from Bulletstorm Full Clip
(in overkill mode, for extra points)
Finally scoring.

another walking-anger-management-issue
finds a people-killing machine
(no problem)
It fires
fast and hard
a jolt
to finally feel something
Make their mark.

must forever wade in the nightmares that
their children
might be the next collateral damage
yet another lost man’s
of self-actualization

Via Hyperallergic.

Anti-Clericalism in Medieval Persian Poetry.

Standford Lecture Handouts.

The above reads:

Better be a beggar than king, better practice vice

And perfidy than be a bigoted, pious puritan;

Better make love with many mistresses in the street

Than make piety and abstinence in public show.

– Amīr Khusraw Dihlavī (d. 725/1325)

I couldn’t agree more.

The dominant attitude of the anti-clerical rhetoric in Persian poetry is permeated by criticism of judges, lawyers, aesthetics, spiritual advisors, and authority figures of that nature. This is one of the reasons that makes this poetry still relevant. A lot of people today can’t read Milton, because anti-clericalism is no longer part of the normal vocabulary. In the West, we live mostly in a secular society, so the conflict between clerics and anti-clerics does not exist. But that is not the case in the Middle East at all, which makes this conflict very relevant.

Dr. Leonard Lewisohn is Senior Lecturer in Persian and Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of the University of Exeter where he teaches Islamic Studies, Sufism, history of Iran, as well as courses on Persian texts and Persian poetry in translation. He specializes in translation of Persian Sufi poetic and prose texts.

This is fascinating, and I learned a great deal. The lecture is below, and the Stanford Lecture Handouts for Anti-Clericalism in Medieval Persian Poetry are here.

Via Medievalists.

The Twelve Types of Drunkenness.

Oswald von Wolkenstein – Portrait from the Innsbrucker Handschrift, 1432.

In three sections of the poem “Und swig ich nu,” Oswald lets us read (or hear) just how much experience hanging around drunk people he has accumulated over the years.

Often a person believes himself to be so wise
and believes to gain highest fame thereby,
when the juice of the grapes has affected him negatively.
The next one believes that he is so rich
that even the emperor might not be an equal to him.
The third appears like an extremely hungry horse,
so no one can push enough of fresh or rotten food
into the ever open mouth.
The fourth one screams cries over his heavy sins,
and his heart is passionately in flames out of deep repentance
for strange reasons that no one can comprehend.

The fifth one desires to do unchaste actions,
to which he is dedicated day and night,
once he has become addicted to the power of wine.
The sixth has a miserable practice:
He condemns the soul through [false] oaths
so that she will be entirely exhausted when facing God.
The seventh is ready to fight, he growls like a dog
held by a chain and who barks all the time;
its round head is ready for a fight.
The eighth becomes so happy out of drunkenness
that he is ready to sell his honor, property, wife, and children;
the evilness of drunkenness shows in him.

The ninth helplessly becomes crazy,
everything what he knows, sees, or hears,
he presents openly to everyone.
The tenth fights against sleep.
The eleventh sings wild songs
and screams totally uninhibited both in the evening and in the morning.
The twelfth becomes so drunk from heavy drinking
that he feels the alcohol already at the top portion of his throat
and voluntarily pays a tribute to the innkeeper.

(trans. Albrecht Classen, The Poems of Oswald von Wolkenstein)

You can read more about Oswald von Wolkenstein here.

See also:

The Anatomy of Drunkenness, by Robert Macnish, fifth edition; 1834; W.R. M’Phun, Glasgow.

The expanded fifth edition of Robert Macnish’s The Anatomy of Drunkenness, a work by the Glaswegian surgeon, first published in 1827, and based on his doctoral thesis of a year two years earlier. The book examines inebriety from a wide range of angles: although that caused by alcohol is the main focus, he also explores use of opium (popular at the time), tobacco, nitrous oxide, and also other various poisons, such as hemlock, “bangue” (cannabis), foxglove and nightshade. Included in his examination are some wonderful descriptions of the different kinds of drunk according to alcohol type, methods for cutting drunkenness short, and an outlining of the seven different types of drunkard (Sanguineous, Melancholy, Surly, Phlegmatic, Nervous, Choleric and Periodical). The seventh chapter of the book examines the phenomenon of “spontaneous combustion” which apparently tends to strike drunkards in particular.