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The Printed Image: Gustave Doré and Paradise Lost

For the final 2023 installment of The Printed Image, I’m continuing our exploration of illustrated works by Gustave Doré within Falvey Library’s Special Collections, this time focusing on John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, in a large format edition published in 1886 by Cassell, Petter, and Galpin.

In my last blog post, we ended with Doré’s depiction of Satan in the deepest circle of Hell, a giant brooding beast encased in ice. Doré’s work within Paradise Lost can be seen as a prequel of sorts, as Milton and Doré, separated by centuries, depict Satan’s rebellion and war with Heaven, his fall to Hell, and his temptation of Adam and Eve.

(Click on images for larger view.)

“Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool / His mighty stature.” Engraved by Charles Laplante.

“With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way, / And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies.” Engraved by Adolphe Gusmand.

“Now storming fury rose, / And clamour, such as heard in heaven till now / Was never.” Engraved by A. Demarle.

While Milton’s poem features Adam and Eve as key characters, Doré’s illustrations are dominated by the angelic and the demonic, playing to his strengths for dynamic and dramatic imagery. These divine figures are visualized alone within heavenly or infernal realms, or within congregations that are in active conflict. One notable detail is that, with the exception of the wings, there is sometimes little difference between angel and demon, they share nearly the same face and figure. Even Satan doesn’t assume a more sinister appearance until later in the series of illustrations.

“Now Night her course began.” Engraved by Adolphe Ligny (detail).

Another quality that struck me within these illustrations is Doré’s combination of light and the horizon as a way to create an evocative setting. In several instances, Doré sets the scene in a landscape where an edge of light hovers just above the horizon, a liminal realm still waiting to be fully defined and created. While one may assume this is the light of dawn, it could easily be the fading light of dusk, a symbol for the fallen angels. While Doré’s compositional strengths show through here, credit must also be given to his engravers who brought his drawings to life via wood engraving, capturing the light and the way it reveals these unique worlds.

“They heard, and were abashed, and up they sprang.” Engraved by Laurent Hotelin.

“On the foughten field / Michael and his angels, prevalent, / Encamping, placed in guard their watches round.” Engraved by Adolphe Ligny.

“And seems a moving land; and at his gills / Draws in, and at his trunk spouts out, a sea.” Engraved by Hildibrand.

A final observation is that one may recognize certain compositional elements with other Doré illustrations. Doré made nearly 10,000 illustrations during his lifetime, so it only makes sense that his style would rhyme within his body of work. Compare the illustration for Satan’s approach to Earth (below left) with the haunting illustration for Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, and Nine days they fell (below right) with Dante swoons after hearing Francesca from Dante’s Inferno.

“Towards the coast of Earth beneath, / Down from the ecliptic, speed with hoped success, / Throws his steep flight in many an aery wheel.” Engraved by Paul Jonnard.

“Nine days they fell.” Engraved by Adolphe Gusmand.

“In with the river sunk, and with it rose, Satan.” Engraved by Paul Jonnard (detail).

Paradise Lost may be viewed in-person in Falvey Library’s Rare Book Room by appointment. An edition with Doré illustrations from 1900 can be viewed at Internet Archive. And Gustave Doré’s biblical illustrations continue to be on display in the Divine Inspiration exhibit, on view on Falvey Library’s first floor.


Mike Sgier is a Distinctive Collections Coordinator at Falvey Library.


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“Igdoof”: The precursor to “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” on the Villanova Digital Library

American cartoonist Jeff Kinney is widely known as the creator of the successful children’s book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The series was first published in 2004 on the website FunBrain, followed by a print series starting in 2007. Since then, the popular franchise has seen 18 main entries, as well as several supplementary books and spin-off projects. While characters like Greg Heffley, Rowley Jefferson, and Manny Heffley are widely recognizable by both children and adults, a lesser-known character created by Kinney is Igdoof.

p. 22, The Villanovan, Vol. 65. No. 18, March 30, 1990.

The Villanovan, Vol. 65. No. 18, March 30, 1990, p. 22.

Igdoof was the eponymous protagonist of a comic strip that Kinney wrote and illustrated as a university student from 1989 to 1993. The series was originally published from September 8, 1989, to April 20, 1990, in The Villanovan, volume 65, issues 1-20; the rest of the series was published by the University of Maryland’s newspaper after Kinney transferred there. Unlike Kinney’s later creations, Igdoof did not feature entirely child-friendly humor, but was instead aimed at a college-student audience. In the comic strip, the character of Igdoof gets into trouble and has a hard time adjusting to college life, generally to comical effect. Sometimes, he makes jokes at the University’s expense.

The Villanovan, Vol. 65. No. 7, November 3, 1989, p. 28.

The Villanovan, Vol. 65. No. 7, November 3, 1989, p. 28.

Kinney attempted to continue Igdoof in professional newspapers after his time at the University of Maryland, but never actualized this goal; this 1994 article from The Washington Post provides context for this period in Kinney’s career. However, Kinney was able to rework various aspects of Igdoof in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. While the jokes in Igdoof were often inaccessible to or inappropriate for younger children, the comic strip nonetheless influenced Kinney’s famous children’s book series. Several characters in Diary of a Wimpy Kid are based on Igdoof characters, most notably Greg Heffley’s younger brother Manny Heffley, who bears a strong resemblance to Igdoof himself.

The Villanovan, Vol. 65. No. 20, April 20, 1990, p. 21.

The Villanovan, Vol. 65. No. 20, April 20, 1990, p. 21.

All Igdoof comic strips from the 1989 and 1990 issues of The Villanovan have been digitized and are available to view on the Villanova Digital Library. Later Igdoof stories have been digitized by the University of Maryland and are available to view here. Falvey Library also offers digital access to several entries in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, including Big Shot, The Deep End, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Special Disney+ Cover Edition).

Note: In recent years, Igdoof has attracted the attention of the internet’s lost media community, which seeks to track down and preserve media that is in danger of becoming lost to history. This page on the Lost Media Wiki website chronicles the attempts at uncovering the comic strip, which was believed to be lost for a time. The website credits Villanova University with making Igdoof available, but provides a hyperlink to digitized copies on the Internet Archive, rather than the Villanova Digital Library.

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Geography Awareness Week: The First Statistical Atlas

If you’ve been following Falvey Library’s social media, blog, and in-person events this week you already know all about Geography Awareness Week. On Tuesday, we hosted an open house featuring some highlights from The John F. Smith, III and Susan B. Smith Antique Map Collection and other map holdings from Distinctive Collections. Visitors especially enjoyed browsing through several nineteenth-century grade school geography books. In case you missed it, many maps can be found online in the Digital Library. Here is one of my favorites:

 

Walker’s Statistical Atlas of the United States: Based on the Results of the Ninth Census 1870 with Contributions from Many Eminent Men of Science and Several Departments of the Government.

See the full atlas in the Digital Library here: https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:611320

Geological Map of the United States, 1874.

 

Published in 1874 and compiled by Francis A. Walker, the superintendent of the 1870 census, this is the first statistical atlas – that is, the first national atlas that took data from the United States census and published visualizations in the form of maps and charts. (Hint: take note and check out the Falvey Data Visualization Competition!)

Part I of the atlas shows maps of the physical features of the U.S., including geological formations, woodlands, river systems, rain-fall, and temperature. Parts II and III feature thematic maps and graphs of “Population, Social and Industrial Statistics” and “Vital Statistics.” There are maps showing the Black population, the population of those with “foreign parentage,” wealth, debt, birth rates, death by specific diseases, and so much more.

In a section titled, “The Progress of the Nation,” several maps show the density of general population (ahem, “excluding Indians not Taxed”) in a series of maps from 1790 to 1870. The 1870 map includes the addition of Native American reservations to the map.

 

Inspired by Merril Stein’s recent demo of PolicyMap, an online GIS data mapping and analytics tool, here is a demographic map showing the population density in the United States in 2020 (the source is the 2020 census).

 

PolicyMap. (n.d.). Number of people per square mile in 2020 [Map based on data from Census: US Bureau of the Census, 2000 Longform]. Retrieved November 16, 2023, from http://www.policymap.com.

 

Learn more about statistical atlases and the U.S. Census Bureau here: https://www.census.gov/history/www/programs/geography/statistical_atlases.html

 


Rebecca Oviedo is Distinctive Collections Librarian/Archivist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 


 

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eBook available: A Tragedy of Love and Hate

The latest dime novel from our collection to be made available as a free Project Gutenberg eBook by the Distributed Proofreaders project is A Tragedy of Love and Hate; or, A Woman’s Vow, part of Street & Smith‘s Bertha Clay Library.

The novel opens with a mysterious murder, then gradually reveals the cause of the tragedy through a flashback which makes up the majority of the book.

The identity of the book’s author may be a bigger mystery than the identity of the murderer in the story. While attributed to the fictional “Bertha M. Clay” pseudonym for this edition of the work, the novel was first anonymously serialized in The Family Reader under the title Lady Alden’s Vow. Many Bertha M. Clay novels were pirated reprints of works by the British author Charlotte M. Brame; the tone and content of this book seem very close to Brame’s usual territory, but because of its anonymous publication, it cannot be definitively identified as her work. (See the Victorian Fiction Research Guide to Brame for much more detail on this).

Whether or not Brame is the author, the book is comparable to some of her most successful works, while also having some unique characteristics of its own. The tone is darker than many romances of the period, featuring comparatively complex and flawed characters, and a plot where love cannot conquer all problems. The mystery elements and non-linear narrative also set it apart from more formulaic fare.

If you would like to read the book for yourself, the full text can be found online or downloaded in common eBook formats through Project Gutenberg.


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Tricks and Treats from the Vault

Thank you to all the students and staff that attended DCDE’s annual Halloween event on Tuesday! Each year DCDE opens our deepest darkest vault to unveil our spookiest material as well as bring some levity to your day’s studies in Falvey.

Many treats, from candy to pizza, were available to Halloween revelers to enjoy. In addition, DCDE had wooden block prints created by our DCDE coordinator, Mike Sgier, available for people to take home.

A print demonstration was done at the event and intended to highlight the type of printing done for some of the bibles on display in the our new exhibit, Divine Inspiration: Revealing the Sacred in Biblical Texts and Imagery.

This year was a return of our Haunted Villanova Map with attendees placing stickers on places at Villanova they think are eerie or know of a good ghost story. Alumni Hall, Tolentine Hall, Middleton Hall, and Falvey Library seemed to be the spookiest places on campus lately.

And as we do every year we had on display some of DCDE collections’ spookiest and fantastical items. These items illustrate the discourse around the unexplained in the past or what was considered popular stories of ghosts, monsters, etc.

Always a fan favorite is  hand drawn jack-o-lanterns of Halloween letter from 1925, which demonstrates how Halloween was celebrated in the past.

On display and available to see by appointment in Special Collections:

Irish Witchcraft and Demonology from the McGarrity Collection

Letter, To: “Dear Papa” From: Catherine Meave McGarrity, October 22, 1925 from the McGarrity Collection

Issues from Weird Tales from our Dime Novel Collection

The Amateur’s Guide to Magic and Mystery and the Black Art: Fully Exposed

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Printed Image: Gustave Doré and Dante’s Inferno

For this October installment of The Printed Image, we’re continuing the exploration of Gustave Doré’s illustrated works within Special Collections while also journeying to an underworld of doom and darkness.

Doré’s illustrations for Dante’s Inferno have defined this literary masterwork for modern audiences, to the point where readers may know the images without knowing the artist. Doré began work on the illustrations in 1855 and eventually self-published his own edition in 1861, after he was unable to find a publisher willing to take the financial risk. Doré’s own risk paid off, and the Inferno illustrations became a defining point in his career. [1] (The edition in Falvey’s Special Collections was published later by P.F. Collier in New York.)

Hell, as depicted by Doré and his engravers, is a desolate, desiccated realm; a smoldering, scorched earth with jagged, sharp rocks and barren landscapes, where lost souls swirl through the air as the damned are tormented alongside the monsters and gods of pagan days past. Surprisingly, we don’t see much in the way of fire depicted in these illustrations; the Inferno has already occurred, Hell is what remains.

Dante swoons after hearing Francesca’s story, engraved by Louis Paul Pierre Dumont

Arrival of Geryon, engraved by Adolphe François Pannemaker

Dante addresses Pope Nicholas III, engraved by Adolphe François Pannemaker

Virgil addresses the False Counselors, engraved by Héliodore Pisan

As mentioned briefly in my previous post, Doré’s prolific illustration output would not have been possible without the engravers who helped bring his drawings and designs into print. Within the Inferno illustrations, we can see that an engraver’s treatment of a Doré drawing could impact the tone and atmosphere of the final image, which we can see in the pair of following illustrations.

The image on the right, engraved by Héliodore Pisan, is composed with a density of lines and marks, many of them short cuts and stipples that create a gradual gradation from the dark landscape in the background to the bright flame within Farinata’s tomb.

This is contrasted with the illustration below, by an engraver only known as ‘Delduc,’ where the negative space dominates the image. We can see evidence of an engraver’s tools in its making, but it also closely resembles a pen-and-ink drawing, which is not an easy feat for a wood engraving. Pisan’s treatment creates an aura of dark menace while Delduc presents Hell’s torments with clarity and precision.

Virgil and Dante before Farinata degli Uberti, engraved by Héliodore Pisan

Sowers of Discord in the Ninth Circle, engraved by ‘Delduc’

No overview of Dante’s journey would be complete without remarking upon the deepest and darkest circle of Hell, where Satan resides. Doré presents Satan not reveling in his kingdom but brooding, trapped in ice, a creature of frustration and simmering grievances. How he came to be there, by means of Doré and a different author, will be featured in the next Printed Image installment.

Dante’s Inferno may be viewed in the Rare Book Room by appointment. To see more illustrations based on Dante’s works, please visit the online exhibit Dante Illustrated, which includes a reading from the Inferno by Father Peter Donohue, O.S.A. To learn more about Gustave Doré, watch this video on Peter Beard’s illustration Youtube channel. And visit Open Culture to view illustrations Doré created for Dante’s Purgatorio and Paradiso.

Satan, engraved by Héliodore Pisan

References
[1] “Gustave Doré’s Hauntingly Beautiful Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno.” The Marginalian, 2 Oct. 2015, www.themarginalian.org/2015/10/02/gustave-dore-dante-inferno/.


Mike Sgier is a Distinctive Collections Coordinator at Falvey Library.


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Over the Garden Wall and the McLoughlin Brothers

Episode two: “Hard Times at the Huskin’ Bee,” Cartoon Network, original air date November 3, 2014.

Fall, with all its gloomy skies yet cozy days, is known as time for a rewatch for fans of the cartoon, Over the Garden Wall. Since 2014 and with each passing year the cartoon has garnered new fans of all ages. The richness in storytelling interweaving childhood hurt, fear, insecurity, and sense of adventure against the backdrop of the unknown. The story draws on folk and fairy tale conventions and forms a story where the tone seems familiar yet unrecognizable at the same time that seems to keep audiences captivated. Adventure Time storyboard artist, Patrick McHale, created the ten-part Cartoon Network miniseries which draws inspiration from Dante’s Inferno, nineteenth to early-twentieth century Halloween cards, lithography, 1930s animation linework, the illustrations of John Tenniel, a 1890 board game called Game of Frog Pondfolk art, early twentieth century American music, and, for those in the know, McLoughlin Brothers children’s books.

Distinctive Collections has a small collection of McLoughlin Brothers Inc. children’s books in our Dime Novel and Popular Literature collections. McLoughlin Brothers Inc. produced children books, board games, puzzles, and paper toys between 1858 and 1920. The artwork was considered vibrant for the time as the company pioneered color printing technologies for children’s books with chromolithographs and photo engravings. The company specialized in retelling of classic stories for children. Their success and influence went hand in hand with the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries growth of children’s literature, also known as the Golden Age of Children’s Literature. Even many of the earliest board games in America were produced by McLoughlin Brothers, though, in 1920, the company’s board games were sold to Milton Bradley & Company. Today, the American Antiquarian Society holds one of the largest collections of McLoughlin Brothers archives including over 1,700 toy books, games, paper toys, publishers’ catalogs, and original art work. But you can view Distinctive Collections’ small collection in the Digital Library and/or in person in our reading room.

 

The cartoon pays homage to the McLoughlin Brothers in subtle ways as many believe in the opening credits the two boys playing with the steamboat in the creek to be the McLoughlin brothers. In the episode, “Lullaby in Frogland,” the steamboat Wirt, Greg, and Beatrice sneak on board is called the “McLoughlin Bros” steamboat. Throughout the episodes it’s easy to see the influence from color palette and style to characters.

         Two boys playing at a stream with a toy steamboat.       The back of a steamboat with the McLoughlin Bros name

Episode six: “Lullaby in Frogland,” Cartoon Network, original air date November 6, 2014


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The Modern Mithridates

Falvey Library’s Distinctive Collections has a new acquisition to our Dime Novel and Popular Literature Collection just in time for Halloween! Vanity fair, v. 1, no. 1, December 31, 1859 contains a spooky poem about poison and pharmacies.

“The Modern Mithridates.”

The poem opens with a plea for breakfast. It quickly becomes apparent that it is not sustenance that the narrator requires, but poison.

O! bring my breakfast—give to me

Bread that is snowy and light of weight—

Of alum and bone-dust let it be,

Chalk, and ammonia’s carbonate :

Within the poem, the narrator references Hydromel, the ancient Roman word for mead from the Latin hydro (meaning water) and mel (honey, the main ingredient of mead). The following line calls for assistance from the ancient pharmacologist Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus (fl. 1st century BCE) who was known for his mythical remedy Mithridate, which was thought to be a powerful antidote to many illnesses.

Bring sugar, and sweeten the potion well—

Sugar of lead, and iron, and sand,

Sweet as honey of Hydromel

Or the Pressure of Mithridates’ hand!

The poem concludes with a witty twist—that all of the poisonous chemicals and minerals named in the poem can be found at your local grocery store.

Ha! you start! you think that I

Being a man of mortal clay,

After my meal will surely die,

For these are deadly poisons, you say :

Poisons? yes! Yet one and all

Are found on every grocer’s shelves

Our bills of mortality are not small,

—But how can we help ourselves?

G. A.

The author, George Arnold (d. 1834 – 1865) was an American poet and regular contributor to Vanity Fair. A contemporary of Walt Whitman, Arnold was born in New York City and was known to frequent one of Whitman’s local haunts—Pfaff’s beer cellar.

Walt Whitman and George Arnold at Pfaff’s, 1857.


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The Printed Image: Doré Fairy Tales

Over the course of the fall semester, I’ll be highlighting books from Falvey Library’s Distinctive Collections featuring the work of French illustrator Gustave Doré. This is in conjunction with the new exhibit Divine Inspiration: Revealing the Sacred in Biblical Texts and Imagery, now on display on the first floor of Falvey Library. Doré created over 200 biblical illustrations for an edition of the Bible published in 1866, and a case in the exhibit is dedicated to his work, as well as being included on the exhibit poster.

For this first entry in the series, we’re focusing on illustrations Doré created prior to his biblical illustrations with Doré Fairy Tales (formally titled “Popular Fairy Tales”), a 32-page volume that collects four stories, published in 1888. An author is not credited for the text, but Doré’s illustrations most likely derived from illustrations he created for Charles Perrault’s fairy tales, around 1862.

Illustration for ‘Little Red Riding-Hood’

An artistic prodigy and enormously prolific, Doré earned acclaim for his book and newspaper illustrations while striving for acceptance in the traditional French art establishment. The majority of his illustrations were produced through wood engraving, a process where an image is carved into a block of wood by carving away the negative space of the image. Ink can then be rolled onto the carved surface and subsequently printed, though often metals plates were created from the blocks by means of electrotyping or stereotyping, allowing the images to be used in industrial printing, and for wider dissemination of the illustrations [1].

Doré was able to utilize the engraving medium to add a staggering level of detail to his illustrations, with expressive costuming, characters and locales. The illustrations have a strong grounding in realistic environments, but still leave room for the strange and fantastic, as seen in the illustrations for The Seven-League Boots. But these qualities are also due to the engravers who collaborated with Doré, as they were the ones who carved the woodblocks based on Doré’s drawings, thus bringing his visions to life. Doré often drew directly onto the woodblocks prior to carving, so not much evidence remains of his preparatory drawings prior to an engravers’ tools [1].

Illustration for ‘The Seven-League Boots’

Illustration for ‘Blue-Beard’

Illustration for ‘The Seven-League Boots’

Engraver’s signature for ‘Blue-Beard’

In many cases, the engraver’s signature would be included on the illustrations along with Doré’s, as can be seen in the bottom left corner of a Blue-Beard illustration. However, for many of the illustrations in this particular edition, Doré’s signature is the only one that is prominent. This could be due to the way the illustrations were formatted for this particular edition, or how the printing plates were disseminated to the publisher.

One final aspect I’ll note is the paper used for this edition. The paper has a significant texture or “tooth” to it that is detectable when reading, and brings a unique character to the illustrations. But it also creates an uneven surface for the ink to rest upon, which may account for spots where it appears the ink has been rubbed away. This is a reminder that every variable in printing will impact a book and its contents, and will be a factor in its preservation.

Detail for illustration from ‘Blue-Beard’

Doré Fairy Tales may be viewed in Falvey Library’s Rare Book Room by appointment. Internet Archive includes a number of editions with Doré fairy tale illustrations, and you can learn more about the importance of engraving to Doré’s process by visiting The History of Art.

References
[1] Schaefer, Sarah C., ‘The Good News’, Gustave Doré and the Modern Biblical Imagination (New York, 2021; online edn, Oxford Academic, 18 Nov. 2021), https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190075811.003.0003

 


Mike Sgier is a Distinctive Collections Coordinator at Falvey Library.


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An Exhibit of Biblical Proportions

Divine Inspiration: Revealing the Sacred in Biblical Text and Imagery

The first floor of Falvey has a new exhibit installed that showcases historically significant Bibles from Falvey Library’s Distinctive Collections with a focus on the impact of the printing press on Sacred Texts.

From scroll to manuscript codex to the hand-press printed book, Bible production has been a driving force behind global textual revolutions. The selections featured in this exhibit demonstrate the multitude of ways in which producers of Sacred Texts incorporated new media technologies into existing Biblical traditions to create the Bible anew.

As this exhibit illustrates, the Bible is not dead, but continues to be a dynamic object with enduring spiritual impact for readers from its inception to today.

The exhibit reception, Envisioning Celestial Beings, will be held Thursday, October 19th 2023 from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM at the Falvey Library Speakers’ Corner. The physical exhibit will be up for the fall semester–stay tuned for information on the digital exhibit!

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Last Modified: September 15, 2023

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