Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Peculiar Literary Journal

Le Petit Journal des Refusées (1896)

Modernist Journals Project page

Despite its title Le Petit Journal des Refusées is both American and in English.  Appearing in San Francisco in 1896 it announced the launch of a new artistic journal that would accept only work rejected elsewhere.  This was the only issue.  Did it just fail to take off?  Was it a one-off joke?  A prank?  Almost certainly the latter two considering the advertisement in the image below (from January 1902 issue of The Literary Collector).

The contents aren't exactly what you might expect ("I'd love to hunt for angels / And shoot them on the wing") while physically the journal has an odd trapezoidal shape and most surviving copies are slightly different.  (The link above has three versions.)  There are hand-applied images to a few pages, changes in paper stock (wallpaper according to some sources), and even some with differing content.  Despite all the names attached to the various pieces it was actually done by one person.

There's very little background information (though why would there be?).  The most substantial appears to be a piece by Johanna Drucker but I can't find an accessible version and have only read the first couple of pages. 

Though the credited name is James Marrion that's actually a pseudonym for Gelett Burgess, a San Fransisco artist and poet with a decidely comic sensibililty.  I've posted some work of his on this blog before - Burgess Unabridged, The Burgess Nonsense Book and My Maiden Effort.  (He wrote the still remembered poem "The Purple Cow".)  His account of creating the journal is the last image below.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Miniature Painting

John Lumsden Propert - A History of Miniature Art (1887) direct link
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Dudley Heath - Miniatures (1905) direct link
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Charles William Day - The Art of Miniature Painting (1852) direct link 
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George Charles Williamson - Portrait Miniatures (1897) direct link 
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J.J. Foster - Chats on Old Miniatures (1908) direct link
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It's probably no surprise that miniature paintings are small paintings, largely portraits and according to these books most common from the late Renaissance through the Victorian era.  (There's another type of "miniature painting" which is still in existence and involves minature figures used for table-top games.)  Some of the work here goes into more detail about the artists than I would have expected was known but then they're focusing on court or society works.

The book by John Lumsden Propert (1834-1902) seems to be the standard work on the subject.  A quick search didn't find anything substantial that's more recent.  Propert was a London physician who collected art and appears to have created the interest in miniatures.  He claims to have written A History on slips of paper while making his medical visits.  The first bookplate Aubrey Beardsley designed was for Propert (and is included below).

Dudley Heath (1867-1945) was the son of a miniatures painter who later added photography to his business.  He followed in that career, also becoming an art historian and lecturer.  A more full biography is online.

Charles William Day (dates not found) was best known for a popular 1836 etiquette manual that went through many editions and was published in the US.  His book on miniatures is a how-to guide but seemed worth including.

George Charles Williamson (1858-1942) was a prolific author, usually on art history.  He studied at the University of London and later became the art editor at the publisher George Bell.  He contributed several entries to the 11th edition of the Britannica and to the Catholic Encyclopedia.  Some of his paperes are held at Boston College. 

In one of art's more curious developments there was a trend in the 18th century for miniature portraits of single eyes. (Of course there's a Wikipedia page.)  According to Hanneke Grootenboer's 2012 Treasuring the Gaze: Intimate Vision in Late Eighteenth-Century Eye Miniatures, Williamson organized the first exhibition of these works in 1905.  (n53 on p188)

Joshua James Foster (1847-1923) was born in Dorchester and trained in art publishing.  He seems to have run the London Art Business, possibly a studio since a photo Foster made of Henry Irving is in the National Portrait Gallery.  Foster published several works on art topics.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Worshipping Snakes

Overview article in 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Unknown (prob Hargrave Jennings) - Ophiolatreia (1889) direct link 
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Charles Frederick Oldham - The Sun and the Serpent: A Contribution to the History of Serpent-Worship (1905) direct link 
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John Bathurst Deane - The Worship of the Serpent Traced Throughout the World (1833) direct link
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Joseph Fayrer - On Serpent-worship and on the Venomous Snakes of India (1892) direct link
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Wilfrid Dyson Hambly - Serpent Worship in Africa (1931) direct link
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E.G. Squier - The Serpent Symbol, and the Worship of the Reciprocal Principles of Nature in America (1851) direct link
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John Samuel Phené - On Prehistoric Traditions and Customs in Connection with Sun and Serpent Worship (1875) direct link
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Some anthropologists and enthusiastic travellers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were fascinated by the sheer variety of religious practices, devoting a lot of time to collecting information and hypothesizing links.  The big idea, at least in my superficial understanding, was roughly that it's all of one big piece, not exactly that all religions are the same but that they're at least similar and it's worthwhile mapping a lot of links between them.  The Golden Bough is the best known result of this but there are plenty of others, if not quite so massive (or so entertaining). 

This week's post is a collection of books from this period about serpent worship.  Some are fairly straight forward accounts while others wade right into the comparative religion aspects that I suspect don't hold up today.

The first link is to the article from the famous 1911 edition of the Britannica because it gives a good overview and is mostly contemporary with the books.

Ophiolatreia was anonymously published but is considered to be the work of Hargrave Jennings (1817-1890), an esotericist and Rosicrucian who was obsessed with the idea that religion is basically phallic worship. Or maybe sun worship too - I'll admit to not being able to get very far into his stuff.

By contrast,  John Bathurst Deane (1797-1887) was a schoolmaster and Anglican clergyman.  He also married the daughter of John Lemprière (of the dictionary fame).  Deane ties serpent worship into Christian belief, probably not much more plausibly than Jennings.

Didn't find much about Charles Frederick Oldham except that he was a British naval surgeon serving in India during the 1870s.  The book is based on some of his experiences there and due to the date I'd guess was written during retirement.

Wilfrid Dyson Hambly (1886-1962) worked at the Field Museum and published several similar works, probably the most recognizable is The History of Tattooing which has been reprinted by Dover.

E.G. Squier (1821-1888) was a New York archaeologist and journalist who worked in the Mississippi Valley and Central America.  There's a 2005 biography of him by Terry A. Barnhart.

John Samuel Phené (1822-1912) was a British architect and antiquarian who published several pamphlets - this appears to be his most substantial work.  There's an interesting blog post with a photo of an amazing house he designed.  (Another image is here.)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

St Thomas Christians

Adolphus E. Medlycott - India and the Apostle Thomas (1905) direct link 
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Edavalikel Philipos - The Syrian Christians of Malabar: otherwise called the Christians of S. Thomas (1869) direct link
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Richard Collins - Missionary Enterprise in the East, with especial reference to the Syrian Christians of Malabar (1873) direct link
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Michael Geddes - The History of the Church of Malabar (1694) direct link
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W.J. Richards - The Indian Christians of St. Thomas : otherwise called the Syrian Christians of Malabar (1908)

Hathi Trust link

The way I heard the story is that late in the 15th century Vasco de Gama made his first major voyage, intending to open new trade routes to India.  In 1498 he landed on the southwestern tip of India (modern Kerala) and was surprised to discover that there was already a thriving community of Christians there, moreover ones practicing older beliefs.  In my mind I somewhat imagined this like the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knights reach a castle, ask if the inhabitants want to join the quest for the Grail, and are dumbfounded to receive the answer that the inhabitants already have one.

This group is called St Thomas Christians after the story that the apostle Thomas visited in 52 CE and established their church.  (They're also called Syrian Christians after early Syriac speakers who immigrated and settled there.)  Though the story about Thomas seems likely to not be true there's just enough plausible evidence that it can't be dismissed out of hand.  There are even claims that his tomb is nearby - you can visit it (or at least one possibility).  Vasco's landing prompted the arrival of priests a couple of years later which threw the St Thomas Christians, who were fully organized and well functioning, into turmoil that seems to have never entirely settled.  You can read a recap at the Brittanica or a detailed one with more history and theology at the Catholic Encyclopedia.

In any case, the story I heard was only part of it.  The St Thomas Christians weren't completely unknown in Europe since there had been European visitors in late antiquity and the middle ages.  Marco Polo even made a short report about them and there were Church travellers in the 14th century.  In fact I have a suspicion that the Vasco story may not be completely accurate because I've only seen it repeated in second-hand sources but don't have time to check biographies or the voyage journals.  There should be much more detail in N.M. Mathew's St. Thomas Christians of Malabar through Ages: A Fresh Look into Biblical and Historical Evidences (2003), Benedict Vadakkekara's Origin of India's St Thomas Christians: A Historiographical Critique (1995), Peter C. Phan's Christianities in Asia (2011), Em nome de Deus: The Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco da Gama to India, 1497-1499 (2009, edited by Glenn J. Ames) and Nigel Cliff's The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco de Gama (2011).

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Ready for French Cooking?

Lucy H. Yates - The Profession of Cookery from a French Point of View (1894) direct link
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Eveleen De Rivaz - Little French Dinners (1898) direct link
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Auguste Mario - Easy French Cookery (1910) direct link 
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French Cookery for American Homes (1901) direct link
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One main book and then a few supplemental ones.

The Yates book is both an explanation and a guide.  Her point was to help the British both understand French cooking and to adopt more economical practices.  As an example, she describes the French demand for soup (compared to what she says is a British reluctance) as giving a warm start to the meal but also reducing the need for liquids (specifically mentioning wine and the money that saves) and in some cases adjusting for the possible lower quality of following dishes.  These soups are also light with meat and therefore more economical.

Things like that can still be adopted to some degree today though very few of us will install brick ovens into our kitchens.  (Though Yates is only explaining, not recommending.)  She discusses how the French serve vegetables, the butchering of pigs, the use of sauces, how to construct soups, differences in frying techniques, and so on.

She then ends each chapter with some actual recipes, most still quite useful and often familiar.  (Though a Briton would find her pickle-less "cheese sandwich" not quite the thing.)  I'm half-tempted to make the mushroom ketchup ("there is no more useful ketchup for kitchen use").

Lucy H. Yates (1863-c1935) was a British journalist who wrote about cooking and housekeeping, producing many books on that subject (Handbook of Fish Cookery, The Model Kitchen, Marriage on Small Means).  She was a suffragist and did some BBC broadcasts.  There's more info at Persephone Books.

The others are a mixed group. 

The De Rivaz book has thirty menus, generally on the pattern of a soup, fish course, meat, vegetable and a dessert.  The receipes are valid but it's interesting to see how the meal is constructed.

Mario's book is divided into categories (eggs, sauces, roasts) with a short suggestion of menus at the end.  The recipes are a bit more simple.

French Cookery for American Homes is very similar to the Mario book.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A sequel to Homer

Quintus Smyrnaeus - The Fall of Troy (4th century) direct link
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The Iliad closes with Hector's funeral - this work by Quintus opens with that event before proceeding to continue the story of the Trojan War.  It's the only surviving epic from this century.

Written roughly 1200 years after Homer, The Fall of Troy (also called Posthomerica) covers the same ground as some of the lost works in the Trojan War cycle.  Did Quintus have access to those works and base his own on them?  The introduction to this 1912 Loeb claims that even if he did use those works then the very scanty evidence suggests he completely reworked them.  I haven't found more recent scholarship so don't know if that still stands.

(A brief 1879 book by F.A. Paley called Quintus Smyrnaeus and the "Homer" of the Tragic Poets makes a claim that Quintus did draw from the cyclic epics but also that what we know as the work of Homer did as well and what early classical writers called "Homer" was in fact not the texts we know today.  I'd guess this claim has not stood up.)

If you're seriously interested in this work then you will probably want to see the new Loeb edition by Neil Hopkinson.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Investigating saints and martyrs

Hippolyte Delehaye - The Work of the Bollandists through Three Centuries, 1615-1915 (1922) direct link
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Hippolyte Delehaye - The Legends of the Saints: An Introduction to Hagiography (1906) direct link
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As a companion to the last post about martyrs here is a history of the Bollandists, a long-lived group dedicated to compiling and evaluating original documents related to saints and martyrs.  It sounds somewhat routine but what was originally planned as 18 volumes is now running 80 and not yet finished (after four centuries!).  Perhaps more importantly one result of this work (called the Acta Sanctorum) has been to trim apocryphal and unreliable stories and even persons.  For more see the extensive entry in The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Delehaye covers the history as indicated in the title and is well-written (at least in translation) and fairly quick moving.  Those of us fascinated by book hunting, philology, textual editing, religious legends and the like will be drawn to this.  I doubt anybody else has read this far into the post.

Hippolyte Delehaye (1859-1941) was a Jesuit scholar and himself a member of the Bollandists.  Though he's described as a quiet scholar, in 1916 he was arrested for anti-German propaganda.  His work was highly regarded and he received numerous honors, including an honorary doctorate from Oxford.  There's an extensive appreciation and overview by Thomas J. Heffernan in Medieval Scholarship: Biographical Studies on the Formation of a Discipline (1998, edited by Helen Damico).