Friday, March 5, 2010

Controversy in Satire

Satire can be controversial, irreverent and easily misunderstood. In this picture, Professor Ottmar Hoerl presents "Dance with the Devil" an exhibition which ran from October 15-19, 2009. The exhibition was displayed in an open market place in the town of Straubing in southeastern Germany. This open space was once the site of Nazi parades, a site in which the local synagogue was once sacked by Nazis and the town's 42 Jews were deported to concentration camps.

Professor Hoerl of the Nuremberg Academy of Fine Art is installing 1,250 garden gnomes with their arms outstretched in the stiff-armed Hitler salute in an exhibition that addresses the lingering fascist tendencies in German society.

Most of the gnomes are black plastic, but about 20 are painted shiny gold.

The display of Nazi symbols is illegal in Germany but a court ruled in 2009 that the exhibition was clearly satire and thus allowed. Hoerl says: "the fascist idea, the striving to manipulate people or dictate to people ... is latently dangerous and remains present in our society."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Defining Satire

By the eighteenth century Europe had undergone a series of religious wars. Out of this cultural climate grew a belief that social and political life must be based on reason, not religion. This new program of cultural reform as represented by the “Great Age of Dictionaries” stressed paying attention to all forms of language. Language needed to be purified of passionate rhetoric and misleading metaphors, which, like religion, were seen as promoting discord and divisiveness within society.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Johnson, Samuel. A dictionary of the English language...London: 1755.

On display is a first-edition copy (one of two volumes) of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the New English Language (1755). It is considered one of the most detailed and comprehensive description of the English language ever compiled. Although it was not the first dictionary in English, it contained 42,279 entries, easily surpassing the number of entries of current rival dictionaries. It formed the foundation of other dictionaries in England and across Europe and was the leading English dictionary until 1884, with the appearance of the New English Dictionary (now the Oxford English Dictionary). In his definition of “satire,” Johnson quotes the most famous satirists of the period, including Alexander Pope, Francis Bacon, and Jonathan Swift. Of particular interest is a quote from John Dryden distinguishing “proper satire” from the emotionally charged and visceral lampoon, perhaps reflecting the new era of reason and emotional restraint that was characteristic of the period.

Gift of William M. Elkins

Diderot, Denis. Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Vol. 5. Paris, 1755.

On display is a Volume 5 of Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie, published in 1755. In this almost comical passage written by Diderot (1713–1784) in the section under Philosophy, Diderot attacks the satiric genre for its inherent inadequacies and literary limitations over time.

I detest satires in a book a hundred times more than I favor praise: personal attacks are odious in any kind of writing; you are sure to amuse most people when you make a point of feeding their mean spirit. The tone of satire is most out of place in a dictionary, and a satirical dictionary, the only kind we lack, would be the most impertinent and tedious dictionary conceivable. In a great book, such offhand remarks, subtle allusions, and dainty flourishes as would make the fortune of a frivolous tale must be wholly avoided; barbs that have to be explained go stale, or soon become unintelligible. It would be quite ridiculous to require a commentary in a work of which the various sections are intended to provide reciprocal interpretation. . . . .

The Encyclopédie originated as a simple French translation of Ephraim Chamber’s Cylopaedia by Jean Le Rond d’Alembert. It eventually became an instrument of radical and revolutionary thought when Denis Diderot joined d’Alembert as chief co-editor and contributor. The Encyclopédie is considered the most influential encyclopedia when it was published. It was written over a twenty-year period and was organized using an alphabetical arrangement. The complete set is comprised of 72,000 entries contained in 35 volumes, including 17 volumes of text and 11 volumes of plates, primarily dedicated to technological illustrations. Over 100 authors contributed to the set, including well-known authors such as Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau. At various times throughout its publication history, the Encyclopédie was politically censored and written in secret, contributing to its popularity and widespread circulation.

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The Shahnama

The Shahnama or the Books of Kings, begun about 975 A.D. It is dedicated in its final form to Mahmud of Ghazna in about 1010 A.D. It is the longest poem ever written by one person. It contains over 50,000 verses and was probably written by Firdausi (Abdul Qasim Mansur (c. 940–c. 1020) of Tus (Northern Iran). Firdausi, a Persian poet, has been called the Homer of Persia. Based on a poem by the Persian poet Daqiqi (d. about 980) which included thousands of line from the story of Zoroaster, it is regarded as the national epic of Iran and is generally acclaimed as the most magnificent of all Persian epic poems, becoming a model for later Iranian epics. This monumental work is credited with rescuing the Persian language from near-extinction. It is considered one of the most frequently illustrated Iranian books.

Satire in the preface of the Shahnama

Literary satire within the Western European tradition has come to refer to writings that display a critical or mocking overtone. Classical Persian literature, however, has no single word equivalent to “satire.” Instead, it distinguishes between two terms—Hajv, meaning “inventive” or “lampoon” and Hazl (“comical”), referring to a more light-hearted type of satire. While the Shahnama is not a satirical work per se, some versions of the Shahnama begin with a stinging satire of Sultan Mahmud located in the preface of the text. This type of satire is one of the more popular examples of Hajv during the classical period of Persia, the time period after the Islamic conquest in the seventh century. Firdausi had originally dedicated the Shahnama to Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (971 A.D.–1030 A.D.), and had included an introductory eulogy for the sultan in its preface. It is said that when Firdausi completed his work and presented it to the Sultan, he had been offered significantly less than what he had originally been promised. Feeling cheated, Firdausi rejected the Sultan’s offer. This response both angered and embarrassed the Sultan who then condemned Firdausi to death by being trampled upon by elephants. Firdausi fled for his life to another town, seeking protection from the reigning prince. He then sought vengeance against the Sultan by writing a biting satire on Mahmud, whom he depicted as a pact-breaking king of peasant origin:

Long years this Shahnama I toiled to complete,
That the King might award me some recompense meet,
But naught save a heart wrung with grief and despair
Did I get from those promises empty as air!

Had the sire of the King been some Prince of renown,
My forehead would surely have been graced by a crown!
Were his mother a lady of high pedigree,
In silver and gold I'd have stood to the knee!

But, being by birth not a prince but a boor,
The praise of the noble he could not endure!

Shahnama (1550-1600 A.D.)

The significance of the Shahnama is not limited to Persian literature and history, however. Often used for political purposes, later rulers used the Shahnama to legitimize their governance by establishing their place within the historical tradition of Iran. This was done by commissioning illustrated copies of this manuscript. This practice began in the Mongol period, with the earliest known illustrated texts dating from c. 1300. Even Non-Iranian rulers (Turks and Mongols) who adopted Persian culture and traditions of kingship used the Shahnama for purposes of self-identity.

Illuminated title page of a Shahnama with preface.
Lewis O 51, f. 1v-2r

Shahnama (Late Fifteenth Century)

The Shahnama recounts Iran’s history in verse, beginning with the mythical rule of King Kayumars and ends with the murder of the last Sassanian King Yazdagird III (632–652) whose empire fell to the Muslim Arab conquerors in the seventh century. In writing the Shahnama, Firdausi aimed to rekindle Persian pride and protect Persians from Arabic domination.

Illuminated title page of a Shahnama with preface.
Lewis O.50, fol. 1r

Biblical Satire: Meghillat Esther (Heb. מְגִלַּת אֶסְתּר)

The Book of Esther, also known as the Megillah (scroll), is part of both Jewish and Christian canonical scripture. It claims to be an historical account of how Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai helped to avert an insidious plot to annihilate the Jewish people by Haman, King Ahaseurus’ right hand man. This series of events are said to take place in Shusan or Susa, which was part of the Persian Empire, probably during the reign of King Xerxes I (486–465 B.C.).

Despite the threat of genocide, the story of Esther is considered one of the more satirically funny and instructive stories within the Hebrew Bible. It reveals a highly legalistic society devoid of social justice with a legislative process led by a foolish king who is easily manipulated by buffoons in his court. It is also punctuated by a series of ironic twists and role reversals. The ultimate satiric irony is that it is Esther, a Jewish woman and the King’s consort, who saves her people from total annihilation, despite the discriminatory laws passed by King Ahaseurus, relegating women to a subservient status and mandating the destruction of the Jewish people.

The satiric spirit of the Book of Esther is most visible during the Jewish Holiday of Purim, a Jewish holiday commemorating the deliverance of the Persian Jews from Haman’s evil plot to exterminate them as recorded in the Book of Esther. The end of the book stipulates that the event be remembered through an annual festive celebration. Since antiquity, Jews have celebrated Purim with a two-day festivity beginning with the reading of the Megillah in the Synagogue. Celebrants are encouraged to make noise with hand-held noisemakers upon hearing Haman’s name, drink wine and dress up in costumes, perhaps referring to Esther's concealment of her Jewish heritage to the King.

The satiric sprit of the Megillah also gave rise to the tradition of Purm-shpils (plays), a form of satirical, comic monologue delivered by a "Purim Rabbi", a student who was selected to parody his teacher. By the 18th century these satiric plays evolved into larger plays involving music and dance and bearing no relation to the story of Esther. These plays are said to be the precursors of the Yiddish Theatre.

An Illuminated Section From the Book of Esther, on Vellum, Hebrew, c. early 18th century.

This manuscript scroll is written on Vellum (calf skin). The decorative elements and illustrative style within the ornamental border envelop the text and consist of fruits, flowers, birds, a sign of the Zodiac on top of each column and a scene within the story of Esther on the bottom of the scroll. The scribe’s name or date of production is not given. However, the decorative elements and the illustrative style suggest that this manuscript was copied in Italy during the eighteenth century.

Lewis O 143

An Illuminated Section From the Book of Esther, on Parchment, Hebrew, c. 17th century.

This manuscript scroll contains the Book of Esther. It consists of 21 page-size sections. All sections have green floral borders and small hand-colored illustrations on the bottom, depicting important scenes within the story. The manuscript is attached to a wooden roll with one decorative silver knob missing. Although the scribe’s name and date of production is not given, its decorative elements and illustrative style suggests that this manuscript was probably copied in Italy during the early part of the 17th century.

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Visual Satire in the New Testament

While we do not usually equate the Bible with satire, its value as a powerful satirical source among writers and illustrators has long been recognized. Because of its broad and universal appeal the Bible lends itself as an effective satiric vehicle. In the famous woodcut by the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553) The Whore of Babylon, a Christian allegorical figure of evil mentioned in the Book of Revelation 11:7 and associated with the Antichrist, is shown wearing the triple tiara worn by the popes of Rome. In creating this image, Cranach equated the Roman Church with the Antichrist, an uncommonly bold and controversial act for its time. In fact, these satirical images eventually proved too provocative. Despite its popularity—3000 copies are said to have been printed quickly sold—the Duke Georg of Ducal Saxony (1471–1539) prohibited its continued sale and use, identifying the woodcuts as being the most offensive aspect of Luther's vernacular New Testament. Melchior Lotter, the printer, tried to capitalize on the book’s success by printing a second edition in December. He appeased the Duke by reducing the number of tiaras worn in the December edition. This allowed him to reprint the book quickly and circulate it within neighboring Catholic territories. Pirated editions soon surfaced and some printers re-introduced the controversial tiaras that identified the Pope with the antichrist.

Martin Luther. Das Newe Testament Deutzch (commonly known as the September Testament or September Bible). Wittenberg. Melchior Lotter, 1522.

This is a first edition, complete and perfect copy in a contemporary binding of the September Testament. It is Luther’s first translation of the New Testament from the original Greek into German. Luther composed it during his seclusion at Wartburg Castle and delivered the manuscript to Melchior Lotter the Younger, the book’s printer, in March 1522. Only three other copies are known to exist in America.

A Gift from D. Jacques Benoliel

The Satire of Horace: Ludentum Dicere Verum

Although Greek poets cultivated the spirit of satire in comedy and iambic poetry, satire as a genre with a distinct tradition is believed to have begun in Rome. One of the earliest satirists whose work remains intact is Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65–8 B.C.) Considered to be one of the greatest lyric poets of the world, his poetry ranges from lampoons or iambi (Epodes), sermons/conversations (Satires and Epistles) to his lyrics (Odes). Horace is credited with contributing to the emergence of satire as a literary genre and with influencing subsequent literary satire.

Quintus Horatius Flaccus. Opera. Venice: Aldus Manutius. 1501.

Unlike our modern concern conception of satire that is often associated with ridicule and attack, Horace used satire to “playfully say what it true” (ludentum dicere verum) as he wrote about a wide range of issues, personalities and situations. The works of Horace were attractive to an increasingly literate public during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as his philosophy showed that one could live morally without religious faith. Printers viewed Horatian works as guaranteed bestsellers, which may explain why many copies of his works surfaced after the invention of metallic moveable type. It is therefore somewhat ironic that this copy shown (a small octavo edition probably intended for the general public) proved unsuccessful. It is possible that the book’s lack of success may be attributed to its overall look which may have disappointed an audience more accustomed to extravagant-looking books.


Quintus Horatius Flaccus. Opera cum quibusdam annotationibus Jacobi Locher. Strassburg: Johann [Reinhard] Gruninger. 12 March 1498.

In this illustrated page, Horace appears to be seated at his desk. But in a previous 1497 edition of Locher’s Panegyricus ad Maximilian Tragoedia De Turcis et Soldano (Turks and their Sulton) printed by Johann Gruninger this image is also used as a portrait of Jacob Locher, poet laureate. The repeated use of woodblock illustrations by printers was not uncommon within texts of that period. This copy is the first illustrated edition of the works of Horace, containing more than 160 woodcuts.


A Taxonomy of Fools

Das Narrenschiff or "Ship of Fools" (1494) is considered Sebastian Brant's most famous work. It is a long satirical poem written in humorous verse, accompanied by comical woodcuts, each with a different fool, describing assorted vices and folly. The chapters in the book draw upon a central theme, which is of a ship laden with and navigated by fools on their way to the fools' paradise of Narragonia. Some scholars argue that the popularity of Brandt’s work paved the way for a new type of satirical literature, signifying a stylistic change from medieval satirical allegory to contemporary satire.

Shown here is a two volume set of Alexander Barclay’s Ship of Fools originally written in 1509. It is an English adaptation mostly derived from Jacob Locher's Latin's adaptation, Stultifera Navis (1497) based on Brandt's medieval satire Das Narrenschiff (1494). Barclay modified and translated Locher’s Latin text. Barclay's version proved no less popular than prior versions. It is cited as one of the first international bestsellers, owing to its style of English that was easily readable by a growing literate audience and because of its beautiful and humorous woodcuts. Many of these woodcuts have been attributed to Albrecht Dürer of Nuremberg, one of the great Renaissance artists and wood cutters of the time.

Much of Brant's satire is also directed against the clergy in reaction to the abuses of the Holy Roman Church that culminated in the Reformation movement. Brant’s satire, however, falls short of supporting the Reformation movement. Instead, he was a devout Catholic who supported Maximilian I, the German king who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1491. Brant believed that his satires could help instruct German citizens and modify their behavior as the new torch bearers of the Roman Catholic Church.

Sebastian Brandt. The Ship of Fools. Translated by Alexander Barclay. London: 1874. Volume 1.

Abstract concepts personified in medieval allegories, such as Lust, Slothfulness, Adultery and Gluttony. Vice and Folly are now characteristics found in a wide cross-section of society, such as the bibliophile (librarian?) seen here who does not read his own books.

A Gift of William M. Elkins

Sebastian Brandt. The Ship of Fools. Translated by Alexander Barclay. London. 1874. Volume 2.

While much of Brant's satire is directed against the clergy, such as the “claterynge and bablynge of prestos” shown above, Brant fell short of supporting the Reformation. Instead, he was a devout Catholic who supported Maximilian I, the German king who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1491. Brant believed that his satires could help instruct German citizens to modify their behavior to become the new torch bearers of the Roman Catholic Church.

Gift of William M. Elkins
Gift Of Willliam M. Elkins


First published in 1606 Volpone is Jonson’s most performed play and is often considered his satiric masterpiece. It is a story of greed and lust. Its main characters are given Italian names that epitomize their flawed personalities—Volpone is the sly fox and Voltore the ravenous vulture. Volpone exploits his neighbors when he appeals to their greed and pretends to be deathly ill. Believing they would inherit his fortune his neighbors lavish him with gifts in the hopes of winning his favor. In the end, Mosca (which means mosquito in Italian), Volpone's servant, betrays his master and foils Volpone's scheme by revealing his scam to the magistrates of Venice.

This copy of Volpone or the Foxe is included in this first folio printed in 1616 by Stansby. This published collection of works contributed to the development of English literature and Renaissance drama by elevating the status of stage plays from ephemera to serious literature.

Gift of William M. Elkins

Ben Jonson’s Satiric Voice

Benjamin (Ben) Jonson (1572?––1637) was an English dramatist, poet and actor and one of the most influential writers during the Jacobean era (1603-1642). He is best known for his hard-edged, satiric comedies which exposed individual and societal vice. Jonson wrote at a time when London was a booming metropolis on the verge of becoming Europe’s largest city as it transitioned from a stagnant agricultural economy to a rapidly expanding early market economy, driven by the impact of trade. The benefits of rapid growth and increased wealth, however, were not shared by all and contributed to rising tensions and economic disparity between social classes. Jonson’s disillusioned view of mankind was forged during the reign of James I and his court of self-seeking opportunists. Jonson’s satires often addressed government corruption, human vice and other themes, which resonated strongly within his contemporary audience.

Well-versed in Latin and Greek theatre and inspired by the rediscovery of classical texts during the English Renaissance, Jonson wrote within a classical framework. This characteristic style served to distinguish him from other contemporary playwrights, most notably William Shakespeare, who he thought pandered to the masses. Jonson died in 1637 and was buried beneath Westminster Abbey under the inscription “O Rare Ben Johnson.”

Wycherley, William. The Plain-Dealer: A Comedy ... London: Printed by T.N. for J. Magnes and R. Bentley, 1677.

Despite a short five-year career that resulted in the output of only four plays, William Wycherley (1641–1715) is considered one of the most influential writers of Restoration comedy. His satirical comedies were biting social commentaries, targeting individual vices such as hypocrisy, pretense, and avarice. His most popular satiric comedy, The Plain Dealer, was first produced in 1676 by the King’s Company at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane and first published in 1677. It is a satire on the corruptive effects of materialism and social conventions on love, marriage, and relationships. Manly, the Plain-Dealer and the protagonist in the play, bears a strong resemblance in concept to Moliere’s Misanthrope. As the play progresses the comedic satire develops into a darker, tragic indictment of society itself as Manly eventually embodies all the negatives characteristics that he ridicules and attacks.

Wycherley cites a well-known phrase taken from Horace’s Sermons 1.10: “Ridiculum acri Fortius et melius magnas plerumque secat res” or “Ridicule often decides matters of importance more effectually, and in a better manner, than severity of satire.”

Gift of William M. Elkins

Alexander Pope: Imitations of Horace

Alexander Pope (1688–1744) is considered one of the most important poets and satirists of the Enlightenment. As one of the major influences on English literature, he helped shape, reform, and critique early eighteenth-century British verse. The extent of Pope’s influence is evident as the first half of the eighteenth century was, at one point, designated by scholars as the “Age of Pope.” Pope is known to have been one of the first authors in England who supported himself exclusively through his literary works.

In the following two “imitations” of Horace, Pope uses satirical verse to both attack and defend himself against contemporary authors whom he deemed inferior. He was also critical of the government of Prime Minister Robert Walpole under the reign of George II. Pope’s use of imitation was characteristic of Enlightenment Augustan poets, who believed that imitation was more important than originality. During this period new expressions of truth through poetry were considered presumptuous and were shunned upon. Thus, the challenge for the contemporary Augustan poet was to express oneself within the framework of classical works, which had already discovered and expressed any “truth” that needed to be revealed.

The First Satire Of The Second Book of Horace, Imitated in a Dialogue between Alexander Pope of Twickenham ... (London, 1733)

In this first edition copy, Pope imitates or appropriates Horace’s satirical verse in order to criticize life under George II, who displayed an indifference to the arts. Pope also questioned the widespread corruption of Walpole’s government. Pope purposely published Horace’s original text in Latin next to his own version in order to demonstrate to his readers how he reworked and departed from the ancient Roman Horatian text.

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The First Epistle Of The Second Book of Horace, Imitated (“To Augustus”) (London: Printed for T. Cooper, 1737).

On display is the advertisement to the First Epistle of The Second Book of Horace. Here Pope explains to his reader why he uses Horace’s satire and mentions how he modifies Horace’s work to suit a contemporary audience. Pope emulates Horace in addressing his poem to Augustus. Caesar Augustus was Horace’s patron, but Augustus was the second name of King George II. Pope imitates Horace’s appreciative tone in addressing Augustus, but modifies the words so as to mock George (Augustus) II for his corrupt government and his incompetence toward the arts.

Gift of William M. Elkins

Don Quixote

Originally Quixote de la Mancha (1605-1615) by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616),Don Quixote is a satire on the medieval chivalric romance. It is a classic story about a poor man, Don Quixote, whose mind has been shaped by reading too many romances. Convinced that he is a knight, he persuades Sancho Panza to join him as they wonder off to correct the wrongs of the world. Accompanying Don Quixote is his squire, Sancho Panza, a peasant who seeks to profit from his master’s misguided adventures, while Dulcinea del Toboso, a peasant girl, is transfigured into a princess in the minds of both knight and squire. Its influence on our literature is extensive. In the seventeenth century Don Quixote’s burlesque, slapstick style influenced Samuel Butler in his mock epic Hudibras.

Cervantes, Saavedra Miguel. Don Quixote: Illustrated by Gustave Dore. London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1866.

Gustave Doré (1832–83), one the most popular French designers of wood-engraved book illustration of the mid-19th century originally illustrated a French edition of Cervantes's Don Quixote in 1863. He became increasingly popular in England in the 1860s. Shown here is his illustration of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. These images influenced subsequent readers and artists ideas of the physical "look" of both characters.

A Gift of William M. Elkins

Social Change through Graphic Satire

Hogarth's Gin Lane (1751) is a satire on rampant gin consumption and its devastating effects on London’s working-class poor. Hogarth believed he could help reform the drinking habits of the poor by revealing the negative effects of their gin addiction. He designed this illustration to aid the anti-gin campaign that sought to galvanize support for a bill that would impose significant restrictions on the consumption and sales of cheap gin. These efforts eventually lead to the passage of the Gin Act of 1751, a legislative bill that helped to decrease gin consumption by doubling the tax on Gin and prohibiting its distribution to unlicensed merchants.

William Hogarth (1697–1764) is considered one the most influential British graphic satirists of the eighteenth century. Although Hogarth was a highly reputable painter, his better-known work consisted of prints made through the medium of copper-plate engravings. His popular prints satirized the follies of the rich, as well as the societal and economic inequities confronting the poor.

Gin Lane from the Original Design by Hogarth from The Works of William Hogarth in a Series of engravings: with descriptions.

This engraving of Gin Lane from Hogarth’s original design is set in the the parish of St Giles, a slum district in London. It is rich with satirical images that reflect the horror and despair caused by the overconsumption of gin by London’s working poor.

Gift of William M. Elkins

Westminster Hall. The First Day of Term. A Satirical Poem. Engraved by C.Mosley, drawn by Hubert Gravelot (London: Printed by Laurie & Whittle, 1797.)

Depicted here is the interior of Westminster hall during the first day of the term when judges of the different courts take their seats to begin their duties. The satirical poem below not only satirizes British judicial system but guides us through some of the characters portrayed in the engraving. Thus we see a figure offering money to one of the “Wreathock’s” gang in order to procure a false witness. The poem alludes to William Wreathock, a notorious solicitor who was known for masterminding false alibis. At one point he had been sentenced to death for his criminal practices, pardoned and finally disbarred in 1758.

LC28 2.1

Hudibras. Burning The Rumps. Plate X1. The burning of the Rumps at Temple Bar.

Shown here is an engraving from the original design of William Hogarth, one the foremost artists of the day. Hudibras, originally written by Samuel Butler (1612–80), wrote the mock-heroic poem as a warning against the dangers of religious (Puritanical) fanaticism during the Civil War period of English history Butler’s work is said to have been inspired by the 17th-century Spanish novel Don Quixote, which had been published only 50 years earlier in 1605.

LC28 1

Satire in Journalism: La Caricature

Political caricature flourished in the second quarter of nineteenth-century France. This was owing to a convergence of factors, including the use of lithography that allowed printers and artists to produce prints more rapidly and inexpensively, the proliferation of professional journalism, and the reintroduction of censorship laws during the reign of Louis-Philippe.

In July of 1830, the citizens of France reacted against the repressive policies of Charles X (Louis XVIII’s successor), forcing the last of the Bourbon kings to abdicate his throne. In an effort to preserve the monarchy a group of political leaders appointed the duc d’Orléans as the new monarch with the mission of defending the Charter of 1830, a revised constitution that guaranteed the rights and freedoms of French citizens and the abolition of censorship laws. The duc d’Orléans assumed the title of Louis-Philippe and was called the “Citizen King.” or Le Roi Bourgeois. He was the only French Monarch to come to power as a result of a popular uprising against another monarch.

La Caricature, a weekly subscription-based journal, became one the most famous French satirical newspapers of the nineteenth century. Through a series of satirical drawings and lithographs, many of them hand-colored by well-known caricaturists and writers of the period, La Caricature relentlessly attacked the July Monarchy (as the administration was known) and Louis Philippe specifically for failing to uphold the Charter of 1830 and the abolition of the censorship laws.

In an effort to silence Charles Philipon (1800–1862, sole owner of La Caricature) , the French government repeatedly brought Philipon to trial, seized numerous publications and lithographs which they deemed to be seditious, and imposed excessive fines on Philipon. The court cases were widely followed by the French and reported by La Caricature and other prominent newspapers.

J.J. Grandville, “Ombres portees.” La Caricature, 18 November, 1830.

This lithograph, part of a series, was not specifically commissioned by Philipon for La Caricature. As a result, the artist was free to design his illustrations independently. Philipon purposely gave artists creative independence, in order to attract the most talented artists of time to his journal. The lithographs were inserted and not bound in the issues, which allowed subscribers to display or exhibit the artwork should they choose to do so. Many of the lithographs, similar to the one shown here, were in color and could only be obtained by subscribing to the journal. This clever technique employed by Philipon encouraged readers to subscribe, since lithographs in La Caricature could not be purchased independently from print shops.

Note the shadows of the figures which cleverly suggest the true nature of the figures portrayed. The man holding the scissors represents Louis-Philippe and his unjust censorship laws. The man’s shadow is the devil.

Gift of Lessing J. Rosenwald 58-873

Philipon and Anon., “Project du monument expia-poire a elever sur la place de la Revolution, precisement a la place ou fut guillotine Louis XVI,” ...

Although the image of a pear may not appear subversive to a contemporary audience, it was widely recognized among the French as a jab at Louis-Philippe and his government. Immediately upon its publication the French government prosecuted Philipon for inciting regicide. By drawing a pear where Louis XVI was once beheaded, the government argued that Philipon encouraged the overthrow of Louis-Phillipe. Philipon countered that he could, at most, be acccused of making jam. It is interesting to note that the word poire, which is French for pear, became French slang for “fat head” a term that is said to have originated with Philipon. The pear became Philipon’s most enduring and celebrated creation.

As an added point of interest the Free Library building was modeled on the Place de La Revolution.

Gift of Lessing J. Rosenwald 58-874

Berquet, “Les Favoris de La Poire,” La Caricature, 21 March 1833.

Unperturbed by legislation which made it illegal to use the pear to mock or ridicule the king, artists continued to use the image as a symbol of political resistance against the Orléanist Regime and against authority in general. Shown here is a hand-colored lithograph by Bouquet, a regular contributor to the journal. The artist depicts Louis-Philippe as a pear with two of his ministers, d’Agoult and Barthe.

This print was taken from Philipon’s L’ association pour la liberte de la presse, also known as L’association mensuelle lithographique. For an additional cost per month, members received the “lithographie mensuelle” folded into their copy of the last Thursday of the month of La Caricature. These lithographs were larger and more polished than those in La Caricature. L’association mensuelle lithographique was created by Philipon in order to raise additional funds, possibly to help defray the legal fees and fines incurred by the journal.

Gift of Lessing J. Rosenwald 58-875

Anonymous, “Machine infernale de Sauzet,” La Caricature, 8 September, 1835.

The government of Louis Philippe introduced the restrictive legislation known as the September Laws in 1835, which eventually caused the newspaper to shut down. The “Machine infernale de Sauzet” appeared in what would be the journal’s last issue. In this illustration attributed to an anynomous artist, Philipon is depicted in the foreground with a severed hand. The image represented the fatal blow given to press by this newly introduced legislation.

Gift of Lessing J. Rosenwald 58-877

The Story of Ferdinand: A Satire on Aggression

Considered a classic of children’s literature and a satire on aggression, The Story of Ferdinand (1936) is perhaps the best-known work by American author Munro Leaf (1905-1976), who worked in collaboration with illustrator Robert Lawson (1892–1957). It is about a gentle bull who prefers smelling flowers to fighting aggressively in a ring like other bulls. When Ferdinand gets stung by a bee, his reaction is mistaken for bravery and he is eventually taken to participate in a bull fight in Madrid. Once in the ring, however, Ferdinand chooses to smell the flowers in a señoritas hair over participating in a bullfight. Published shortly before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), the book ignited a political controversy soon after its release. Leaf’s tale of a Spanish bull who refuses to fight in Madrid was interpreted by many critics as supporting a non-intervention stance on the war.

Despite its success, The Story of Ferdinand had been originally turned down by Little, Brown and Company in Boston and was barely accepted for publication by Viking for a small print run of 500 copies. As a children’s book, The Story of Ferdinand was moderately successful, with 8,000 copies sold in its first six months of publication. However, sales sky-rocketed to 8,000 copies a week, once it drew the attention of an adult market with its satiric and controversial implications. Today the book is an international classic with translations in over 60 languages. After World War II, the book became recognized as an international symbol of peace.

Artist’s Dummy with Original Jacket

An original, unbound dummy or mock-up that once belonged to Robert Lawson. A dummy or mock up copy is an original prototype of a proposed book intended to show a publisher the bulk and page size of a book and to help the publisher plan the layout of the book jacket. Shown here are two of the thirty-seven single sheets of Bristol board with drawings in soft pencil. All artwork and text was later published except for a few variant illustrations and a few text corrections in Lawson’s hand. Contained in the dummy is the original illustration used for the book cover.

Gift of Frederick R. Gardner

Leaf, Munro. The Story of Ferdinand. New York: Viking, 1936.

In referring to the book’s controversial satiric interpretation, Munro Leaf remarked, “It was attacked by everybody! . . . It was called ‘Red propaganda,’ a bitter satire of pacifism, on the one hand, and a pro-Fascist tract on the other.” Leaf, however, was quick to dismiss these interpretations. Shown here is a first edition, presentation copy of The Story of Ferdinand inscribed by Leaf to his friend “Rob” (Robert Lawson). The comical note written by Leaf to Lawson seemingly pokes fun at Ferdinand and perhaps reflects the author’s true intent in creating this children’s classic.

Lawson 2002-154

Satiric Pamphlets: George Cruikshank and William Hone

On display are bound pamphlets that reflect George Cruikshank’s early work and collaboration with William Hone. The Stamp Act of 1810 increased the prices of books and newspapers, and pamphlets were a low-cost alternative. The affordability of these pamphlets helped to broaden literacy and was ideal for exposing and ridiculing the foolishness and corruption in government and society. In the 1840s the importance of the pamphlet diminished with the emergence of the mass-market newspaper press, which effectively lowered the price of newspapers and books and made them more affordable.

George Cruikshank (1792–1878) is considered one of the most prolific English illustrators and satirists. He began his career as a child during the Golden Age of English Satire (1770–1820) producing political and social caricatures. These satires were sold as individually etched sheets or in pamphlets.

William Hone (1780–1842) was a popular bookseller and publisher. He is considered one of the most influential radical journalists in the early part of the nineteenth century and was well known for publishing anti-government and satirical pamphlets.

Hone, William (1780–1842). The Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder, a National Toy, With Fourteen Step Scenes; and Illustrations in Verse...

The “Trial of Queen Caroline,” otherwise known as the “delicate investigation,” is the subject of Cruikshank and Hone’s satiric attack. George IV (1762–1830) leveled a bogus adultery charge against his consort, Queen Caroline of Brunswick (1768–1821) after she refused her estranged husband’s financial offer to renounce her title. The public overwhelmingly supported the Queen and recognized the frivolity of the King’s lawsuit. All charges were subsequently dropped. This bogus trial became fertile grounds for satire, which targeted the foolish behavior of the king and his court.

This pamphlet sold extremely well as evidenced by its numerous editions of publication. It became the most popular pamphlet printed after The Political House That Jack Built. Each pamphlet was originally sold with a toy ladder (not shown). Hone used the concept both as a marketing gimmick and as a satiric device. The ladder contained fourteen steps, each of which represented by a title of an unfolding drama and culminating in the defeat and humiliation of the king.

LC 9:336

Hone, William (1780–1842) The political house that Jack built...with thirteen cuts... 14 ed. London W. Hone, 1819. A political satire...

One of the best-known satiric pamphlets by Cruikshank and Hone is The Political House that Jack Built, an illustrated pamphlet that sold over 100,000 copies soon after its publication. It is considered one of the most influential satires to appear in the early nineteenth century. In the pamphlet, Hone appropriates the popular nursery rhyme to attack the decadent government of King George IV and the corrupt legislature for imposing limits on freedom of expression. The “political house” in Hone’s pamphlet refers to the inalienable rights of the English People such as the Magna Carta, The Bill of Rights and habeas corpus, which were depicted as being ravaged by corrupt politicians and monarchs. Cruikshank added 13 woodcuts to Hone’s adaptation of the text. The illustrations consisted of caricatures of government ministers and officials, most notably of the Duke of Wellington and the Prince Regent. Cruikshank’s visual satire contributed to the pamphlet’s success. The readers who were unable to read or grasp Hone’s satiric captions and text would have been more likely to recognize the contemporary political figures depicted and ridiculed by Cruikshank.

LC 9:333

Three Trials of William Hone

Hone’s commitment to advancing political reform by publishing pamphlets ridiculing the government resulted in three famous court trials. In December 1817, Hone underwent three consecutive trials on three different days for three parodies he published: one of the Church of England Catechism (including the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments); one of the church of England Litany; and one of the Athanasian Creed. Hone was charged with printing and publishing libelous and scandalous materials against the Christian religion

LC 9:317

Address to The Jury

Hone conducted his own defense and argued successfully that he never intended to “excite ridicule against the Christian religion… [his] intention was merely political.” In this address Hone states that he followed a legally accepted tradition of using parodies of scripture or the sacred text in order to legitimately attack what he considered to be a corrupt government. Hone argued that the suit brought against him was a politically motivated attempt on behalf of the Tory-lead government to silence him for his persistent attacks against them...

LC 9:316

Satire Gone Awry

By the 1860s, much of the American public was seized by “Yellow Peril,” the fear that Chinese immigration was overtaking the West and threatening American jobs among white laborers. This fear was particularly pronounced in 1869 when a commercial depression coincided with the completion of the transcontinental railroad. It is within this context that Bret Harte wrote his poem The Heathen Chinee, originally known as Plain Language from Truthful James. It was first published in September 1870in the Overland Monthly, a magazine edited by Harte. Harte wrote the poem as a satirical attack on the anti-Chinese sentiment that gripped the nation, particularly among Irish laborers who competed with Chinese immigrants for low wage work. The subtlety of Harte’s satire, however, was lost on a predominantly white readership that took it on face value and embraced it as expressing their own sentiments. Unfortunately, the release of the poem coincided with some of the worst anti-Chinese violence, culminating in the Chinese massacre of 1871 with the death of over twenty Chinese. The poem became an overnight success upon publication and was reprinted in periodicals throughout the country, making Harte one of the most recognized literary figures in American in 1870. Harte, who was never fond of the poem, commented that it was “the worst poem I ever wrote, possibly the worst poem anyone ever wrote.”

In the poem, narrated by “Truthful” James, James and his fellow miner Bill Nye play a card game of Euchre against Ah Sin (I sin), a Chinese immigrant. Ah Sin, who pretends he does not know how to play, is up to his own tricks and manages to win every hand. When Nye realizes that this “Heathen Chinee” has out cheated him, he comments, “We are ruined by Chinese cheap labor.” This remark sums up the American working class’ frustration with Chinese immigrants.

The Heathen Chinee. Fac-simile of the original written for the Overland Monthly...Together with the Corrected Letter Press. San Franci

First published in the September 1870 issue of “The Overland Monthly,” which was edited by Harte himself, Harte uses a game of Euchre as the setting to satirize the prevailing sentiments that America was being “ruined by Chinese cheap labor.” Although the poem’s success prompted many unauthorized reprints it also prompted the original publisher to reprint the poem in a more attractive format, similar to the original magazine publication, but with a portrait of Harte on the cover.

BH 99-165

Harte, Bret. The Heathen Chinee. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. Boston, published by the James R. Osgood and Company, 1871.

Harte, discouraged after failing to stop the publication of the unauthorized Western News Company edition with its illustrations (which distorted his satirical message), resigned himself to its success and capitalized on its ill-begotten popularity. On April 29, 1871, the first authorized version of his poem with illustrations by Sol Eytinge Jr., the staff illustrator at James R. Osgood & Co., was published in the popular American illustrated magazine, Every Saturday. This Authorized Version enjoyed the same success as the Western News Company version, but without the misleading graphic illustrations depicting mob violence against Ah Sin.

BH 90-466

Harte, Bret. The Heathen Chinee. Illustrated by Joseph Hull. Chicago, published by the Western News Company, 1870.

Since copyright laws were difficult to enforce, the Western News Company of Chicago capitalized on the popularity of Harte’s poem by issuing the first illustrated, pirated edition, packaged in nine loose pages and sold in an engraved envelope. This pirated edition sold thousands of copies, much to Harte’s dismay, partly owing to Hull’s illustrations expressing popular anti-Chinese sentiment. In the illustration shown here, Hull depicts Ah Sin as being violently attacked by Nye and by an angry drunken mob, neither of which are mentioned in Harte's verse.

BH 90-460

Charles Dickens: Victorian Satire

Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870), pen name "Boz" is perhaps one of the most well-read and popular English novelists. Many of Dickens’s works constitute a humorous yet visceral satire of the Victorian age (1832-1901) although the plot of some his early novels address British society from as early as the 1780s. In his satiric vision of society Dickens attacks the social and economic horrors of the Industrial Revolution (late 18th century and the early l9th century). His memorable characters and intricate storylines often function as a stinging social commentary that has occasionally engendered social reform. His popularity as a writer continues until today witnessed by the fact that none of his works have gone out of print.

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. With Illustrations by Phiz. (London: Chapman and Hall, 1843-1844) Original Parts.

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit is a satirical comedy of a young British Martin Chuzzlewit who eventually travels to America to seek his fortune. Dickens's novel emerged as a scathing satire of American culture, which included a satire of American journalism as an unscrupulous and scandal-driven industry. Dickens portrayed many of the Americans characters as a bunch of liars, snobs, bullies, aggressive savages and swindlers.

In this passage, Martin Chuzzlewit has just disembarked from the ship appropriately named “The Screw”, which had taken him from England to New York. He is immediately greeted by “Colonel Dive”, Editor of the “New York Rowdy Journal” and the young correspondent Jefferson Brick both of whom epitomize the corrupt and unscrupulous nature of the press in America. Martin then meets an unnamed American stranger at a party to which Colonel Dive has brought him. Martin and the stranger begin a candid conversation on the role of satire in America.

The passage reflects Dickens awareness that his satirical novel would garner criticism in America for its biting satire. It is also reflects how Dickens may have wanted his readership to view him: as an outspoken writer, willing to voice the truth as he saw it, despite public criticism. The novel initially garnered poor reviews due partly to the negative response it elicited among Americans. Dickens maintained that his work was neither anti-American nor different than any of his prior satirical works, such as Oliver Twist, which satirized English society and its institutions.

Gift of William M. Elkins

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. With Illustrations by Phiz. (London: Chapman and Hall, 1843-1844) Original Parts

On display are three of the twenty installments of The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. This type of publication known as serial publication was popularized by Dickens. It had many advantages such as: reducing the author’s financial start-up cost of publication; expanding the author’s readership, since the cost of one installment was cheaper than entire novel; and allowing the author to change the narrative of the plot if he so desired. Dickens added the American adventures chapters to this serialized novel in order to improve lagging sales in England. Dickens’s works were recognized by their green colored paper. After buying the last installment, wealthy patrons could choose to bring the installments to the bookbinder and have them bound.

Gift of William M. Elkins

James Gillray: Two Satiric Prints

Satiric prints and caricatures were popular among a rapidly growing population of urban city dwellers living in London and other European cities during the late eighteenth- to early nineteenth centuries. They served to critique prevailing political, social, and religious situations through ridicule and humor. Most of the prints were usually sold by print shops and were often displayed in store windows or pinned up to boards outside the store, in order to attract customers. The prints were purchased by British consumers from every class and background.
James Gillray (1756–1815), one of the best-known British caricaturists and engravers of his day, produced over 1500 prints responding to the political and social events of his day. It is said that he pioneered British political caricature as a genre and, together with his contemporaries Thomas Rowlandson and George Cruikshank, established caricature as a popular art form with a broad appeal.

James Gillray. “Two Pair of Portraits;” – presented to all the unbiassed Electors of Great Britain, by John Horne Tooke. Published by John Wright.

Although Gillray’s work was generally bipartisan, he received a pension of £200 by the Tory-led government to produce anti-Whig propaganda between 1797 and 1801. In this complex print published in 1798 for the Anti-Jacobin Review Gillray lives up to his expectation as a political propagandist for the Tories by ridiculing John Horne Tooke and his support of Charles James Fox (British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs) and The Whig party. Tooke had switched political allegiances. Previously he had been a conservative journalist and politician and had written an essay entitled Two Pair of Portraits in 1788, which championed William Pitt the Elder and Younger and denounced Fox and his father, Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland.

In his print, Gillray attempts to discredit Tooke by exposing him as a hypocrite. He entitled his print “Two Pair of Portraits” as a direct allusion to Tooke’s pamphlet, in which Tooke attacked the very same figures he now supported. In the illustration, we see two portraits placed on an easel, one of Fox as the personification of vice next to a portrait of Pitt as the embodiment of honesty, followed by portraits of their fathers, Lord Holland and William Pitt senior displayed below. Gillray also includes the final lines of this pamphlet in a bubble emerging from Tooke’s mouth. Tooke is surrounded in the etching by other questionable and dramatic characters such as Wilkes, Robespierre and Machiavelli. It has been argued that “Two Pair of Portraits” may also be a masked self-portrait and critique of Gillray’s own role as a paid political propagandist. His message may have been that he was no better than Tooke whom he was ridiculing.

LC 28: 1.1

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Colored caricature etching by James Gillray. “Judge Thumb, or, Patent Sticks for Family Correction: Warranted Lawful!” Pub. Nov. 27, 1782.

In this hand-colored print, Gillray pokes fun at a law that purportedly allowed men to “discipline” their wives, provided that the instrument of violence was no larger around than his thumb. The law was allegedly passed by Judge Buller (1746-1800). However, no proof of this law or of Buller’s ruling exists.
LC 27: 2
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