Ancient Japan, samurai warriors, and your casual spider—casual, that is, until nightfall. According to ancient Japanese legend, these ordinary spiders would morph as dark night enveloped the landscape. Menacing pincers, bulging eyes, and even taking on human form to deceive unsuspecting victims—like the samurai in the tale below—these goblin spiders wreaked terror.
Lafcadio Hearn brings this ancient tale, one of many in the Japanese tradition of ghost stories known as kaidan, to English readers. The Goblin Spider is lavishly illustrated in Takejiro Hasegawa’s five-volume set of crepe-paper books. These brightly colored illustrations are hand-printed using wood blocks on textured pages.
Hearn, Lafcadio. The Goblin Spider. Kobunsha’s Japanese Fairy Tale Series. Second series. No. 1. Tokyo: T. Hasegawa, 1899.
Happy Halloween to you and yours from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!
. . . “I cannot,” cried the pilgrim, trembling and clinging;—”I dare not look beneath! Before me and about me there is nothing but skulls of men.”
“And yet, my son,” said the Bodhisattva, laughing softly,—”and yet you do not know of what this mountain is made. . . .”
“A mountain of skulls it is,” responded the Bodhisattva. “But know, my son, that all of them ARE YOUR OWN! Each has at some time been the nest of your dreams and delusions and desires. Not every one of them is the skull of any other being. All,—all without exception,—have been yours, in the billions of your former lives.”
“Fragment,” In Ghostly Japan, 6
This image and warning drawn from mythical Japan resonated all too well with the author, who himself had lived many lives.
Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), born in western Greece on the island of Lefkada, was the son of an Irish military surgeon and a mother native to the Greek island of Kythira. Raised and educated in Ireland, Britain, and France, Hearn emigrated to the United States when he was nineteen, where he held menial jobs before becoming a translator and journalist.
In 1890, Harper’s offered Hearn the opportunity to go to Japan to write about the country’s efforts to modernize. Shortly after arriving, Hearn became enthralled with Japan—the atmosphere, the cities and towns, the magical-looking trees, the temples, the people. He recorded his first impressions in series of essays and, after marrying the daughter of a samurai family, Hearn took the Japanese name, Koizumi Yakumo, and immersed himself in the culture of old Japan, looking for the “roots” of his beloved new home.
A newspaper reporter suddenly made professor, Hearn was appointed in 1895 as Chair of English literature at the Imperial University of Tokyo. During the next eight years, Hearn authored four works that reveal his deep understanding of and immersion in Japanese culture, religion, and literature. These works included Exotics and Retrospectives (1898), Shadowings (1900), A Japanese Miscellany (1901), and the book featured here, In Ghostly Japan (1899).
The story about a female pope—Pope Joan—circulated widely from the early thirteenth century and was generally accepted. Allegedly, a woman disguised herself as a male in order to attend university with her lover. She quickly ascended through the ecclesiastical hierarchy and was elected pope under the name John. She reigned for two and a half years before her true identity was revealed when she fell to the ground and gave birth.
Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an interesting and very rare example of a French Protestant writer refuting another Protestant author’s denial of the Pope Joan legend.
We join the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Sergio Sánchez Santamaría is a printmaker, illustrator, and muralist who was born in Tlayacapan, Morelos, Mexico. Also trained in Mexico, Sánchez Santamaría has exhibited his work throughout Latin America and Europe, in the United States, and in Japan and China.
Among Sánchez Santamaría’s collections of linocut prints is a small volume called 500 años, México, printed at the San Jerónimo workshop in Tlayacapan. The 14 impressions comprising this piece offer a visual history of Mexico, from the age of the Mexica (Aztecs) to the late twentieth century. A jaguar and feathered serpent are among the engravings representing the nation’s indigenous past. Also portrayed are major figures historical figures such as national hero and president, Benito Juárez (in office 1858-1872), and the best-known female intellectual of the colonial era, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
Rare Books and Special Collections holds the second of the six copies of 500 años, México produced by Sánchez Santamaría. Depicted here are two images from this copy.
Both prints illustrate the deep relief and heavy ink on cartridge paper characteristic of Sánchez Santamaría’s work. The style and the subject matter of his work tie him to the Taller de Gráfica Popular, a well-known artists’ print collective formed in 1937 that produced artwork designed to promote and advance the causes of the Mexican Revolution.
Sánchez Santamaría’s work often treats topics in Mexican history and popular culture. In 2016 he released a series of linocuts entitled Personajes de Morelos depicting figures central to the history of his home state. This collection was also printed in Tlayacapan. Rare Books and Special Collections holds copy fourteen of this collection, along with an actual linocut created by Sánchez Santamaría, shown below.
This image and linocut – number fourteen within this collection – depicts Zapatista colonel, Cristino Santamaría. According to Sánchez Santamaría, Cristino Santamaría, a musician and leader of the Banda Brigido Santamaría, fought alongside Emiliano Zapata during the Mexican Revolution. Santamaría’s face is obscured by his oversize sombrero, from under which his trumpet emerges. He is flanked by two figures wrapped tightly in traditional serapes. The print’s heavy lines contrast boldly with the white cartridge paper background.
Close examination of the linocut reveals something of Sánchez Santamaría’s technique. Cuts are of varying depth, to achieve different sorts of impressions. Outlines of the figures and blue pen shading can also be discerned.
Oscar Wilde’s book for children, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, published in 1888, has attracted many artists and printers over the years. The stories have also been adapted for stage performances including, as I discovered recently, a ballet which will be performed in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2018.
Wilde’s stories, in the tradition of literary fairy tales such as those of Hans Christian Andersen, depict poverty, suffering, cruelty and arrogance, with sacrifice or martyrdom occurring more than once. In the title story, the statue of a prince who had been sheltered in luxury while he lived, could now view from his pedestal the poverty and suffering in his city, and so he convinced a swallow to carry each of the statue’s jewels to someone in need. The Happy Prince and Other Tales consists of the following five stories: ‘The Happy Prince’, ‘The Selfish Giant’, ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, ‘The Devoted Friend’, and ‘The Remarkable Rocket’.
Wilde published a second collection of fairy tales, The House of Pomegranates in 1891. These stories are generally more complex and dark, but over the following century many books have included a selection drawn from both books. Out of the four stories in this book, ‘The Star Child’ and ‘The Young King’ are more likely to be included in selections intended for children. ‘The Fisherman and his Soul’ and ‘The Birthday of the Infanta’ are rarely considered suitable for child readers.
A glance at the editions in our collection, with their range of illustrations and book production styles, demonstrate ambivalence in terms of identifying the appropriate audience for Wilde’s stories. Illustrators Walter Crane and P. J. Lynch both illustrated the book for a child audience, while many editions produced in the intervening century are more appropriately seen as gift books for adults.
The Happy Prince and Other Tales was first published in 1888 by Alfred Nutt and is illustrated throughout. The frontispiece is by Walter Crane, as are a plate illustrating ‘The Selfish Giant’ (shown below) and one illustrating ‘The Remarkable Rocket’. Crane (1845-1915) is frequently cited along with Randoph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway as one of the premier illustrators of children’s books in Victorian Britain.
Small illustrations by illustrator and engraver Jacomb Hood decorate the head of each story. The stories are also richly decorated with vignettes or small decorations.
Another early edition was illustrated by Charles Robinson (1870-1937), one of three brothers who were all prolific book illustrators. This 1913 edition includes eleven color plate illustrations in addition to the frontispiece. As these plates are tipped-in, or attached to pages of the book, it is rare to find an original copy with all plates intact.
With over fifty pages decorated by Robinson, this is what booksellers would call a ‘lavishly-illustrated book’, and these illustrations are reproduced in many later editions and adaptations.
The Overbrook Press produced a limited edition of The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde with wood engravings by Rudolph Ruzicka. This 1936 edition is part of the Hesburgh’s collection of 135 books from the Overbrook Press of Stamford, Connecticut.
Another fine printing, clearly not intended for the hands of children, is the silk-bound edition published by Kurt Volk, New York, in 1955. This book includes the title story, a short essay on ‘Oscar Fingall O’Flahertie Wilde’, and a slightly abbreviated version of W. B. Yeats’ introduction to a 1923 edition of The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales. [i]
One of the most recent editions is illustrated by leading Irish illustrator P. J. Lynch, also known for the award-winning book The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and his recent book The Boy who Fell off the Mayflower. This edition of Wilde’s Stories for Children, published in 1990, includes ‘The Young King’ in addition to all five stories from The Happy Prince. Lynch has not placed ‘The Happy Prince’ in first place—rather, the book begins with ‘The Selfish Giant’.
Authors of introductions range from W. B. Yeats, who knew Oscar Wilde, to Stephen Fry, the actor who played Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde.
The bibliography below lists the editions held in the Hesburgh Library’s Special Collections.
[i] The full text of this introduction is online in The W. B. Yeats Collection (a Chadwyck-Healey subscription database) which includes the following source information: Introduction to Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Fairy Tales (1923). According to catalog records such as in the Hathi Trust, this appears to be volume 3 of a multi-volume collection of the works of Oscar Wilde.
Friday, September 15 at 4:00pm | Dedication program for Emily Young’s sculpture Lethos, to be followed by a reception in the Carey Courtyard View Area (Second Floor – Hesburgh Library). Sponsored by the Hesburgh Libraries and the Alumni Committee for Poetry and Sculpture.
The monthly spotlight exhibit for September is The Art of Botanical Illustration: Philip Miller’s Gardeners Dictionary.
The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America, continues to be on display through September and features seven volumes from Special Collections’ manuscripts of North America holdings.
Paul van Vlissingen, owner of the Dutch company SHV (Steenkolen Handels Vereeniging), commissioned the noted book maker Irma Boom to create a volume to commemorate the anniversary of his family’s firm. Boom had full access to the archives of the company and the family to aid her in conceiving what became a 2,136 page tome.
Given full artistic control and no budget, she spent five years fashioning the volume. It is a most unusual creation, incorporating a wide range of surprising and innovative design elements. As an example, the edge of the text block displays a field of tulips when its pages are flipped from left to right, but flipping them the opposite way reveals a poem.
The book’s contents are arranged in reverse chronological order, and are unnumbered to encourage accidental discovery. Pages are perforated and use different inks and typefaces. Irma Boom has received many awards, including a Gutenberg Prize, for her book designs. The SHV Think Book is her most celebrated work, and was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art as an international icon of Dutch design.
At the outbreak of the First World War, there were approximately 10,000 British nationals within the borders of the German Reich. Some were on holiday while others had resided in the country their entire lives or were passing through as sailors aboard merchant vessels. Regardless of background, their British citizenship marked them for suspicion in the eyes of the German government as well as retaliation for the plight of German nationals in Great Britain. Therefore, it was determined that male British nationals of military age were to be arrested and interned for the duration of the war (though with the possibility for freedom through prisoner exchanges). While various camps were hastily constructed to house these detainees, Ruhleben was the only camp that was entirely populated by civilian prisoners.
Constructed on the grounds of a horse racing track on the outskirts of Berlin, Ruhleben would house over 4,000 prisoners at its height. Inmates were barracked in repurposed stables in extremely poor condition due to the inadequate facilities. Over time and with the intervention of the American ambassador, Ruhleben would grow to include not only upgraded barracks and latrines, but also a library, school, stores, and post office. Lack of privacy was a perpetual concern for the men while at the same time they were virtually cut off from the rest of civilization apart from Red Cross parcels and short letters from home. As a result the camp formed its own community complete with newspaper, theater productions, sports teams, and various clubs to keep boredom at bay.
One such endeavor was In Ruhleben Camp and its successor The Ruhleben Camp Magazine. Special Collections recently acquired a full set of these issues in two bound volumes accompanied by a bound, two-volume scrapbook containing original drawings from the magazine. Published fortnightly, the magazine included stories and cartoons parodying camp life as well as reports of camp activities such as reviews of musicals, sports recaps, and advertisements for lectures. A marked tone of humor is prevalent throughout, in keeping with the unofficial camp slogan “Are we downhearted? No!” An in-depth chronicle of camp life, the magazine represents some of the best documentation of the Ruhleben experience.
The highlight of this collection is the two-volume scrapbook. Bound in pasteboard and measuring 16.5″ x 12.75,” the scrapbook contains 53 original drawings in pen-and-ink, watercolor, and graphite. Although the purpose of the scrapbook is not certain, material on the front cover indicates that the scrapbook was a mock-up for a London publisher, George Newnes Ltd., to use for the publication of a book to be called, “The Lighter Side of Lager Life.” Who compiled the scrapbook is also unknown, but it may have been one of the magazine’s editors, Louis Egerton Filmore or C. G. Pemberton.
The scrapbook volumes include original illustration, many of which did not appear in the printed magazines. The drawings depict camp life in a vivid display of the camp’s signature humor. Original artwork is paired with clippings that parody classic British texts such as “Alice Through the Lager Glass” and Shakespeare rewritings. These parodies were some of the most popular types of entries in the printed magazine. Other literary pieces included poetry known as “Ruhlimericks” which poked fun at camp conditions and life or humorous advertisements for various services.
… on Sunday, the 29th March, at 8½ A.M., we cast off from the Yard, with a fine breeze at the N. W., and clear cold weather, the steam Tug, “R. B. Forbes,” in company, with some of the members of the Committee, on board. In about one hour we parted from them, with hearty cheers, and made sail on our course.
A remarkable voyage to bring relief to the Irish in the Great Famine is the subject of Captain R. B. Forbes’ report, The Voyage of the Jamestown on Her Errand of Mercy, published in Boston in 1847. His report for the “Committee of Distribution” combines his account with a substantial appendix of correspondence and other documentation.
After the Irish potato crop failed due to blight in 1845 and again in 1846, knowing that the potato provided most of the subsistence for a large part of the Irish population, concern for this famine grew throughout the world, but especially in places such as Boston where there was a considerable population of Irish birth or descent. Those who provided assistance in early 1847 expected that the harvest later that year would bring an end to famine, but in fact the blight persisted and the Great Irish Famine lasted until 1852. [i]