Tag Archives: illustrations

A Reader’s Supplement

POAL Collateral ClassicMy copy of The Portrait of a Lady was published in 1966.  It’s a Collateral Classic, originally priced at ninety-five cents.  Although my book is more than forty years old, it is in great shape.

Let me share what is the best part of my version:
the forty-eight page Reader’s Supplement found in the center of the novel.Henry James

After my indiscretion last week, I’m trying hard to stay on task.  I haven’t spent lots of time skimming the “extras”, but I can share this dramatic black and white photo of our novel’s author.

My Reader’s Suplement also has…”Pictorial Background of Plot Highlights”.  What’s that?
Here’s a quote from the editors’ explanation:

In presenting the materials that follow, we have chosen to depart form a common practice in book illustration.  you will find no direct representations of important characters or scenes.  We believe that drawings or motion pictures stills, designed to help you visualize people or places the author describes, actually may interfere with the exercise of your own imagination  No artist can duplicate the pictures your mind creates as it reacts to the words in a book.  Even photographs depicting prominent actors who have portrayed the roles are poor substitutes for the images suggested by the language of a great writer.

Background info: that’s what’s being provided.  So, let me do a little show and tell.

Here’s an example of “An Old English Country Estate–1800’s (left) and “Double Houses in Albany-New York, 1800’s” (right).  See, we can imagine the Touchett’s estate and also see where Isabel was living in the US.

English Estate.double houses

Take a look at this illustration.  On the left side is “A ‘Specimen’ of an English Gentleman–1877“.  I see a proper Englishman.  This helps me imagine how Isabel Archer saw Lord Warburton  The picture on the right shows “A Young Woman of Imagination–1800’s“.  Could this be Isabel?

English gentleman

May I present “English Fashions of the 1880s“.  Remember how enamored we were with the Anna Karenina-inspired line at Banana Republic?  Perhaps JCPenny will pick up “The Portrait” line.  The hats are fantastic, but I can’t say I’m a huge fan of bustles.  Then again, if my waist can look that tiny…

English Fashions

Did you notice the text at the top of each illustration?  Those quotes from the novel are “to direct your attention to passages where the background material can be most helpful for visual purposes.”  Nifty!

Fellow readers, do any of your versions of The Portrait of a Lady contain “bonus” material?


Posted by on February 1, 2013 in The Portrait of a Lady


Tags: , , , ,

A Needed Whaling Break

Last weekend my children and I dashed to our local library’s used book sale.  My three know the routine.  Mom will help you dig through the children’s books and then you will patiently wait with your books in hand while she rummages through the grown-up titles.  You may even read your desired purchases while sitting under the very tables mom is perusing.

This time I struck out in the adult books, but look what my middle child found in the kids’ section.

“Mom, you need this.”

The book’s flyleaf says:

“Carol Carrick brings the golden age of American whaling to life in her detailed, tightly written text that traces the history of the whaling industry to the present day.  David Frampton’s woodcut illustrations portray the awesome power and beauty of the whales.” 

He was right!  I did need this book.  It’s not only informative but beautiful.  I wish I’d read it before starting Moby-Dick.  It would have helped me understand all of Melville’s whaling terminology.  I especially love this illustration.  Each of the sections of the ship above and below deck are labeled.  Remember the cutting room?

Who would have thought that I’d be happy to return to whaling in the middle of reading Madame Bovary


Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Moby-Dick


Tags: , ,

The Art of Moby-Dick

The great Leviathan is that one creature in the world which must remain unpainted to the last.—Herman Melville

If you are interested in visual representations of Melville’s classic.  This is the book for you.  Elizabeth A Schultz has compiled a “stunning array of book illustrations, prints, comics, paintings, sculptures, mixed media, and even architectural designs.” (quote taken from Amazon’s book description)

I confess that I haven’t done much reading of the text of this book, but I have spent time enjoying the collections of illustrations.

Flipping through Unpainted to the Last is a little like walking through an art museum dedicated to Moby-Dick.  The book contains every type of art imaginable.  Some examples are pen and ink or painted illustrations from various editions of the novel.

Some three dimensional representations are made from bronze, or wood, or… produce!  There are samples of a work from a graphic novel version of the book, and there are instances where The Whale was used as the basis for political cartoons.

Melville painted pictures with words and artists are inspired by those words to paint pictures.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Moby-Dick


Tags: , , ,

Whale Art

The lithograph whaling prints in my copy of Moby-Dick got me interested in other visual representations of Melville’s classic, including my last post about a pop-up version!

Today’s book isn’t found in the children’s section of the library.  It’s a grown-up book.  Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page by Matt Kish is an interesting take on The Whale.  Here’s part of Amazon’s description for Kish’s book:

Inspired by one of the world’s greatest novels, Ohio artist Matt Kish set out on an epic voyage of his own one day in August 2009. More than one hundred and fifty years following the original publication of Moby-Dick, Kish began illustrating Herman Melville’s classic, creating an image a day over the next eighteen months based on text selected from every page of the 552-page Signet Classics paperback edition.

This is Ishmael.   The text on the right says “1. Call me Ishmael.”

Here’s another peek.  I wanted you to get a glimpse of the white whale.

I won’t reprint the text for this drawing because I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone who hasn’t completed the book yet.  Here’s a hint though; that’s an angry fish mammal.

I can’t even imagine the commitment it took to complete this project.
And I thought reading Moby-Dick took determination.


Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Moby-Dick


Tags: , , ,

A Themed Wrap-up

You’ve all been extremely polite and quietly waited for me to post The Scarlet Letter wrap-up despite the fact that we set sail on Moby-Dick some time ago.  Today’s the day, so don your favorite monogram and let’s put this book to rest – at least for a little while.


We began our day with a trip to a local gallery that was featuring original illustrations from novels by Charles Dickens.  The showing was part of the large 200th birthday celebration for Dickens that began in February.  We, of course, read Oliver Twist in 2011.

The engravings from Oliver Twist were mostly by the artist James Mahoney and were new to us since our editions all contained the Cruikshank works.  The display did contain his famous Sikes on the roof sketch.

My personal favorite of the collection was this:

The Bumble/Corney corny, bumbled romance was the highlight of the book for me.

Then there was this illustration:

It was titled:

And we still don’t know.  Do you?  The Artful Dodger?  A healthy, confident Oliver?  Oh well, next up, we enlisted the


The Salvation kind, of course.  We took a little side-trip to do a bit of shopping.  It had nothing to do with classic literature.  I’m sorry I even brought it up.  On with our day:


We had to sate them, so Panera Bread was our next stop. And after analyzing the Thai dressing, and yumminess of edamame we finally got to discussing The Scarlet Letter.


We did our best with Susan Wise Bauer’s WEM questions, Christine even had hers typed out.  We started first with our own titles for the book, then we moved on to the trickier question of what each character wanted.  My mind is completely stuck in a rut on this particular text and so my answer to every question was:


I know there is more to the book than that, and that my fellow readers had better answers, but I made the huge mistake of not writing them down, so now I seek the above for my self-centered forgetfulness.

stute Observation

The highlight of the dicussion was this beautiful literary structure that Jeannette pointed out.  Let me see if I can do it justice with a little diagram:And just look at what happens when you flip that on it’s end:

Clever, eh?  Or should I say,

Clever, ?


Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Oliver Twist, The Scarlet Letter


Tags: , , , ,

Illustrated Olliver Twisted

I’ve decided to give myself an endorsement on my DIY Master’s Degree.  My endorsement shall be in “Children’s Adaptations of Classic Novels”: the faithful and the unfaithful.

Here’s the latest book. In addition to Oliver Twist, the book contains the following stories:

  • Bleak House
  • Great Expectations
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • David Copperfield
  • The Life and Times of Charles Dickens

I enjoyed the Usborne Illustrated Classics for Boys, but I take issue with this book of tales from Dickens.

Like the original story, Oliver is born in a workhouse to a mother who dies immediately after childbirth. 

Oliver grows up in the workhouse and says his famous, “Please sir, I want some more” line. 

The chimney sweep Gamfield is mentioned, but the appearance before the magistrate is omitted.  Oliver is apprenticed to Sowerberry and meets Noah Claypole. After fighting with Claypole, Oliver runs away to London and meets Dodger, Fagin, and Sikes.

Brownlow and his housekeeper are part of the story, but here’s where the minor changes become major changes.  The Maylie Family is never mentioned: not even once. And Grimwig?  He’s not in this book.

Prepare yourself for more changes!  When Oliver is shot during the house-breaking, it is Nancy who rescues him from the ditch where Sikes left him.  Nancy contacts Brownlow and brings Oliver to meet him on London Bridge.  They are followed by Sikes who shoots Nancy on the bridge. 

Sikes flees the gathering crowd by climbing on the roof of a nearby house.  Sikes is accidentally hung and the dog falls to his death.  I had to include the next illustration after yesterday’s post.

The book comes to a quick close when Brownlow produces Oliver’s mother Agnes’ locket.  He got it from Mr. Bumble’s wife Mrs. Mann.  Everything is quickly wrapped up and Oliver goes to live with Brownlow.

Remember Monks?  You wouldn’t from this tale.  He’s not included.

Oh, I get it… This story is from Usborne’s Illustrated (and incredibly, loosely based) Stories from Dickens.

I’ve enjoyed comparing the children’s books to the originals.  My two older children have read both of the Usborne Illustrated books that I’ve brought home from the library.  These little books are colorful and inviting, but I wonder if these adaptations are a good idea.  Someday in high school will they come back to me and ask, “There are four parts to Gulliver’s Travels?”  Or perhaps they’ll say, “Reading that kid’s version of Oliver Twist when I was eight was a little like watching a based-on-a true-story-made-for-tv movie: the character names were the same, but that was where the similarities ended.”


Posted by on December 31, 2011 in Oliver Twist


Tags: , , ,

“The Pursuit and Escape”

 “The Pursuit and Escape” is what Dickens titles chapter L of Oliver Twist.  Have you reached this chapter yet, readers?  If not… consider this a spoiler alert and come back to this post when you’ve finished the chapter.

You’re done already?  Wow, you are fast readers.

Chapter L is the chapter where Bill Sikes flees to the “house” on Jacob’s Island.  The angry crowd finds him there.  He plans to escape off the roof using a rope. 

“At the very instant when he brought the loop over his head previous to slipping it beneath his arm-pits…”

You remember what comes next: Sikes’ accidental hanging.  This is almost as gruesome as Nancy’s death. 

Let me show you the original illustrator’s depiction of this chapter.  George Cruikshank called it “The Last Chance”.  We see Sikes on the roof with his dog.  If we look closely, we can see a few faces in the windows of the nearby houses.

This is the picture from the same chapter in the Great Illustrated Classics version.  Illustrator Ric Estrada also shows Sikes and the dog on the roof with the rope, but he chose the perspective of the crowd on the ground.

I almost didn’t include the next illustration.  In fact, I purposefully left the size small because I found it so disturbing.  It comes from the Bullseye Step Into Classics series.  For this children’s adaptation of Oliver Twist, Jean Zallinger was the illustrator.  Zallinger decided to focus on the moment after Sikes was haunted by “the eyes” and fell to his death.  If you can ignore the body (which I’m not sure is possible), I rather like the horror depicted on the faces of what used to be a blood-thirsty crowd and is now a traumatized group of people.  Unlike Dickens’ original story, Oliver witnesses Sikes’ death in this version.  Quickly skimming the text, I found that there were lots of changes made to condense the story.

I am sure Dickens had his reasons for destroying Sikes in this particular way.  Just as I’m sure each of the illustrators had their reasons for depicting the scene in their own ways. 

I am particularly disturbed by the last illustration: both for its content and for the children who were meant to view it.  This book is a beginner chapter book.  Amazon has this title listed for children in grade one and up. 

Up until now I have really enjoyed the children’s adaptation of books that I have found.  Remember this one?  and this one?  There was even this one.  

But as the topics of our classic novels get darker, I’m going to be more cautious when I scout out children’s copies.

Fellow readers with children, how do you feel about versions of classic works made for kids?


Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Oliver Twist


Tags: , , , , ,

Good Grief! More Gulliver?

Look what I found.  No, it’s not the next title in the WEM list.  It’s a collection of classic stories Usborne has illustrated for children.  Check out the titles:

  • Robin Hood
  • Moonfleet
  • Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • The Canterville Ghost

and wait for it…

  • Gulliver’s Travels

See why I had to immediately put a library hold on this book?!

This version of Part 1 of Gulliver’s Travels was retold by Gill Harvey and illustrated by Peter Dennis. 

Although some adaptations have been made, I think the story truer to Swift’s original than the pop-up book.

Gulliver is transported on a wooden cart to the capital city.


Gulliver's pockets are inspected for dangerous items.


The nobles compete in the game of "Leaping and Creeping".

 There are pages devoted to egg debate.  Of course Gulliver steals the naval vessals from the people of Blefescu.  There’s even an illustration of the fire that Gulliver puts out.
This version has him throwing water over the palace to save it. I prefer the change.
This version has Gulliver throwing “water over the palace to save it.”  That’s a small change I prefer.  One detail the storyteller did not change is how the nobles want to kill Gulliver or at least blind him at the end of Part 1.  Don’t worry.  Just like in Swift’s version, Gulliver escapes in a boat and is rescued by people his own size.
I like the Usborne version of Gulliver’s Travels, and I can’t wait until the library informs me that my next hold is ready for pickup.

Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


Tags: , , , , , ,

I want to read the Great Illustrated Classics!

The librarian of my children’s Lutheran school is a friend of this blog.  I enjoyed discussing Pride and Prejudice with her as she sped through the novel.  Volunteering in the library last week, I noticed that she had placed the Great Illustrated Classics version of Oliver Twist in a predominant location in the library.  The book was face out on the beginning fiction shelves.  She surely intended for a child to check out this version of our latest classic work.  Instead I snatched up the book to compare it to my intimidating copy.

Now Oliver Twist is a sad book.  Really sad.  Orphans and workhouses.  Doesn’t the children’s book cover seem friendlier than the illustration that’s on the cover of my Modern Library copy?

But it was these two pages that made me walk out of the school library with the children’s version tucked in my bag…

A character list!  You know how important one is for my reading. 

That evening when the plot became so terribly sad in the very first chapter of my reading, I looked in the Great Illusrated Classics version and for moment could pretend that with a concerned doctor and loving nurse, things were going to be okay for our newborn orphan.

I want to read the children’s version of Oliver Twist.

and to my librarian friend… I promise to give the kids a chance to read it.

1 Comment

Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Oliver Twist


Tags: , , , , ,

Field Trip Find

As a child I went on very few field trips.  But those days when we got to go into town and tour the jail, or the feed store, or somewhere equally exciting, were favorites from my one-room schoolhouse years.

So, even though my children are homeschooled it’s important to me that they get the chance to see the inside of a jail, um, I mean go on field trips.  And last month our homeschool group had one of those great opportunities, we went back in time to Charlton Park.

While the children were getting the new experience of sitting in an old classroom Jeannette and I were pacing the back of the room trying to keep my twins occupied.  In between shushing my daughter, and snapping pictures of my boys writing on slates what should I spy? The two rows of books that were the school’s modest library and in them, this surprise:

Jeannette was also excited by the find, even if my son was not.

We plopped that dusty tome down on the back of one of the old fashioned desks,

and began our examination of the classic.

This wasn’t just any old copy of Bunyan’s most famous work.  No, this was the Superfine Edition.

It had both parts (the journey’s of Christian and Christiana,) the iconic drawing of Bunyan,

and peaking behind that protective tissue paper was even a color illustration.

The index promised more color illustrations, but we couldn’t find them.  There were, however, these beautifully detailed woodcuts,

Just look at the action in these shots.  Now those are some lions to be reckoned with.

There was even a bonus poem that was new to us.

We could never find a date on the volume, but it did have this beautiful presentation page:

and the fill-in-the-blank year gave us the impression it was pretty old.

This month the field trip is to the Grand Rapids Trash and Recycling Center.  I can’t imagine what will be found there.  But if a copy of Gulliver’s Travels with my name in it shows up, I plead the fifth.


Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress


Tags: , , ,