Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A peek inside the notecard box

In advance of a promotion starting tomorrow (look for the banner on our home page) on notecards, stationary, journals, and such, I've picked out a few special favorites to explore in more depth.
In his suite of 20 watercolors, Romare Bearden reinterpreted scenes from The Odyssey while  exploring art history, world history, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, as well as the "Great Migration" of African Americans within this country. The four images selected for notecards are Circe, Home to Ithaca, Circe Turns a Companion of Odysseus into Swine,  and Odysseus Leaves Circe.
Our next images come from master of woodblock prints Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769–1825),  renowned for his realistic portrayals of scenes from Kabuki dramas. Toyokuni also excelled at pictures of beautiful women, incorporating the sinuous figure type popularized by Utamaro and others. The images in this notecard set, two sheets from a diptych, depict a group of courtesans and a samurai shooting arrows. (Archery was a refined activity associated with the samurai warrior class; with his shaved forelock and hakama pants, the man kneeling is clearly identified as one.)
Brooklyn Museum
The final selection, Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in One Box, might be called "Bibliophiles Delight." You can use them as bookmarks, frame them singly or in groups, tally how many titles are read and unread—or even mail them!

7 comments:

  1. I'm really curious about the Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers In One Box, I am trying to figure out what classic titles are in this collection?

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    1. Va Woolf A Common Reader & A Room of One's Own; A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess; 1984 by Orwell; titles by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Hemingway, and Philip Roth; some weird titles too, like Soft Fruit Growing and Aircraft Recognition.

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  2. Without your information, I would never have guessed that the Bearden pictures were of The Odyssey. His Greek turned swine looks like an Egyptian god, and I don't recall Circe's prostration over Odysseus leaving--that was Dido's thing in the Aeneid.

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  3. I don't know if Homer described the reaction of Circe to finding out that Ulysses had left--more informed minds than mine will have to weigh in!

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    1. Circe sent Odysseus away with advice on how to face the Sirens and Scylla, the sea-monster she herself had created. Circe also was credited with providing a fair wind for the ship.
      Perhaps Calypso suffered more from Odysseus leaving, as she was ordered by Jove to let him go. She also complained bitterly, doubting that Penelope could be as beautiful as she.
      Circe created the sea-monster because Glaucus, whom she loved, preferred Scylla, which indicates her tendency to rage and spiteful action, rather than to impotent tears. It is easy to confuse the two godesses, But Odysseus did not sneak out the back door in either case.

      I. too. was "suckled in a creed outworn", as Wordsworth said.

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    2. many thanks to the good doctor for the gloss!

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  4. OMGZ I want the Book Cover Postcards so bad. must.purchase.now.

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