'What is the use of a book', thought Alice, 'without pictures and conversation?' Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis CarrollVia an academically unverifiable Google search, I discovered British copyright expired on Carroll's classic in 1907, allowing any publisher to release a new edition. Perhaps this explains why it is such a commonly illustrated book (see, for example, the list of hundreds of illustrations: http://www.lewiscarroll.org/illus.html). Anyone who has taught in an undergraduate art or design degree will recognise it as a popular text to illustrate/reference (I can think of at least two projects in which I used Alice references in my own undergrad degree – they were both fairly awful). Carroll originally created 37 line drawings to accompany his first draft and added text emphasis (boldness, underlining, shaped text boxes, etc), which demonstrates his concern for the typo/graphic elements of his story. The setting of the poem 'A Mouse's Tail' is a good example of concrete poetry. The original illustrations he commissioned John Tenniel to produce were a blend of cartoon and caricature, apparently using real life politicians as inspiration for some of the characters. Marie-Laure Ryan, editor of Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling, describes Tenniel's illustrations as a successful case of "the verbal and visual [blending] in the mind of the reader-spectator into one powerful image, each version filling the gaps of the other." (139)
This tradition has been maintained by later illustrators; Barry Moser and Ralph Steadman use quite obvious likenesses to contemporary figures (Moser's March Hare looks an awful lot like Ringo Starr). Is this a case of illustration functioning beyond (but always in tandem with) the written text? Something I'm thinking about at the moment. Almost all children's books use illustration in this way, but we lose that with adult literature.
It's occurred to me that writing this (tenuously relevant) post is a less productive activity than finishing my semester progress report, but if I write the word 'taxonomy' again I'm going to scream. I'm finding the blog a good way to digress (alright, procrastinate) at the moment, though some of my posts are becoming less productive than my earlier epic rants. I think this is a good thing.