A Few Links

Herbert E. Crowley, Fantastic Animals Left off the Ark, 1911-1924.

Herbert E. Crowley, Fantastic Animals Left off the Ark, 1911-1924.

I have been checking and fixing a few links in the bibliography pages and added a new, interesting article to the Studies on Edward Lear page:

Antinucci, Raffaella. “‘Sensational Nonsense.’ Edward Lear and the (Im)purity of Nonsense Writing.” English Literature 2.2 (2015): 291-311.
The article explores Edward Lear’s contribution to the Victorian aesthetic debate, characterized by a marked resistance to the literary use of sensation (epitomised in Wilkie Collins’ fiction), and in which, according to Bourdieau and to many critics after him, the so-called cultural divide between high art and mass culture originated. In particular, the analysis verifies the degree of ‘impureness’ of Lear’s nonsense, a hybrid genre that has often been apprehended as literarily and socially subversive. After a brief discussion of the main features of this genre and its acknowledged ‘parodic’ quality, the study examines Lear’s engagement with ‘high’ and ‘low’ literary conventions in «Growling Eclogue» and «Mr. and Mrs. Discobbolos» (whose second part was expressly written at Wilkie Collins’ suggestion), with the aim of investigating if and to what extent Lear’s crossing of genres and use of bizarre and at times grotesque literary images blur (and question) the boundaries between élite and popular culture.


The Digital Collections of the New York Public Library now include scans of the complete John James Audubon’s Birds of America. The collections also include twenty-five images by Edward Lear, mostly ornithological illustrations, but also two vignettes from Illustrated Excursions in Italy.


Finally, if you are interested in early comics and especially nonsensical ones, Matteo Maculotti has written a much-needed introduction (in Italian) to the baffling work of extraordinary artist Herbert E. Crowley, il visionario dimenticato.


The first Wiggle-Much strip of 20 March 1910.

It is now possible to read the whole series of Crowley’s enigmatic Sunday comic strip, The Wiggle Much (or Wiggle-Much, New York Herald 20 March – 19 June 1910) thanks to Justin Duerr, whose biography of Crowley is about to be published.

An unpublished Wiggle-Much strip (this is no. 16 and only 14 were published).

An unpublished Wiggle-Much strip (this is no. 16 and only 14 were published).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a rich collection of Crowley paintings and drawings which deserves to be seen.


Crowley, Bottledogs! Bottledogs! Who buy bottledogs?, ca1910.

Want something else? Here is the Hathi Trust facsimile of The Coronation Nonsense-Book. In the Style of the Old “Book of Nonsense” by the Late Edward Lear. By the Poet and Painter of “Clara in Blunderland” (Caroline Lewis). London: William Heinemann, 1902.


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John Mole, The Edward Lear Poem (1989)

John Mole, “The Edward Lear Poem.”
The Spectator, 2 December 1989, p. 42.

He kept his wife in a box he did
And she never complained though the neighbours did
Because of the size of the box and the way
He tried to behave in a neighbourly way
But smiled too much of a satisfied smile
For a body to know what to make of his smile.

Then there came such a terrible cry one night
Of the kind you don’t like to hear in the night
Though the silence that followed was broken at last
By the blows of a hammer which seemed to last
For ever and ever and ever and ever
And no one set eyes on that man again ever.

On John Mole.

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John Fuller, Edward Lear in Corsica

John Fuller, “Edward Lear in Corsica.”
Times Literary Supplement, 7 July 1995.
New Selected Poems: 1983-2008. London, Chatto & Windus, 2012.

Is it not unpleasant, at fifty-six years of age, to feel that it is increasingly probablu that a man can never hope to be otherwise than alone, never no, never more? Did not Edgar Poe’s raven distinctly say ‘Nevermore’?
Edward Lear, Journal of a Landscape Painter

With its colourful flora and fauna
How delightful to visit La Corse!
There is silence for once in the corner:
Poe’s raven has cried himself hoarse.

The terrible word that he utters
Brings none of its usual fears.
In Ajaccio, latched are the shutters
And deep are the hats over ears.

For hope is a buoyant statistic
And here they are used to being free.
You are bound to become optimistic
When you wander into the maquis.

The woods breathe a whimsical vapour
That doesn’t compel you to think.
The walks by the shore smell like paper.
The sea is the colour of ink.

The landscape was formed when the planet
Had little but rocks on its mind.
The fall of the coastline granite
Is awesome but not unkind.

When the clock chimes five and a quarter
Already I’ve fought with the sea.
I rise from the vanquished water
And drip from my beard to my knee.

My pride, like a low-tide anemone
Is sailing at less than full rig
And my otherwise pendulous gemini
Are tight as a Cargèse fig.

I shall live in crepuscular mountains
Where the chestnuts are full of white cows.
I shall drink at the pebbly fountains
And put on a peasant’s loose blouse.

I shall draw every day what’s before me.
My spirit will put up a fight.
Not a thing on this island could bore me.
I shall map the behaviour of light.

Here’s the pichet. Now take out the stopper.
Through my breakfast I’ll know who I am.
The honey’s the colour of copper.
The wine is the colour of jam.

The fish are the colour of roses.
The cheese is the colour of cheese.
Its smell has found out where the nose is.
The name of it sounds like a sneeze.

In heaven one stores up treasure
From every shifting mood
That belongs to the landscape of pleasure
With its rituals of air and of food.

The host of the morning croissant,
The sacrament of the pêche,
The globulous soupe des poissons
That is almost an act of the flesh.

The tone of a leaf or a petal,
The wind with its breath of intrigue,
The herbs that seduce from the kettle,
The herbs that define the garrigue.

But it’s on to the col de Bavella!
Where the mountains are pink in the sky
Like the ribs of lady’s umbrella
Left out in the garden to dry.

The easel unfolds like a table.
There is oil, and fresh pigments to crush.
With a sweep of my hand I am able
To lay on the sky with a brush.

In each cloud, in each pine, in each boulder
You may see that the paint hasn’t lied.
Come sir, look over my shoulder:
The hills are like elephant’s hide.

There was a young lady of Zonza —
But I cannot come up with a rhyme.
My verse-making skill has quite gone, sir.
I find that I haven’t the time.

It was something to do with a corset,
Or was it the shape of her toes?
When the memory’s gone you can’t force it.
God knows where the memory goes.

The past is a prison. I’ve tried it.
It is choked up with ash like a grate.
The future has nothing inside it.
The present is hard to locate.

I have made an important decision:
I shall live from now on in my art.
It’s a way to achieve the precision
That’s dulled in affairs of the heart.

The nourishing zest of the highlight
That glints from a rock or a spoon,
The deepening draught of the twilight,
The rich chiaroscuro of noon.

And then, when the starlight is silent
Above the still murmurous sea,
I shall know I belong to this island
And this island belongs to me.

And I shall have found the haven
That glistening granular shore,
Where flown is the ruminous raven
And the echo is: ‘Evermore!’

On John Fuller.

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Edward Lear (attrib.), Mount Athos (1856)


Attibuted to Edward Lear, Mount Athos.
Bears signature, date [1856] and inscription, watercolour and pencil. 37.5 x 17.5cm (14 3/4 x 6 7/8in).


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Edward Lear, Ravenna


Edward Lear, Ravenna.
Watercolour, signed with monogram, 11.1x18cm.


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Edward Lear, Monte Corno


Edward Lear, Monte Corno, or Gran Sasso d’Italia.
Watercolour, signed with mongram and titled, 16.1×25.4cm.


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Edward Lear, Pentedattilo


Edward Lear, Pentedattilo, Calabria.
Watercolour, signed with monogram, 16.1x22cm.


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