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Because You Asked

Copiously weeping cats today. This first is from Heinrich Hoffman’s sadistic children’s book, “Struwwelpeter” (c. 1845). It’s a very normative book – there’s some German word for this type of kinderbuch but I can’t remember it. This particular picture is from “Das Gar Traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug” or as Mark Twain translated it, “The Sad Tale of the Match-Box”. In which Paulinchen learns to her cost, too late, that matches are actually not fun at all. And she can’t even say the cats didn’t warn her.

“Come quick!” they said. “O sire.
Your darling child’s afire!
Me-yow! Me-yo! Me-yow! Me-yo!
She’s cinders, soot, and ashes, O!”

Twain’s translation is available wicked cheap as one of those cute little Reclam editions, #8983.
The unhappy critter below is one of Charles Robinson’s illustrations from Walter Jerrold’s 1903 “Big Book of Nursery Rhymes” – available these days as “Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes” from good ol’ Everyman’s Library.

Pussycat Mew jumped over a coal,
And in her petticoat burnt a big hole.
Poor Pussy’s weeping, she’ll have no more milk,
Until her best petticoat’s mended with silk!

Robinson is better known for his illustrations of Stevenson’s “Child’s Garden of Verses”, and a lot of the “Mother Goose” illustrations delve into the same art nouveau vibe as the “Child’s Garden”. One Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. has set out an interesting life of Robinson here, with pictures to look at.

13 Responses to “Because You Asked”

  1. e. Says:

    The RSS summary for this entry reads: “‘girlonfire’ Twain’s translation is available…” which I was sure was telling me the title of Twain’s book, and I was thinking that e. e. cummings had perhaps not introduced much to the language if Twain had already done that much.

    Then we have “‘catweepeth’ Robinson is better known for his illustrations…” and I thought that was a pretty funny nickname that you were giving such a fellow…

  2. Desultor Says:

    This is an artifact of the way Manila does images. When you upload an image to the server you give it a string identifier. When you use that string, enclosed in quotes, on a post, interpolates some sort of <img src=””> business. I guess it must not be doing that for the RSS summaries!

    I agree that “catweepeth” would be a pretty dope nickname for Robinson 🙂

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