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The War of the Worlds - Art and Literature

  • 'War of the Worlds' by H. G. Wells (Doubleday, 1960)
    'War of the Worlds' by H. G. Wells (Doubleday, 1960)
January 28, 2014
H. G. Wells and Edward Gorey …

I’m not going to lie: I love books and not just because I love reading them. Some are beautifully made: just look at the work we do here at the Literary House Press. Books can be a great place to combine two different forms of art: the written word and the illustrated story, which is was I have you for you today.

But first, classics that are classic for good reason and I try to mix them in when every I can. Many times that comes with a modern book that clearly draws inspiration from a classic. When I come across one of those books, I try to read the inspiration first. It’s a lot like reading a book before seeing the movie.

Over the past year I have been catching up on my classical science fiction literature, and more specifically the works of H. G. Wells. This came from my experience in reading The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma, translated by Nick Caistor (website here). As I was reading, the book made many references to The Time Machine, and I knew I had to read it. Before then, the only Wells book I’d read was The First Men in the Moon, and oh the rules of physics that book breaks. A great read outside of the science class room. Anyway, it was a different narration from what I’m used to, but I liked it. It’s how Wells writes.

Then I found a beautiful edition of The War of the Worlds when I came across this article by Maria Popova, who is awesome, of Brain Pickings, which is her awesome creation. I had to have book and only $10 dollars later, I did.

The War of the Worlds was published in 1898, one year before Dracula, which Gorey also illustrated. (Click here for that piece of beauty).

I love Edward Gorey (as well as Gustave Doré for the work he did one The Raven and Dante’s Inferno) and I love most everything that he did and he did a lot. Here is another article from Brain Pickings that shows the a collection of the classics he illustrated, which include the works of Bernard Shaw, Herman Melville, Marcel Proust, Henry James and Franz Kafka. I was tickled when I saw he illustrated The War of the Worlds, understanding that his signature would work very well with Well’s writing.

His illustrations add a pleasant visual element that is not overpowering. They are a delicate piece of art a the beginning of each chapter that lends a hint as to what will happen or what is happening without taking your imagination away from the text. Unlike films that often times pollute your our imagination, replacing the narrator in this book with Tom Cruise (trust Roger Ebert and don’t see the film), these 30 illustrations are subtle and thus float on the surface and dissolve in the words, adding to the reading experience.

So read it, see it and enjoy it.

~ Owen Bailey

P.S. Just because this is fun.

Last modified on Jan. 31st, 2014 at 1:31pm by .