Passionate Journey: A Novel Told in 165 Woodcuts

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9780140110838: Passionate Journey: A Novel Told in 165 Woodcuts

Produced in 1919, Passionate Journey uses Masereel's simple and precise woodcuts to present a story of one man's life and loves in post-World War I Berlin.

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Masereel's Passionate Journey occurs entirely in his series of 165 woodcuts, rather like a black-and-white movie, as Thomas Marm explains in his introduction, written in 1926. Each of the woodcuts centers on a young man who we may as well think of as Masereel himself, who was in his early thirties when he cut this novel. The young man is shown in a variety of situations, and a highly romantic account of Masereel's spiritual development emerges. The young artist enters a city by railroad and walks crowded streets with bemused amazement. Throughout the series he undergoes various pleasures and pains of the physical, mental, political, moral, and religious life as a sort of preparation for a Christlike death and spiritual rebirth. This is a thoroughly romantic, ego-centered production which provides a virtual checklist of the social, political, religious, and artistic concerns of Masereel's cultural moment. Audiences today will appreciate its value as a characterization (and equally as a caricature) of European intellectual life during the first two and a half decades of this century. We can no longer flip through it with the passion and mounting excitement which Mann describes in his introduction. For us, such journeys seem to end very close to where they began. -- From Independent Publisher

From Publishers Weekly:

Woodcutter, painter, cosmopolitan and anti-militarist, Belgium-born Masereel (1889-1972) was an extremely popular artist in 1920s Germany. A contemporary of Kathe Kollwitz and George Grosz, his "novels-without-words"--completely composed of woodcuts--have been neglected in the States. Here, 165 striking woodcuts generate the visual narrative of a young man's initiation into the urban milieu. The raw power and diversity of the city's day to day events continually expand his understanding of life's possibilities. The hero's fascination with the city's abundance of art and culture, political debate and industrial glory combine with observations on an equal profusion of poignant social trauma. The protagonist travels to distant lands; this journey of vibrant percipience propels him toward an enlarged comprehension of his role in a world of good and evil, love and tenderness and clashing social interests. Mann's effusive introduction discusses Masereel's life and influences and details the ideas that motivated and enliven this vivid work.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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