Monday, 17 November 2008

Picture books

In my last few recommendations I would like to make a case for books that fire the imagination, not through words (or words alone) but through pictures. I think pictures can stimulate the imagination and the urge to write. I know they can. I have already tried to suggest graphic novels and strip cartoons. Here are some Dover books by artists and illustrators who whose work is as compelling as any novel.

I can't remember when I first encountered Gustave Dore, but it would have been some time in my teens. Though my taste in art moved on and became more sophisticated as I went to art college, I never lost my fascination with Dore.

Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a poem I have loved ever since I first heard it at school and it is one of those works that has become a kind of test of skill for illustrators. Every generation of illustrators feels the need to have a crack at it. Dore's is still one of the best versions in my opinion.

Dore's illustrations for Paradise Lost are extraordinary. I could (and have) looked at them for hours.

Goya's work seems often to teeter on the edge of insanity and Los Caprichos contains some of his most bizarre images.

The Disasters of War is full of absolutely grotesque and shocking images of barbarity and cruelty. It is also horribly fascinating of course.

I love Odilon Redon's work. His drawings and prints are so strange and haunting. I find them incredibly inspiring, both as an artist and a writer. In fact just looking at that spider on the cover makes me want to write something.

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