Compiled by Michelle Lovric Michael O'Mara 1997.
A lovely little volume only 150mm x 190mm x 15mm. Small and thin. Hardcovers. Well bound. Opens flat virtually anywhere.
It is subtitled 'Dangerously Witty quotations by Women about Men Illustrated with fine Regency and Victorian Etchings' and that's exactly what it is.
The etchings are great. The quotations are great. The whole thing is great. It is well put together. It is wittily put together. It has wit itself. Ms Lovric doubtless is a person of great wit as demonstrated by this production.
The art of etchings seems to me to be in a way 'wittier' than other graphic arts. It produces pictures such as nothing else I've seen, or I think so, I feel so. There seems to be a truth in them that I don't find in other illustrations.
The quotations in all paint a picture of almost sheer horror. Lightly stated. There's no sobs, tears, screaming denunciations that I can remember. The horror is there between the lines, beneath the quotations. They gently remind us of something that we know - the fact that horror exists.
Look at this: 'Poor Mary Ann! She gave the guy an inch and now he thinks he's a ruler.'
A joke. Right. Comical. A real laugh. But a sombre truth in fact that is the doorway to oppression, wife beating, child abuse and so on so often...
And from the same page: 'I am unable to learn from sacred writ when woman was deprived by God of her equality with man...'
Getting a little more serious. And then:
'If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves?' Quite to the point, without melodrama.
The sadness is excruciating in fact: 'When she settled down for a life-time's quarreling at him, it was for the same reason syrup sours - the heat had just been put to her too long.'
Conjures up a vision of a lifetime, a horrible lifetime, a lifetime of two wasted lives.
And the imagery.. 'syrup' ... homely, cooking imagery. So much of the imagery is like that. Homely. It speaks personally as individual women speaking from their own lives about their own men. This is not abstract academic reasoning or lofty theorising about justice and equality and rights... it is in fact the thoughts, words, emotions, feelings, hurts, desires and realities of real women who've experienced an awful truth in their search an desire for a human lifetime within which to raise a family and live out their destinies.
Yep, 'dangerously witty quotations...' Exactly. Dangerous of course because they make you laugh as you devour them but once inside they may awaken uncomfortable awareness. I agree.
But 'Deadlier Than The Male' ? Difficult for me to see how the victim is deadlier than the oppressor. Perhaps, even probably, I miss a point somewhere.
Anyway it is a beautiful book presenting excellent artwork, illuminating insights, serious truth and uplifting humour all at once.
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