Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summertime and the Livin's Aubrey

I started copying some lady faces.
My darling friend Erica visited me this past week, and brought me treasures from the New York City. One such treasure is a yellow cloth-bound biography of Aubrey Beardsley.  The true measure of a friend is when she brings you something you never knew you wanted, yet once you see the thing, you say, "I've been wanting that."

Erica studied history, I, literature.  She usually reads the history.  I usually read the literature.  When she arrived with a thick copy of MELVILLE this visit, I got to thinking about biographies.  They are a hard thing to read sometimes, for those of us who want everything to be a story. Or more accurately, who want everything to have layers of meaning. How can this be, with biography?  Last semester I dragged through a well written, detail-filled, critical biography of Milton. The Lewalski.  Indispensable to a Milton scholar, but summer reading it is not. Erica and I talked about biographies. Turns out, few of them are summer reading. Aubrey Beardsley happens to be an exception.

Ended with creeps.
(Click for a close-up!)
I'm enjoying the read, even though there are only a few plates. Presumably if one is reading the biography of Aubrey Beardsley, one is probably already familiar with his or her drawings of men and/or women (Erica and I also discussed the silliness and the limits of gender neutral language!), and one does not need an extensive collection of Beardsley prints thickening up the bio.  So I am in the midst of it, watching little precocious Aubrey charm all his schoolmasters, when I get the urge to draw.  I have not drawn in ages.  A biography that gives one the urge to draw is indeed a good biography.

So it began with the copied lady faces (and other parts) like the illustration above, and ended with my own characters like this sleazy fin de siecle fellow on the left.

Now, back to reading about Beardsley!

My drawing of the Beardsley photograph in Weintraub's book.

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