Other Deaths

by Henry on December 20, 2011

A couple of commenters have requested less post-mortem commentary on Christopher Hitchens and more on Vaclav Havel. Don’t know what to say about Vaclav Havel beyond that he was mostly pretty great (ill-considered support for the Iraq war: obviously not so great), but if people want to talk about him, here’s your thread. But also – Russell Hoban. His death won’t nearly get as much attention as Hitchens’. Still, I’d bet good money that Riddley Walker and The Mouse and His Child will still be read when Hitchens is a Cyril Connolly-esque footnote in cultural histories of the late twentieth century.

{ 58 comments }

1

Belle Waring 12.20.11 at 2:04 pm

I love the Mouse and his Child but I think it is the single saddest children’s book i have ever read.

2

J. Otto Pohl 12.20.11 at 2:08 pm

What? No Kim Jong Il thread?

3

Manuel 12.20.11 at 2:19 pm

I get slightly irritated by all this “scoring-by-issues” stuff. Great or no great, Havel was a human being, so he got it right sometimes and he got it wrong sometimes. If he stood out so that his death inspires commentary by outsiders that did not know him personally, sure it was because of more holistic components of his thought and deeds.

4

TKN 12.20.11 at 2:20 pm

J. Otto Pohl – I think you can comment here:

5

Rich Puchalsky 12.20.11 at 2:22 pm

I’ve heard it said that Havel’s popularity was greater — or, at least, more uncomplicated — outside his country than in it. I remember, after he became President, a group of young women of my acquaintance decided to visit the Czech Republic (doesn’t remember whether this was before or after breakup) with a book of his writings and a huge box of condoms, his charisma having attached itself to his countrypeople. Im my impressionable mid-20s mind, this confirmed his status as the ideal political leader.

6

tomslee 12.20.11 at 2:28 pm

I re-re-re-reread Riddley Walker a couple of months ago. It is the only novel that I return to regularly, and I love it more than any other work of fiction. It has its flaws (the big one being that it’s basically an all-male world), but I know I’ll have a copy of it at hand for the rest of my life.

7

Belle Waring 12.20.11 at 2:33 pm

“the big one being that it’s basically an all-male world”
Yeah, problem. But great novel.

8

Donald Johnson 12.20.11 at 3:00 pm

“I get slightly irritated by all this “scoring-by-issues” stuff. If he stood out so that his death inspires commentary by outsiders that did not know him personally, sure it was because of more holistic components of his thought and deeds.”

When talking about political figures it’s hard to avoid talking about the positions they took on issues. Perhaps if you were inspired by Havel you should have been irritated when he came out in favor of the Iraq War.

9

Tim Wilkinson 12.20.11 at 3:04 pm

Coincidentally over the past couple of nights I’ve been reading 30+ year old disintegrating copies of Charlie the Tramp and Nothing to Do, from my own childhood (and those of my three younger siblings), to my own nipper.

10

DaveL 12.20.11 at 3:33 pm

I came to Hoban via Riddley Walker, which I loved. I was pleasantly surprised later, when I had children, to discover the Frances books, which I am sure will also be read for a long, long, time. (My thought was: “Cool! Here’s an SF author who is also a successful children’s book writer.”*) I agree with Belle Waring that The Mouse and His Child is terribly sad, but I too love it. My daughters asked for it to be read them on many occasions (not so often as Frances, though).

* I discovered Le Guin’s Catwings the same way after having been a fan since day one of her career. I read them the Earthsea Trilogy a few years after.

11

Esoth 12.20.11 at 3:45 pm

“Riddley Walker” is a book I’ve read numerous times and that I know that I will read it again and am comforted by that thought. It is one of the great unmade filmed stories, along with Blood Merridan, and there at least Hollywood seems to have tried. There have been too many post apocoyptic stories of poor quality. But Dr. Miller has made a career out of it. I expect that someone may try soon, because CGI coming as far as it has, it aught to be easy by now. But the language must be a terrifying prospect. But despite its problematic dialog, “Riddley Walker” is terrifically cinematic, as you can feel the cold and mud and rain and the night from the first pages. Its not hard to imagine someone throwing their hands up at trying to reduce it to treatment.

12

Bruce B 12.20.11 at 3:58 pm

Riddley Walker was very good, but doesn’t quite rise to great. It had a good set-up but just fizzled out. I found Riddley Walker when looking for other books by Hoban after enjoying his Frances books with my children.
Frances the badger is one of the great characters of children’s picture books. Hoban’s respect for his young readers is evident, and the depth of thought and emotion in the stories is impressive for such a short format. Must reads for every 4 – 7 year old and their parents.
Hoban’s books will outlast anything written by Hitchens (as well as Havel in the English-speaking world).

13

Bill Benzon 12.20.11 at 4:09 pm

A tribute to Russell Hoban by Michael Sporn, an animator who directed a film of one of his books, The Marzipan Pig (Tim Curry narrated):

When we completed The Marzipan Pig, Hoban came to NY from his home in London. We arranged a screening for him after which Tissa David, he and I went to lunch. In his very dry way, he told me that he was pleased with the film. As I do with all authors, I asked for criticism not compliments, and he told me there was only one complaint. We didn’t get the bridge quite right at the end of the film. Of course he was right, and it’s hard for me to watch those final scenes, now, without thinking about that damned bridge.

And here’s a post in which Sporn gives some behind-the-scenes on the animated version of The Mouse and His Child, which he had nothing to do with.

14

niamh 12.20.11 at 4:33 pm

Whatever shifts his reputation may have suffered among Czech people (for whom, after all, he was a practical politician for many years, and no icon), I think Václav Havel has to be seen as an impressive individual. Whether we think of Charter 77, or the Velvet Revolution, or the peaceful breakup of Czechoslovakia, his influence was immense. His essay ‘The Power of the Powerless’, on the way coercive social control worked in post-Stalin societies, written as it was for a particular moment, is now in the most obvious sense a historical document. But I think the implications of having a critical awareness of the forces of conformity, and the emphasis on resistance to ‘living within a lie’, even on a small scale (and even the smallest gestures of resistance could require great moral courage at that time), in this essay and in other writing of his, are still highly suggestive.
http://www.vaclavhavel.cz/showtrans.php?cat=clanky&val=72_aj_clanky.html&typ=HTML
It’s a useful reminder that while human rights can be and must be legally codified and institutionalized so they can be defended, what we really mean to defend is a deep sense of human worth, a valuing of free creativity, an unbounded concern for ‘the independent life of society’.

15

Paul Davis 12.20.11 at 4:40 pm

Its been a rough few days for deaths of the more-or-less worthy:

Russell Hoban
Christopher Hitchens
Cesaria Evora
Václav Havel

No doubt there were many others that escaped my attention, but to have those 4 pass away on 4 successive days (and my own birthday occuring right in the middle) reinforces feelings of age and the notion of generational succession. The greatest bane? No doubt that on the same day that each of these people died, at least one person filled with the potential for some equally immense talent was born … but I will likely die before anyone knows for sure who they are. And I’m not that old!

16

jim 12.20.11 at 5:02 pm

That’s a bit unfair to Connolly. The Unquiet Grave is brilliant.

17

sdf (Stu) 12.20.11 at 5:03 pm

niamh, I wrote a lengthy thingie on “Power of the Powerless” yesterday as a diary on Daily Kos,, especially on his “Greengrocer” everyman, where it was (for the most part) promptly ignored. Maybe it would be of more interest to CT’ers.

The main point is that this essay, while usually considered within the realm of Eastern European dissident writing, is also far more than that, is a brilliant piece of social protest and an important contribution to the literature on non-violent civil disobedience.

18

sdf (Stu) 12.20.11 at 5:11 pm

And to add: expecting perfection from even highly admirable public figures is unwise (Havel, for example, might also be remembered for being unable to help prevent Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Divorce” (and therefore resigned); he also didn’t lead an ideal personal life); hagiography is best left for the hagiographers, and imperfections shouldn’t always already overshadow impressive (and even, sometimes, noble) achievements.

19

Miranda 12.20.11 at 5:35 pm

The Frances the Badger books meant so much to me as a child (and still do). We incorporated much of the language into our own private family lingo and jokes. We still call Baby Ruth candy bars Chompo bars and talk about little sisters not being much “s-m-f-o.” Those books are an amazing achievement, and I have cherished reading them to my daughters in turn. RIP, Russell Hoban.

20

Doug K 12.20.11 at 5:42 pm

Turtle Diary was the first Russel Hoban book I read, after which I bought everything else. The Diary was made into a movie with a screenplay by Harold Pinter, which didn’t work as well as one might think. That was the saddest book, the more so as its autobiographical bones showed through the story.

I bounce off the language of Riddley Walker so have re-read it less often than the others. My favorite is The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz,
“There were times when it seemed to him that the different parts of him were not all under the same management.”

May his memory be eternal.

21

Geoffrey 12.20.11 at 6:05 pm

I hate doing this kind of thing, but some blatant blog-whoring here, which includes a contrast between Havel and Hitchens.

22

Matt_L 12.20.11 at 6:30 pm

I teach the Greengrocer excerpts from “Power of the Powerless” to my Western Civ students every semester. I hope that some of them were following the news and made the connection between Havel’s passing and what we talked about in class. Maybe they will even think about it in their own context.

Regardless of Havel’s statements of the Iraq War, he deserves a lot of credit for the non-violent nature of 1989 and for his role in Charter 77. He wasn’t a half bad playwright either.

23

Tom Hurka 12.20.11 at 7:20 pm

Given that Havel supported the Iraq War, doesn’t CT etiquette require that he now be reviled, condemned, and spat upon, regardless of whatever else he did in his life?

The precedent has recently been established.

24

Manuel 12.20.11 at 9:07 pm

“Perhaps if you were inspired by Havel you should have been irritated when he came out in favor of the Iraq War”. Yeah, that’s exactly the point. There is a lot of space between agreeing with any position in any issue taken by someone you admire and retiring your admiration for a public figure because you disagree with him on a particular issue. Public figures are human beings, no one of them is perfect. And taking them as cues to determine which is your position in any issue is kind of silly, if you ask me. (By the way, I believe he was on the wrong side on the Iraq War, but maybe it’s me who is wrong, for all I know)

25

Doctor Slack 12.20.11 at 10:18 pm

What, Hoban? Noooo! That sucks!

26

Tim Wilkinson 12.20.11 at 10:41 pm

#23 and yet the precedent you invoke doesn’t seem to be being followed. Inexplicable.

27

M31 12.20.11 at 11:48 pm

The Frances books are great, but to my mind one of the best kids’ books ever written is Hoban’s “How Tom Beat Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen” which is as awesome as it sounds. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, so double the pleasure.

Tom is the ward of the frightening Aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong, who wears an iron hat, and if Tom doesn’t stop fooling around, she’ll summon Captain Najork and his hired sportsmen to teach him a lesson. Etc.

“Eat your greasy bloaters and your cabbage-and-mutton sog!”

28

Donald Johnson 12.21.11 at 12:46 am

Well, good, Manuel, if that was the point. Havel was a great man, great enough so that his support for the Iraq War doesn’t cancel out the rest of his life. Now someone like Hitchens did some good, but the last ten years of his life were spent pushing jihad against “Islamofascism”, so in answer to Tom Hurka I think he deserves much harsher treatment. Hitchens was never more than a pundit anyway, and a pundit’s reputation should live or die based on what he supported.

29

bob mcmanus 12.21.11 at 1:12 am

Louis Proyect on Havel and the struggle for socialism in Czechoslovakia. Discusses history going back to WWII with a concentration on 1968 and Havel’s differences with Dubcek

Proyect is pretty careful, and I know nothing, but I do think that if Havel completely sold his nation to Goldman-Sachs in the 90s he would still be called a hero in some circles. Hungary is showing where that kind of liberalism ultimately leads.

30

G. McThornbody 12.21.11 at 1:23 am

“Other deaths” refers to an overabundance of forgotten people besides the ones we wish we could ignore. “A death I was somewhat sad about” is far more telling. If that were the title, I would have to go with Donald Harrington.
http://www.tobypress.com/books/architecture.htm

31

bob mcmanus 12.21.11 at 1:30 am

The Czech Republic’s numbers and conditions, GINI etc, look pretty good so far. Better than Poland’s. I guess they managed to hold on to some values and protected themselves from the neo-liberal looters. For now.

32

Matt McIrvin 12.21.11 at 1:42 am

I love “A Bargain for Frances”. It’s like an episode of Leverage for kindergarteners.

33

Antonio Conselheiro 12.21.11 at 1:47 am

Havel and Hitchens are writerly, whatever else they might be.

34

P O'Neill 12.21.11 at 1:47 am

The Czech Republic’s numbers and conditions, GINI etc, look pretty good so far. Better than Poland’s. I guess they managed to hold on to some values and protected themselves from the neo-liberal looters. For now.

And from the Euro.

35

Tehanu 12.21.11 at 2:05 am

I love the Mouse and his Child but I think it is the single saddest children’s book i have ever read.

Sad? yes, but real — a depth of feeling you hardly find in any book, children’s or adult. “Sad” isn’t a bad thing!

36

Antonio Conselheiro 12.21.11 at 3:58 am

Havel: a friend recommend something by Jan Čulík of U. Glasgow which so far is only out in Czech.

Like Yeltsin, Gorbachev, and Walesa, Havel is less admired at home than abroad. That doesn’t mean that he’s a villain, but that the Velvet Revolution is a relatively small part of his reputation rather than most of it.

37

Gene O'Grady 12.21.11 at 4:38 am

Saw Hoban’s name in an obituary list, thought it was vaguely familiar, read on to find he had written the Frances books, and was grateful and sad at once.

My kids are older, but I don’t recall many other books with the same qualities?

38

Meredith 12.21.11 at 5:10 am

Thank you Bob M. @29: Louis Proyect on Havel. I only had time to glance at it but look forward to reading it closely. The kind of texture I’ve been looking for. And to Paul @15 for the reminder to listen to some Cesaria Evora (which has made my day). And to all for alerting me to Hoban – how did I overlook him all these years?

39

Belle Waring 12.21.11 at 6:44 am

35: I wasn’t saying it’s a bad thing necessarily, but Jesus, shiv me to the heart one time, guy! That book gets under your skin. Maybe I just don’t want to have to dream about it later.

40

Hob 12.21.11 at 5:24 pm

From Hoban’s Turtle Diary: “I was looking up at a train crossing the Hungerford Bridge. Through the train I could see the sky successively framed by each window as the carriage passed. Each window moving quickly forward and away held briefly a rectangle of blue. The windows passing, the blue remained.”

He often said that he wasn’t expressing himself, but something outside himself that was generally available. Still it’s hard not to wish that the windows would move away less quickly.

41

David in NY 12.21.11 at 6:20 pm

So I read Riddley Walker long ago and was not terribly impressed (though I do remember it at least). But I gather many think it might be worth another try?

As for Frances, I have to wait for a grandchild, now. Darn it.

42

Jim Johnson 12.22.11 at 5:57 am

Tom Hurka: Pretty poor analogy. Havel supported the war and was wrong to do so. But while Hitchens went railing against “Islamofacsism” (an incoherent notion), Havel went on to actually defend the oppressed in the world. Was he perfect? No. Better than Hitchens? By a considerable distance.

Like Michnik, Havel likely (I have no information on this – just speculation) supported the war out of loyalty to those he assumed had supported his fight against Communism (although the actual histopry of US support for anti-communist dissidents might read roughly “go ahead and resist your oppressors so we can hang you out to dry”). On his support for the war Hitchens was spewing what is basically racist twaddle – regardless of what he’d done elsewhere in his writings. Among the things I suspect you could not convict Havel of is similar prejudice.

43

Hidari 12.22.11 at 2:11 pm

Jimmy Saville died as well! Why no thread about him? If you ask the average British person, you will discover that Saville’s death was a far more culturally significant occasion than that of Hitchens.

44

Henri Vieuxtemps 12.22.11 at 2:40 pm

Havel was a liberal interventionist. Not only did he cheered the Iraq war, but also the war against Serbia in 1999, and he was a huge enthusiast of the NATO expansion, which is, arguably, even more hubristic. And yet, on the personal level he was, apparently, a very humble person. Go figure.

45

Salient 12.22.11 at 7:43 pm

Given that Havel supported the Iraq War, doesn’t CT etiquette require that he now be reviled, condemned, and spat upon, regardless of whatever else he did in his life?

…oh. I attempted to pre-emptively reply to this sort of thing in Belle’s first Hitchens post-mortem (mortem post?), figuring it might become all the rage of the moment to find some excruciatingly asinine excuse to equivocate the two men under the Wrong About Iraq masthead. Still, sheesh. The ‘ooh ooh let’s make a sardonic deference to CT etiquette now that it expresses disapproval of sexism’ meme ought to have had a half-life of 24 hours or so; there’s no reason to make it a thing, you know?

Anyway, as you’ve gone ahead and clarified that this apparently needs saying — I’m honestly perfectly happy to give Hitchens an honorary Get Out Of Iraq-War-Infamy Free Card (the original was issued to John Cole, so it’ll have to be a photocopy), and given that Hitchens recently passed, I won’t even ask for an act of contrition to ‘earn’ it. Okay. He’s still an obnoxious boor who lived in a bubble of self-crafted hatred masquerading as virility. Hitchens identified himself as an anti-theist; it’s only right and proper for salutations to acknowledge that he was rather anti-human, too.

Which brings me to Havel, who developed the audacity to assert human rights in the absence of deism constitute “mere froth floating on the subsiding waters of faith in a purely scientific relationship to the world” and acknowledge the “departing era” of genuinely humanist socialist reforms in the same sentence. Quite a strange capstone, and “noted without comment” seemed like a perfectly excellent response to steal. What more is there to say?

46

JW Mason 12.22.11 at 8:14 pm

Salient-

The Havel text you’re quoting sounds worth reading but the link is broken. What is it?

47

Tim Wilkinson 12.22.11 at 8:32 pm

48

Rich Puchalsky 12.22.11 at 8:53 pm

Oh, man, Havel was going along fine in that speech until he got to this:

“The first is the Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Its authors and adherents have pointed out that from the countless possible courses of its evolution, the universe took the only one that enabled life to emerge. This is not yet proof that the aim of the universe has always been that it should one day see itself through our eyes. But how else can this matter be explained? “

No, that’s not how the Anthropic Principle goes at all. First of all, no version of it says that the universe took the only course that allowed life to emerge. Secondly, it’s quite easy to explain our existence as a product of random processes consistently with the principle. Imagine that the universe keeps varying in its basic properties. We will only see a version of the universe that can support us … because otherwise, we wouldn’t be there to see it. But there could have been lots of other versions before or after us. Even if it’s very unlikely, sufficient variation will produce a universe that can support us eventually. Actually, the principle says the exact *opposite* of what Havel says — it says that we can’t draw any global conclusions from what we see locally, because we could be in the rarest spot ever, and if that’s what’s necessary to produce us, we’ll be there.

I write more about this (in the context of an SF work) here.

49

Tim Wilkinson 12.22.11 at 9:14 pm

Well yeah (and btw -not that anyone here has said otherwise – it doesn’t require the many universes/realism about possible worlds, as some seem to suppose) but that is specifically called the weak anthropic principle, isn’t it? And I’d assumed (possibly actually learned, can’t remember) that this contrasted with a ‘stronger’ principle, that would be similar to that expressed in the quote.

50

Henri Vieuxtemps 12.22.11 at 9:30 pm

Fine specimen of Eastern-European bullshit, but I like Zizek better. And what’s with spelling ‘modern’ as ‘modem’ all the time?

51

Henri Vieuxtemps 12.22.11 at 9:33 pm

…ah, it’s probably OCR…

52

tomslee 12.23.11 at 1:26 pm

CT needs a thread on the silliness of the multiverse.

53

Salient 12.23.11 at 8:02 pm

that is specifically called the weak anthropic principle, isn’t it?

tl;dr: Sort of, not quite; Havel is asserting a version strong enough to be met with disdainful eyebrow-raises from anyone not deist, and even most proponents of a rather strong anthropic principle shy away from those conclusions of his.

tl: The strongest version of the Anthropic Principle asserts that conscious life compels the creation and development of a Universe compatible to it. There’s three versions I’m familiar with. In the first, there’s a Creator mechanism that exists in a context independent of universal constants who moves over the surface of the waters and stuff and then boom there’s a life-supporting universe, generated for the purpose of supporting the lives of plants and animals and people and snakes and maybe an apple tree or two. In the second, the Universe has a kind of consciousness prior to its own existence, and manifests within its own existence minuscule replicas of itself; that is, there is a Universal Consciousness that generates our own consciousness (confession: I quietly take a lot of personal solace from this particular version — absence of evidence does not imply evidence of absence! and such nonsense — but of course you’re welcome to denigrate it to your liking).

The third version attempts to play around with gimmicks in time evolution to sort of argue there is some kind of ‘consciousness outside time’ blah blah if you think outside of time, man, everything was, like, always here.

The next stronger version asserts that there exists an (as yet undiscovered) observable whose corresponding conservation law ‘compels’ the development of conscious life. (The Universe is; therefore, I am?) In this version, the probability of conscious life emerging as the universe evolves in time approaches 100%. (This is not quite the same as guaranteeing life, which makes this version slightly less strong than the strongest, but I will spare you the stupid pretensions to calculus.)

A strong but slightly less strong version asserts that the only possible universes are ones in which all the fundamental physical constants are compatible with conscious life. That is, the universe is always capable of producing an environment conducive to conscious life, but the probability of conscious life emerging does not necessarily approach 100%, even allowing for an infinite time horizon.

There’s a weaker version still; it mumbles that there might be plenty of universes in which life is not supportable, but we’d only be around to observe a universe that supports conscious life, so, like, what did we expect to find? “It’s impossible for conscious life to make observations in a universe in which conscious life cannot exist” is the right flavor. (Note, it’s not quite a tautology, as conceivably there might be some way to make observations in one universe while comfortably seated in another. For a wide variety of completely sensible definitions of the word ‘universe’ it does reduce to tautology.)

I suppose the weakest version would be the tautology, ‘it’s impossible for conscious life to exist in a universe in which conscious life cannot exist.’

It’s pretty normal for these variants to get appropriated and muddled together for the sake of a pretty saying, for which example of we might as well forgive Havel. My own favorite formulation is either “We’re very lucky to be capable of discovering that we’re very lucky to be” or “Conscious life is perfectly well justified in admiring with gratitude and a sense of breathless luck the universe in which its own antecedents, whether by inevitability or by serendipity, emerged” or, extending a little, The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.

(As the reverent italics probably imply, I like best the sort-of-backwards version asserting that conscious life is compelled to marvel at the astonishingly improbable universe it finds itself in.)

54

Tim Wilkinson 12.23.11 at 8:44 pm

I didn’t read Havel either, just supplied the corrected link. My understanding of ‘weak anthropic principle’ was along the lines of your we’d only be around to observe a universe that supports conscious life, so, like, what did we expect to find?. Basically it explains the observation of (supposedly) highly (objectively) improbable conditions – conditions suitable to generate life – by appealing to a sort of selection bias: probability of making that obs given that any obs is made (by a living thing) becomes very high.

(Kind-of ‘weaker’ alternatives might be to say ‘there is no need to explain an event just because it is improbable’, or ‘there is no sense to speaking of objective probability in such an all encomassing kind of context’ or something along those lines.)

55

Henri Vieuxtemps 12.24.11 at 10:07 am

It seems to me that his ‘we are around to observe a universe that supports conscious life’ claptrap is in contradiction with his ‘human rights’ claptrap. The universe has conscious life with human rights and without them, and obviously both situations need to be observed, to the fullest extent.

56

ben w 12.24.11 at 10:28 pm

It is one of the great unmade filmed stories, along with Blood Merridan, and there at least Hollywood seems to have tried.

Hollywood tried to film Riddley Walker, too, kinda sorta, but for some reason they stuck it in the middle of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

From Hoban’s Turtle Diary: “I was looking up at a train crossing the Hungerford Bridge. Through the train I could see the sky successively framed by each window as the carriage passed. Each window moving quickly forward and away held briefly a rectangle of blue. The windows passing, the blue remained.”

Quite similar to the sentiment Lorna Elswit expresses regarding the thing what’s in us lorn and loan and oansome in RW.

57

Hogan 12.24.11 at 10:55 pm

As for Frances, I have to wait for a grandchild, now. Darn it.

Sez who?

58

JP Stormcrow 12.25.11 at 2:00 am

but for some reason they stuck it in the middle of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

That’d be the tel.

Recently read Hoban’s Angelica’s Grotto. An odd little book showing a very different side of Hoban. This figurine plays a prominent role (in the background of the second picture you can see The Mouse and His Child wind-up toy).

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