A Tragic Sense of Life X-Mas!

by John Holbo on December 18, 2008

I know, I know: it’s been two days since my last Haeckel post. Well, worry no longer! My X-Mas cards got a link from the University of Chicago Press! They just put out a new biography of Haeckel that is, I gather, more of a general intellectual history of the reception of evolutionary theory in the second half of the 19th Century, doubling as an attempt to burnish a somewhat tarnished reputation: The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought [amazon]. Here’s a TLS review – or rather, a longer version of one – that is, effectively, a thumbnail biography in itself.

All well and good, you agree: but surely there is more to life than German X-Mas jellyfish imagery? Yes, indeed! ASIFA has posted a wonderful series of Einar Norelius illustrations from a 1929 Bland Tomtar Och Troll (a Swedish x-mas annual of fairy and folktales). For example, here’s some sort of Aquatomten admiring a bunch of jellyfish. (Or maybe the guy’s just drowning.)


You see: there’s also Swedish X-Mas jellyfish imagery. So I added another card image to my flickr set, to add variety. (Not my best work, admittedly. But I only have so much 100-year old Swedish holiday card stock in my ephemera file.)

{ 1 comment }


jean 12.21.08 at 3:15 am

My mom was Swedish and I have always loved the stuff her relatives would send at Christmas. But one of my favorite artists is Carl Larsson, turn of the century (the 19th) watercolorist of Swedish country life. Not so fantastical, but in the same vein. These are wonderful illustrations. Reminds me of my childhood.

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