Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Weird Wednesday

The frontispiece of Harry Price's 1945 book Poltergeists Over England, an old aquatint dating from (I'm guessing) the mid-19th century. Referring to the tormenting imps, Price asks: 'Are these poltergeists?' Well, no, obviously they're not. They represent the tormenting doubts, self-loathing, despair and hunger of a man in abject poverty.

A couple of imps dance round a plate with a fish skeleton on it, his last meal for some time; one smokes a cigarette because he's run out; another holds open his empty pocket and takes the piss with a 'To let' sign, and etc. But the most sinister thing about this picture is the imp trying to urge a cut-throat razor on him: 'Give up, end it all now,' the smiling fiend seems to be saying. Not polts then, but weird enough. And is it just me or does that poor bloke look a bit like Patrick Troughton?

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