Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Book Club:Imagination

Knowing that it's not fair to judge a book by its cover, I am going to examine carefully this one gracing Anthony Esolen's newest publication.

At first glance, I see a charming youngster sitting on a crescent moon and looking down..... on the world, I suppose.

The gargoyle surfaces only after I'm enchanted by the prospect of sweet dreams of childhood.

I'm beginning to feel some tension.

So, I step back from opening the book and reading the table of contents.

I choose to learn more about the little boy.

Victor Charles Anderson (1882 - 1937) painted him and this rendition may have been the cover of a Life Magazine, but I cant find the year.

There were thousands of reprints made by Campbell Prints years ago with a wonderful Burges Johnson poem on the back.  Here's a link to the two verses.

Currently Laughing Elephant seems seems to own the rights to the image and has been selling it for use in the greeting card industry and as glicee prints.

Unfortunately, my eyes keep checking on that monster above the child's head.

Gargoyles have a reputation for scaring off and protecting from evil or harmful spirits.  In fact, many are useful downspouts directing water away from buildings. 

Be aware then that the jacket art is a combination of two separate and distinct images.  Kevin van der Leek is the graphic designer who pulled that out of his creative (read non-destroyed) imagination.

That totally piques my curiosity.

What is the relationship between the child and the gargoyle?

Stay tuned!

Because this intriguing book is the subject of our next book club, which starts soon.


  1. I hadn't even seen the gargoyle at all. Thanks for pointing him out.

    I tend to ignore covers as a general rule, so it is interesting to pay attention to it :)

  2. I just love that cover.

    It is quite a strong statement that killing a child's imagination is evil, and we need to place gargoyles over our children so that they can enjoy their birthright...which is an imaginative childhood.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Love this post, Dana! It never dawned on me to ponder the cover...:)

  4. I am withholding my opinion until I actually read the book ;-)

    But I'm will admit a bit of bias ~ or presuppositional thinking which believes that imaginations have not been destroyed per se, rather perverted.

    They are currently undergirded or fed or watered (via downspouts) by immoral ideas.

    Also, reading this book calls into question my own imagination.

    Am I imaginative?

    Why/why not?

  5. I am so happy to see you have done your homework and mine too as I fully expected you to do but you surprised me by starting with the cover!! You are a wonder.

  6. I must admit to having been so intrigued by the title, and keen to get into the book itself that I barely noticed the cover. You have opened my eyes with your insights. Thank you.
    Imaginations may not yet have been destroyed, but reading this book certainly has made me aware of the many strategies society uses to do so. If it's not deliberate, it is frightening.

  7. When I first saw the gargoyle, which is itslef an imaginary creature, I thought of how the landscape of childhood is populated with dragons and monsters and all kinds of magic. I still remember the alligators that lived under my bed, the dwarves I saw at night in the shadows of the hall, and the dryad that animated the big oak in my back yard, whose branches later provided my favorite reading place in the summer.

  8. Thank you, Dana! I saw the gargoyle, but, not knowing enough about them, assumed the gargoyle was threatening the child.

  9. Two more thoughts on the cover - a. Esolen probably didn’t have much to do with or say about it. b. Maybe the gargoyle is driving away those imaginative thoughts that might stem from sitting in the curve of the moon with the heavens around him.

  10. Debra - I think sometimes authors dont have input on dustjackets, but take a look at this graphic designer's website and you will know that it's a good fit....

    no matter which way the presence of a gargoyle is intended.