Friday, January 31, 2014

The Quotable George Price

Let's start with a somewhat poetic work of original cartoon art from the New Yorker:


George Price, "Farewell, brave lover!  Come back either with your shield or upon it."
Original artwork for the New Yorker, October 17, 1970, page 36.

The World of George Price:  A 55-Year Retrospective. New York:  Beaufort, 1988.

The reference is to the Greek historian Plutarch.
http://www.translatum.gr/forum/index.php?topic=925.0
According to Plutarch's Moralia, Spartan women would exhort their sons going off to war to come back either with their shields or on them, that is either victorious or dead. George Price's cartoon has a somewhat befuddled husband going off to work while his wife delivers the same exhortation as the Spartan women. Tone is important here; she seems to mean it encouragingly and she is fully cognizant that the rhetoric is overdone, particularly with reference to her underachieving husband.

Skinner's listing describes the woman as "frumpy" and the man as "Walter Mitty-ish." This seems to be beside the point. The confidence and the sense of play reside in the woman, however plain her dress. James Thurber's Walter Mitty was an inveterate daydreamer; this guy is just in over his head, both at work and at home. I don't see the telltale signs of a rich fantasy life.

Skinner follows its practice of noting the "light blue washes" while failing to identify the product in question as Ben-Day. The writing on the back of the artwork even identifies the blue medium as Ben-Day underneath the tape, right below the printer's instructions about which tones to use. It's right there for anyone to see.



Printer's instructions for rendering Ben-Day in "B" and "C" tones

http://www.skinnerinc.com/auctions/2658B/lots/427
George Price, "Farewell, brave lover! Come back either with your shield or upon it."
The New Yorker, October 17, 1970, page 36


George Price, "Farewell, brave lover! Come back either
with your shield or upon it."
The New Yorker, October 17, 1970, page 36

This is certainly not the sole example of a famous quotation appearing in a George Price cartoon. Here are two more examples from the same era:

George Price, "The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart."
The New Yorker, June 27, 1970, page 32

George Price, "The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart."
The New Yorker, June 27, 1970, page 32

The cleaning lady is somewhat incongruously quoting Rudyard Kipling's "Recessional."
http://quotes.dictionary.com/the_tumult_and_the_shouting_dies_the_captains

Here then is just one more:
George Price, "I heard a bit of good news today.
We shall pass this way but once."
The New Yorker, April 14, 1973, page 35

George Price, "I heard a bit of good news today.
We shall pass this way but once."
The New Yorker, April 14, 1973, page 35

The source of this is one is well known to me. It was a favorite quotation of my fifth grade teacher, Mr. A. Nick Treglia in the Alice P. Willits Elementary School. These words or a close variant were posted in the classroom from day one, an imposing frieze of gothic letters encircling the classroom. Mr. Treglia had absolute confidence that Stephen Grellet's sobering and inspiring Quaker message would resonate with his ten-year-olds.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/131923-i-shall-pass-through-this-world-but-once-any-good

George Price's cartoon, with its hopelessness and squalor, brilliantly subverts the meaning of the very line it quotes. It just doesn't get better than this.

Who was responsible for these clever cartoon quotations? One would like to think it was Price himself, of course, but could he have come up with all of these? These literary references might easily have come from a gagman, someone like Richard McCallister perhaps who was known to work closely with Price.


Note:  There are more posts on the blog about George Price, though not so quotable as this one. Read them all here.

I don't know what made me think of this, but here are Attempted Bloggery's past football posts.

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