Woodcutter, painter, cosmopolitan and anti-militarist, Belgium-born Masereel (1889-1972) was an extremely popular artist in 1920s Germany. A contemporary of Kathe Kollwitz and George Grosz, his "novels-without-words"--completely composed of woodcuts--have been neglected in the States. Here, 165 striking woodcuts generate the visual narrative of a young man's initiation into the urban milieu. The raw power and diversity of the city's day to day events continually expand his understanding of life's possibilities. The hero's fascination with the city's abundance of art and culture, political debate and industrial glory combine with observations on an equal profusion of poignant social trauma. The protagonist travels to distant lands; this journey of vibrant percipience propels him toward an enlarged comprehension of his role in a world of good and evil, love and tenderness and clashing social interests. Mann's effusive introduction discusses Masereel's life and influences and details the ideas that motivated and enliven this vivid work.
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