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Passionate Journey: A Vision in Woodcuts [Paperback]

Frans Masereel
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 10 2007 Dover Fine Art, History of Art
"Look at these powerful black-and-white figures, their features etched in light and shadow . . . Has not this passionate journey had an incomparably deeper and purer impact on you than you have ever felt before?" — Thomas Mann
Belgian-born Frans Masereel (1889–1972) was one of the greatest woodcut artists of the twentieth century. Ingeniously portraying the human experience through dramatic art, this novel-without-words—crafted from 167 intricate woodcuts—is considered to be the Flemish artist's masterpiece.
A feast for the eyes and the imagination, this powerful visual narrative details the life of an ordinary man. From the first bustling frame to the last haunting image, we are deeply drawn into the hero's day-to-day encounters, and discover a spirit in quest—one that we can profoundly relate to, emotionally and intellectually. Through each extraordinarily vivid depiction, readers feel the hero's happiness, grief, awe, and despair.

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Passionate Journey: A Vision in Woodcuts + The Sun, The Idea & Story Without Words: Three Graphic Novels + The City: A Vision in Woodcuts
Price For All Three: CDN$ 31.78

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Catalyst May 22 2000
Format:Hardcover
Like the Tarot, the images here are universal and transformative. They have the additional benefit of a wry sense of humor and subtle undercurrents of a humanist sensibility.
A must have for any searcher or thinker.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Inspiration April 30 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
When my sister gave me this book for my birthday, it was one of the greatest presents I ever received. I was inspired, comforted, and emboldened by Masereel's wordless tale of a questing spirit. Despite the fact that I've read it literally hundreds of times (almost every night when I was working in Calcutta), I always see something new in the subtle, highly expressive woodcuts. Besides the brilliance of his technique, the story Maserel tells is exciting, complex, hilarious and moving. A treaure I wouldn't trade for practically anything.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars reviewing the reviewer Aug. 23 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I do not agree with the reviewer that wrote the following lines concerning Masereel's work: "We can no longer flip through it with the passion and mounting excitement which Mann describes in his introduction. For us, such journeys seem to end very close to where they began." This commentator seems to arrive at this statement from an overly-pessimistic outlook. Perhaps it would be better to comment merely on the genius of the work rather than make broad socialogical/philosophical judgements which are not well grounded, (or rather which are grounded in the reviewer's own pessimism). I suggest weekend outings as a alternative to staying home and reading a novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a transcendant, wordless novel May 31 1996
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Frans Masereel made this "Novel in 165 Woodcuts" in 1919. With these 165 beautifully stark images, Masereel tells the story of a man's life - his love, his grief, his awe, his despair - without using a single word. "Passionate Journey" unfolds like a silent film; its attempt to communicate the reality of a lived life across boundaries of language (and literacy) gives it a quality of spiritual striving and - ultimately - transcendence. A small, luminous masterpiece.

"Look at these powerful black-and-white figures, their features etched in light and shadow. You will be captivated from beginning to end..." - Thomas Mann
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful biography -- Dec 17 2006
By wiredweird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
-- or is it? Masereel's remarkable little book declines to explain itself.

These 165 expressive woodcuts present snapshots from the life of one man, or so we assume. He's not all that special - he's not a great hero, leader, or lover, though he's each at one point or another. He doesn't rise above or sink below anyone else, except in the usual ways. As with Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," this book celebrates the ordinary. And, when seen in such detail, the ordinary becomes quite extraordinary.

The book opens with the un-named man's arrival by train. The crowd and surroundings excite him, as does the mechanism of the train itself. Then, he's off to his new life in the city. We see that life in an uneven, even surreal pace. Masereel's vivid, expressive images hopscotch through the years of his life. Sequences of unrelated images seem to compress years into just a few pages. Other times, long sequences examine individual stories in detail - the adoption of a daughter, his happiness in her, and her final illness and death may be the most moving. It's a life-changing event, and sets the anonymous man off on a lengthy voyage, perhaps to lose himself or to find himself again. He returns to the city life, and eventually retires. The imagery changes radically at this point. It suggests Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" and "Starry Night," and also hints at Van Gogh's death.

Or maybe not. The imagery speaks volumes, but speaks a different volume to each viewer - and will probably speak differently to me when I read it again. Although it's an illustrated story, it's not for children. It is for anyone who wants to see the grandparents of today's illustrated fiction, or who appreciates woodcut in itself. This Dover edition is a beautiful reproduction, with richly saturated blacks but paper opaque enough to keep each page from bleeding through. It's easy to enjoy - so go ahead, enjoy it.

//wiredweird
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Inspiration April 30 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When my sister gave me this book for my birthday, it was one of the greatest presents I ever received. I was inspired, comforted, and emboldened by Masereel's wordless tale of a questing spirit. Despite the fact that I've read it literally hundreds of times (almost every night when I was working in Calcutta), I always see something new in the subtle, highly expressive woodcuts. Besides the brilliance of his technique, the story Maserel tells is exciting, complex, hilarious and moving. A treaure I wouldn't trade for practically anything.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a transcendant, wordless novel May 31 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Frans Masereel made this "Novel in 165 Woodcuts" in 1919. With these 165 beautifully stark images, Masereel tells the story of a man's life - his love, his grief, his awe, his despair - without using a single word. "Passionate Journey" unfolds like a silent film; its attempt to communicate the reality of a lived life across boundaries of language (and literacy) gives it a quality of spiritual striving and - ultimately - transcendence. A small, luminous masterpiece.

"Look at these powerful black-and-white figures, their features etched in light and shadow. You will be captivated from beginning to end..." - Thomas Mann
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Catalyst May 22 2000
By Todd Kuebler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Like the Tarot, the images here are universal and transformative. They have the additional benefit of a wry sense of humor and subtle undercurrents of a humanist sensibility.
A must have for any searcher or thinker.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The amazing graphic art of Frans Masereel - "Passionate Journey" and "The City" Jan. 28 2008
By H. B. Winslow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Passionate Journey" and "The City".
Both books of woodcuts are produced by Dover Books. The presentation of both is simple but the reproduction of the woodcuts is very good. These woodcuts are as fresh today as they must have been radical when first published in 1919 and 1925 respectively. These 'books without words' are fascinating in their portrayal of the human condition. "Passionate Journey" I believe to be a true work of art. One criticism of the editions is that they lack detailed information on Frans Masereel's life and times. I would liked to have much more on the impact of his work at the time and the context with regard to German Expressionism and the Weimar Republic. These books will hopefully introduce the work of Masereel to a much wider audience. They also represent reasonable value for money.
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