Monday, July 20, 2009

Ruth Cobbs, Lands of Desire

My favourite illustrations by Ruth Cobbs, who also wrote the accompanying text called Lands of Desire, from Chatterbox. Details at end of entry.

'Where the Golden Apples grew.'
The Hesperides were the three maiden daughters of Atlas. Though they were supposed guardians of the golden apples they presented no resistance to Hercules. After slaying the serpent he took the apples. That's a bit of an anti-climax but Cobbs wrote this part of the original text much like that and with no mention as to why these apples are special.

These are no ordinary apples of course. They offer immortality. There are more interesting versions of Hercules'/Heracles' apple pilfering which explain that and the back story. Stealing these apples was Hercules' eleventh task from the twelve he had been set.

'Suddenly a waterspout came upon them.'
The True History by Lucian, was deliberately as far from the truth as possible. In his story they travelled for eight days atop a water spout, three hundred and fifty miles above the earth. To a modern layperson who is aware of the limitations of our atmosphere, this sounds fantastically high particularly for natural propulsion. It is, converting to approximately 563 kilometres. The ozone layer is between 20 to40 kilometres up. 563 km is in the ionosphere a.k.a. space. Accordingly, the voyagers land on an island that turns out to be the Moon. The story gets weirder as you go along including another island made of cheese in a sea of milk, a war with the Sun and being swallowed by a whale 200 miles long. The True History has been cited as the first example of science fiction. Read the start of it, online here.

Image accompanying the story of the Irish monk, St Brendan, and his seven year journey to a distant paradise. Read about his fabulous journey here.

Original images and text from : Chatterbox (1926, Children's Annual), published by Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., London 1926.


Anonymous said...

Good post! No one illustrates like this anymore. More about Ruth Cobbs?

Lady Meerkat said...

Thanks :) I'll see if I've got anymore next time I go through my vintage books.