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The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb Hardcover – October 19, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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“To say this book is a remarkable volume or even a landmark volume in comic art is somewhat of an understatement.... stands on its own as one of this century’s most ambitious artistic adaptations of the West’s oldest continuously told story.” (Paul Buhle - The Jewish Daily Forward)
“It’s a cartoonist’s equivalent of the Sistine Chapel. It’s awesome. Crumb has done a real artist’s turn here―he’s challenged himself and defied all expectation. ... I’ve read Genesis before. But never have I found it so compelling. By placing it squarely in the Middle East―and populating it with distinctively Semitic-looking people―Crumb makes it come alive brilliantly.” (Susan Jane Gilman - Morning Edition, NPR)
“[A] beautifully drawn and relentlessly faithful rendition of the first 50 chapters of the Bible by an apostle of the 1960s and sometimes profane progenitor of underground comics. Crumb has produced what could be the ultimate graphic novel.” (David Colton - USA Today)
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Top Customer Reviews
In March of '09, some online articles were calling this upcoming work "subversive"... Not so. There's no intent to be comical here...or to insult Judeo-Christian theology. It seems, in every sense, to be a legitimate illustration of the Book of Genesis. And, I found it beautiful, because Crumb's attention to visual detail is beautiful.
Crumb relies on two sources for the translation including the King James version, and more so, Robert Alter's "The Five Books Of Moses". So, sure, there may be some disagreement in translation for individuals who are version specific. I would suggest we look past that and just enjoy the book for its merits and Crumb's talent.
One should be aware that a few panels may be considered "steamy" for younger children. Some nudity appears and, for instance, when in Chapter 19 it is written that Lot's daughters gave their father wine to drink and then lay with him, Crumb illustrates it. It is my belief, however, that Crumb's intent here is simply illustration, not subversion.
At any rate, it is an amazing work of art, not to mention a book of many important stories.
Five years later we have what amounts to a cartoonist's answer to the Sistene Chapel, audicious and bold I guess in the same way that great art always seems to be audacious and bold.
For those who would suggest that the work satirzes its material or attempts to demean the underlying Biblical text I would suggest they re-read their Genesis. Where the Bible says Judah had relations with his daughter Tamar thinking her a cultic prostitute, the illustrations show Judah having relations with Tamar thinking her a cultic prostitute. Where the Bible says Lot while drunk had relations with each of his daughters in a cave, the illustrations show Lot while drunk having relations with each of his daughters in cave.
In this way, and with all due respect, those offended by Crumb illustrations should probably in fact be offended by the text as well.
If this material was noteworthy only for its prurient value, it would be easy to dismiss but the work is filled with nuance and mood reflecting the nuance and mood of the underlying text. For example, the anxious confabulation of Adam and Eve when confronted by God for eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is readily revealed in their faces (including a glance of reproof by Eve at having been blamed by Adam). Later we see Abraham in sorrow as he contemplates the problems of his people, dimly depicted as the hallow faced of the Holocaust we have become so familiar with.
In all this work ably succeeds in doing what it set out to do: to provide an illustrated version of Genesis. That it was produced by an atheist does not rob it of any of its artistic potential nor does it prevent us from appreciating it on whatever level we may choose to do so.
It is important to be clear that this is not a "comic book" version of Genesis for kids, paraphrasing and simplifying the story, leaving out the disturbing parts. Nor is it an irreverent, witty satire a la Monty Python. No, as Crumb says in the introduction, his basic approach was that of an illustrator, not of a redactor, or paraphraser. He takes the story as given to him. But the illustrator picks and chooses what to draw, which images the writings bring to his or her mind, and how to render the material. As near as I can tell, an essentially complete English text of Genesis is here, and it is the source of all written material, except for Crumb's footnotes which he adds to explain the Hebrew original.
It should be pointed out early in this review that illustrating Genesis certainly gives R. Crumb a chance to draw voluptuous, high-breasted women with big fine legs and bubble butts. Well, I'm sure he had some fun with this aspect, and the project certainly gave him a chance to indulge it. Because there is plenty of sex in Genesis; Crumb illustrates the text, never inventing any gratuitous lust. It certainly reminded me how much Genesis is concerned with procreation, marriage, and whose children were whose. Up until after the Flood, Yahweh's only command is 'Be fruitful and multiply.' So Crumb's proclivities were appropriate to this project, and faithful to the text. There is nothing 'dirty' in any thing he draws in this book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An incredible amount of work went into this masterpiece. Incredible.Published 18 days ago by Greg Laxton
Before you buy this book, there are some things you need to know:
• Robert Alter’s translation of the Book of Genesis (1996) was the main Biblical source. Read more
Great, no holds bared book. I tells it like it is. Can you handle the truth?Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Finally, a reason to read the Bible. A bit of a shocker actually. I have given it as a gift, too. Must admit, I am an R. Crumb fan.Published 4 months ago by Been There