Spending too much time with Gustave Doré’s drawings almost makes me wistful for my childhood terror of demons. Back then, because of my mom’s obsession with possession and exorcism, and the impromptu deliverance sessions that would spring up in our living room, the spirit world seemed immediate and ever-threatening, a place the Devil could emerge from with his scythe and suddenly drag you off to.
If there’s an artist who captures the spirit of Halloween — not the contemporary, let’s-all-be-sexy-witches version, but the Celtic notion of a night when the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead blurs — it’s Doré.
The image at the top of this post is taken from his illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” Such a perfect union of despairing, supernaturally-obsessed souls.
Someone has put together a great site that allows you to send illustrations from “The Raven,” The Divine Comedy, The Bible, or “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” to name just a few, as email postcards. Here’s one from The Inferno.
Past Halloween posts:
- The “Hallelujah parties” (fundamentalist substitutes for trick-or-treating) of my youth.