Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Goblin Snob

I don't really know what to make of this rather odd book, which was published in 1855 or thereabouts and which is, like its creator Henry Louis Stephens, now solidly obscure. I have reproduced below the opening pages plus a handful of engravings from the early part of the book. Click through the images for a clearer view.

The text of the poem alternates with the artwork, and the whole thing runs to 96 pages. The poem's hero is a boy who seems to be made of rubber, which is why he is called "Coo-chook" (from "caoutchouc," a now disused term that must be one of the very few Tupi-derived words in English).

The Mephistophelian fellow springing up from the coal-hole is the Goblin Snob himself, who turns up to provoke mayhem at various points in the boy's career.

In the end poor Coo-chook is given up for dead but revives, while the Goblin Snob becomes a Peer of the Realm. The whole thing is probably satirical, though satirical of exactly what no longer seems clear. I'm afraid these scans leave a bit to be desired but I hope they give a least a sense of Stephens's curious comic artistry.

Bud Bloom Poetry and 50 Watts have illustrations and text of another Stephens work, Death and Burial of Poor Cock Robin.

Update (August 2020): A tattered copy of the book has turned up on eBay including the pictorial cover below, which my copy lacks and which I've not seen before.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this! We have only a cover for this, so this is very helpful to find the story and the images.