“This is the city and I am one of the citizens, Whatever interests the rest interests me…”
– Walt Whitman
The City (France: La Ville: cent bois gravés) is a fabulous 1925 wordless novel by Flemish artist Frans Masereel (1889-1972). In 100 monochrome woodcut prints, Masereel looks at many sides of life in a big city. All life is out there in his unnamed European city between the wars. But these miniature masterpieces are timeless.
In the introduction to Masereel’s Passionate Journey, Thomas Mann wrote:
“Darken the room! Sit down with this book next to your reading lamp and concentrate on its pictures as you turn page after page. Don’t deliberate too long! It’s no tragedy if you fail to grasp every picture at once. Look at these powerful black-and-white figures, their features etched in light and shadow . You will be captivated from beginning to end: from the first picture showing the train plunging through dense smoke and bearing the hero toward life, to the very last picture showing the skeleton-faced figure wandering among the stars. And where are you? Has not this passionate journey had an incomparably deeper and purer impact on you than you have ever felt before?”