May 8, 2018

A-Z Reflections

        Well, I don’t generally publish my reflections about my blogging because why should anyone care?  But this year they’re asking that the Reflections post be linked in order to tally up everyone who completed the A-Z Challenge, so here are a few thoughts so that I dutifully have reflections to link:
     - I should have included a one-sentence intro at the top of each post reiterating what my theme was, so that people who dipped in here and there would understand what they were finding.
     - I wish the spreadsheet of the links for each day was searchable (or maybe it was, and I just didn’t know how.)  Also that it included the title of each post.
     - My speed would definitely be to do the alphabet over two months instead of just one, but I certainly enjoyed coming up with all the posts, and managed to keep ahead of the days better this year than last (although that probably had more to do with my theme than with my somehow getting better at blog challenges).
        And now I shall share something a little more interesting for all you alphabet lovers.  This alphabet, illustrated with hand-colored woodcuts, comes from The Hobby-Horse, or the High Road to Learning from 1820.  There are some really interesting details, especially considering that this was most definitely intended to be educational for children.  What children’s alphabet today would include “D - was a Drunkard” or “G - was a Gamester”?  What educational book would teach children that the Robber should be whipped, the Oyster-wench is a scold, and the Vintner is a sot?  And notice that we're missing the letters I and U; they were often considered mere variants of J and V.  (Plus it's easier to arrange 24 letters than 26... and would have made April's challenge a little easier, too.)
        There are some pretty amusing details, as well, such as the King governing a mouse, for no apparent reason other than making a rhyme, which presumably also explains why on earth an archer should shoot a frog.  There’s the elegant Lady dressed in such current fashion that you can date the book from her attire alone.  There’s the Quaker who looks extremely un-Quakerly, apparently refusing to bow not because of a belief in equality but because of sheer overwhelming snobbery.
        These particular wood block prints are certainly not my favorite style, although some of the people’s expressions are skillfully done like political cartoons, and the hand coloring in this edition, though I tend to prefer my woodcuts uncolored, is exceptionally high quality.  Mostly, though, this alphabet is a fascinating demonstration of how children’s books illuminate their own time and agenda with remarkable clarity… and that’s surely amusing and educational.

[Pictures: “A was an Archer” alphabet from The Hobby-Horse, or the High Road to Learning, published by J. Harris and Son, 1820 (Images from A Nursery Companion by Iona and Peter Opie, 1980).]


Kristin said...

Nice alphabet book. Different indeed from those today. I think a short intro is a good idea. I wish I could make mine shorter! You could start the next challenge in March!

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

"They don't make them like they used to..." But in this case that's probably a good thing!
And I actually did start the challenge in March! =D