03 from The Nature of the American Male chapter, 8 x 9cms. Unconscious Drawing , " Here the masculine sense of Ironic Detachment rises superior to the Love Urge, and can take it or let it alone." A cod version of over-inflated Symbolic Programmes by such artists as Elihu Vedder. Other images from The Best of Clarence Day. Many share a sort of wary misogyny with Thurber, e.g. After the Battle by Day.


I have grouped these two illustrators together because I believe Day influenced Thurber, and that both were the illustrator without pretensions, unafraid to make marks.

 
Clarence Day was one of that fine generation of American humourists that flourished after 1919. In the Oxford Book of Humorous Prose OUP 1992, Frank Norden describes Day's career and reprints sections from Life With Father . I have Day's illustrated Thoughts Without Words published by Knopf in New York and London in 1928. It shows the extent to which Day found a naive style of drawing, almost jotting down with an all-pervading melancholy images to accompany his prose pieces.. Day had retired from the navy because of ill-health and took to writing - initially stories of well-to-do New York folk in the 1880's. Their early publication in the New Yorker led to an immediate jump in circulation and to the flourishing of Day's career.

Bottom right, the classic Thurber - It is safe to say that his drawings didn't get much better, while Thurber's did. Thurber also found a way of harnessing his prose to the drawings, usually with beautifully turned captions. Not a word wasted.
 Thurber made his mark first with Is Sex Necessary Or Why You feel the Way You Do , a joint production with his great friend E.B.White (two New Yorker staff members). My edition is the London edition of 1930. The edition prints 52 drawings by Thurber. Two main themes are identified by White in a fascinating note at the end of the book - "the melancholy of sex", and the "implausibility of animals". They differ markedly from his later drawings.
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