A Cure for Gloom, being the full set of Fan-Target Toba Pictures as first published at Osaka, Japan, in 1720 plus fables with & without morals
. John Weatherhill, Inc. . Tokyo
NC1703.T63 1965 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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Here is a curious book, starting from its unusual size of 5¼ x 9¼. The 1720 Toba-Picture Fan Targets were popular comic woodblocks, a prototype of cartoon books. This art's appeal was distinctly plebeian. This edition adds a characteristic tint to each of its three component books. The texts added here are modern creations. A comment on the original woodcuts spoke of very strange paintings but somehow you will find them very fondable and attractive. The human representations are deliberately slightly askew, with strange faces and elongated arms. The stories' humor is generally slightly off-color, often dealing with the embarrassing revelation of older men's genitals or with word-plays on the male member. A good example occurs in Top Spinning (62), where everything said about the men's tops can be applied as well to their penises. Perhaps three of the best of these stories are One Hat, Two Heads (34), A Lord Disrobed (36), and Fox Trap (40). These engaging stories remind me of those in Perry's Aesopica, especially when a story that looks merely funny turns out to be a genuine fable. The last story's last line speaks of smiles and laughter as the only cures for gloom (68). The back flap of the dust jacket gives an excellent account of the elements of the book's format, down to the traditional Japanese wrapping paper that makes up the dust jacket.