Asia ~ Africa

The Old Man Mad about Drawing

A Tale of Hokusai

François Place

Translated by William Rodarmor

Hardbound, hundreds of watercolor illustrations throughout, dustjacketed


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Here we have a book that soars beyond any and all reasonable expectations -- it is a story worthy of Hokusai's life and genius (he is one of my favorite artists); anyone over 10 years old who reads it will hardly be able to put it down (I loved it!); the abundant illustrations charm, delight, capitivate and are beautiful; and the book itself, how it feels and how it looks, right down to the quality of the paper and the typeface, is a wonderful work of art. This is a story not to be missed, a book to treasure for many generations.

The author brings the swirling world of nineteenth-century Edo to life with an astonishing vibrance. By the time you are done with The Old Man Mad about Drawing, you will swear you can smell the food and feel the dust of the streets beneath your feet. AND, you will come away knowing a huge amount about the various styles of painting, engraving, and printing that were the life blood of Edo culture -- all while being so engrossed in the story itself that you barely knew you were learning so much.

Hokusai began as an illustrator of poetry books but came to abandon traditional engraving to perfect a technique of colored woodcut, in what many consider his greatest work, The Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji. His life was unsettled, his marriages uncertain, and his business affairs irregular, but his energy was boundless. He left for posterity thousands of sketches and drawings, illustrated books and prints, saying - just before he died in 1889, "If heaven gives me ten more years (or even an extension of five), I shal certainly become a true artist."

This is a glorious, wonderful story bound in a remarkable book -- children in 5th grade and older will love it, it can easily hold the interest of 8th graders and serve as a biography within the Waldorf curriculum.

Beautiful for everyone over 10!