The "Earth" Book of Spare was an elemental and chaotic thing, full of significant art, and of still more significant conception. So mighty a theme may only remain littered with fragments, each, like the Sphinx, an unread riddle, existing in the mind amid a turmoil of unaccustomed thought. But the present series of designs occupies the more circumscribed area of local allegory on a physical plane, the artist aiming not only to stir the optical centres by agreeable contours and adjacencies, when he adjusts with powerful deliberation the actual to a purpose which extends in his mind beyond executive considerations. For that is a narrow scope to which some would compel art, as though a predisposition to beauty were the sole equipment desirable for the expression of life. Popular art, in the sense that this book can never be popular, arises, indeed, from an extraordinary pessimism : it is an unwholesome flattery of the environment and circumstance from out whose grip the man at length emerges equipped for faith by knowledge. And Spare, with the unflinching assurance of the optimist as to the ultimate, treads with reforming energy where the effeminate and parsonic would whimper or weep helplessly. His is no gently-advancing theory, but his satires (or satyrs, as he loves to call them) arrive as full-fledged and assertive dogma. 12 woodcut plates printed on rectos with miniature vignettes on versos. A 13th woodcut plate faces the title page.


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A Book of Satyrs - Austin O Spare