7/23/15

George du Maurier, Old Nick-Otin Stealing "Away the Brains" of His Devotees

Illustration from Punch magazine; January 1869.

Drawing depicts a darkened room in which several men are engaged in a smoking orgy. Their pipes have turned into long snakes that go from their mouths to wind about their bodies. The top of each man's head is on fire and one person's head has been completely burned out. He sits slumped in a chair, his empty, bowl-like head sending up a final plume of smoke. In the background stands a blackened figure playing a fiery violin. His bow is a thin, clay pipe. Self-indulgence leads to self-consumption in a horribly graphic manner here. Once again, the terror of the scene derives from the collapse of reason and control, as civilized behavior gives way to self-inflicted violence. Drawing reflects du Maurier's anxiety over his powerful addiction to cigarettes.

Source 1
Source 2

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