Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Magic Pudding

"The Magic Pudding is a pie, except when it’s something else, like a steak, or a jam donut, or an apple dumpling, or whatever its owner wants it to be. And it never runs out. No matter how many slices you cut, there’s always something left over. It’s magic.

But the Magic Pudding is also alive. It walks and it talks and it’s got a personality like no other. A meaner, sulkier, snider, snarlinger Pudding you’ve never met.

So Bunyip Bluegum (the koala bear) finds out when he joins Barnacle Bill (the sailor) and Sam Sawnoff (the penguin bold) as members of the Noble Society of Pudding Owners, whose “members are required to wander along the roads, indulgin’ in conversation, song and story, and eatin’ at regular intervals from the Pudding.”

Wild and woolly, funny and outrageously fun, The Magic Pudding stands somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and The Stinky Cheese Man as one of the craziest books ever written for young readers."
[That's a quote from the product description but I suspect it derives from an earlier preface]

Norman Lindsay (1879-1969) [W] wrote 'The Magic Pudding' in 1918 to settle an argument with a friend who claimed that children only liked to read about fairies. Lindsay insisted that they liked to read about food. The author of several novels, Lindsay was also a caricaturist, painter, sculptor and sketch artist, renowned in Australia and beyond.

2 anthropomorphic cartoon koala bears dressed in suits

sketch of skipping animals : koala and pengin with man and pudding

cartoon koalas eat food in tree-house

cartoon koala jumping up + down with kangaroos and lizard watching

sketch of koala in suit holding stomach

walking cartoon koala approaches kangaroos

illustration of two anthropomorphic koala bears, one with scissors

cartoon figures : pudding with stick appendages on wombat's head

cartoon womabat and possum walking bipedally

rear view of 2 koalas wearing suits

court scene : sketch of animal participants

anthropomorphic animals in tree-house (sketch)

koala illustration from The Magic Pudding - Norman Lindsay, 1918

This book became something of an accidental, or reluctant, local classic, considering that its author had little regard for it. Lindsay described it as his "little bundle of piffle" and believed that it held him back from becoming a serious writer.

In its original incarnation, 'The Magic Pudding' was an expensive, limited edition art book, featuring a large selection of illustrations from the more than one hundred pencil, ink and watercolour sketches that Lindsay had prepared for it. But he was opposed to the high cost of the publication:
"I wouldn’t have minded if it had come out as a kids’ book, to be sold at a price that would allow the kid to tear it up with a clear conscience".
  • 'The Magic Pudding' illustrations above come from a twenty five year old copy and the B&W lithographs (out of order) were difficult to scan because of the shiny page finish.
  • The original cover can be seen below, and the title page gave 'The Magic Pudding: Being The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum and his friends Bill Barnacle and Sam Sawnoff' as the book's full name.
  • 'The Magic Pudding' is in-print and available from Amazon.
  • A few book characters, painted in watercolour in the 1950s by Lindsay, can be seen at the State Library of NSW site {presumably he came to like the characters in his dotage}.
  • Wikipedia: Norman Lindsay & 'The Magic Pudding'.
  • A feature (cartoon) film was made in 2000 but was not successful (despite the vocal presence of Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neil and John Cleese); excerpts can be found at Youtube.
  • 'The Magic Pudding' in full at: Wikisource and Project Gutenberg.
  • Previously: kids; australia; australia AND kids.

book cover norman lindsay

For anyone who doesn't know, Will Schofield (from A Journey Round My Skull fame and glory) has moved to more salubrious digs, with a much-easier-to-type site name: 50 Watts. Bookmark it / share it, but don't ignore it.


MrCachet said...

I've been following Will for a couple of months now. Fresh eye candy on an almost hourly basis...

These are really good illustrations. The one of the tree house is especially good.

peacay said...

--Fresh eye candy on an almost hourly basis--

I know, it's just pathetic the lengths that guy will go to for an audience ;- )

Thanks MrCachet, I'll mark you off the list.

always.ticking said...

Love the drawings!

Carol said...

Thanks PK, an oldie but a goodie. Lovely illustrations and nice to see an Australian book among all the fabulous illustrations.

The Damsel said...

I only read about fairies and food myself.
Lovely pictures!

Elk said...

Cool this was always one of my favourites growing up

Pookah said...

Alright. I think this might be an insane coincidence. I have a window open in my browser - BibliOddyssey November 28th 2012. I logged on five minutes ago. For no discernible reason whatsoever I spontaneously googled "The Magic Pudding", and this entry was number 6 along, the first I clicked on. Back here again in one move. I've pored over today's entry on BibliO, and there is absolutely no evidence there that this entry exists.

peacay said...

Pookah, you can email me peacay ---> gmail if you want because I really don't know what you're saying here, sorry.

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