Friday, March 19, 2010
GENESIS: R. CRUMB'S ILLUSTRATED VERSION
Getting back in the reading groove again four months after the brain surgery. This was the graphic book I chose when I was still having trouble with straight prose.
Turned out to be a wise selection. I've read Genesis in all the classic versions and many of the newer ones. The best straight prose one is Stephen Mitchell's translation, where he not only does a great job of rendering lot of ancient language into contemporary "American" while staying true to the original text, he also combines several versions of the same stories into one and makes the chronology more logical.
As anyone knows who's read the first book of the Bible, like the rest of the Bible, it often doesn't make any sense or directly contradicts itself. I have no clue how those who pretend to take the Bible literally (like the dentist heading the Texas school textbook board who says he does and that's why he believes the earth is only ten thousand years old and that textbooks should say that!) defend all the inconsistencies and contradictory sections of the Bible, any of it.
But I will say this, reading R. Crumb's illustrated version of GENESIS brought the stories, contradictory or not, to life in a way no other version of this first book of the Bible ever has. It's brilliant in that way. Even the "begats" seemed more accessible and engaging!
Crumb says he took this on just for the challenge and to learn something and he obviously did. The book is almost worth it just for his end notes alone. In which he highlights some of the pre-Biblical roots of some of the Bible stories, but also explains how he settled on costume choices and which version of famous verses to use, etc.
I highly recommend it just as an art book, but also as a great way of reading or rereading the opening stories of the Bible that have so influenced our world and still seem to be. I liked it so much, I'm praying he decides to do another illustrated book of the Bible, like the Gospels. That, I suspect, would be a real page turner.