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The Cage by Martin Vaughn-James

The Cage (1975)

by Martin Vaughn-James

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382298,882 (3.22)1



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I can't really say much about this. Everything stated about it in the Introduction by Seth is quite true. I found it too esoteric to be able to really write about. I found more enjoyment in looking at the pictures without reading the text. I also found that I could see faces in many of the illustrations and sometimes the entire head. Perhaps this is my own mind playing tricks on me or are they really there. The hidden people in these images. Reminds me a bit of Renee French, especially "H Day" but I like her work much better! ( )
  ElizaJane | Jun 2, 2014 |
"As usual I didn't pay for this book but instead got it for the purposes of review. Also as usual despite that kindness I give my candid thoughts below.

This is the part of the review where I usually sum up the plot in a few quick sentences. I'm not going to do that this time because even after reading it I just don't know. In fact, according to the introduction, even people who have studied the book at length don't really know what it's about. Even the author himself doesn't claim complete knowledge of the book's real intent. So if they don't know then I certainly cannot claim to.

The best I can really do is to describe what I think it is and you can judge from there whether you want to give it a shot. From a narrative point of view it seems to be a view of one particular place in space viewed from various points in time. The book careens back and forth from present to future to past... or is it past to future to present... or... well, see paragraph two. Nobody knows what it's about so it's certainly not obvious even what order things happen in.

From a visual perspective the drawings are at times detailed and at others incisively minimalist. The artist conveys a poignant series of emotions centering on isolation and meandering widely. Any one page of this book could hang in an art gallery and lead to much thoughtful discussion as to what exactly is being depicted.

To sum up, should you buy this book? That depends. If you are a person who is in need of a strong narrative flow and clear procession from A to B to C then this is not the book for you. If, however, you are one who is intrigued by the idea of a book that you will read but not understand, and in fact read five times and understand in five different ways, then you need this on your shelf. This book is a large red-glowing question mark and if you're OK with that then this is worth a look.

PS: Remember, the voting buttons are there for you to indicate whether you think what I had to say was useful in making a decision. They're not asking you if my review makes you want to buy anything. So please vote appropriately and if you choose to vote my review unhelpful please leave me a brief comment so I can improve future reviews. Thanks!" ( )
  slavenrm | Feb 5, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Martin Vaughn-Jamesprimary authorall editionscalculated
SethForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First published in 1975, this work foreshadowed the rise of the graphic novel. While promoted by insiders in the years that followed, it is not well-known. Its relative obscurity may be due to the late Vaughn-James's devotion to his highly personal vision. Presented here are a series of black-and-white drawings, nearly clinical in their precision, detailing an enigmatic structure in an unspecified place and time. Accompanying the illustrations are bits of text, which are perhaps explicative in their unseen whole but as fragments offer only tantalizing hints of possible unity. Nonlinear in its approach to both space and time, the study mixes the banally familiar with the disturbingly alien. What emerges is not comprehensible in any mundane sense, but it presents enough of an illusion of a greater whole lurking just out of frame to be addictively engaging. It is a masterpiece, demonstrating a level of skill and insight very few have even aspired to in the nearly 40 years since its initial publication… (more)

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