[Daily article] February 18: Southern Cross (wordless novel)

Southern Cross is the sole wordless novel by Canadian artist Laurence
Hyde (1914–1987). Published in 1951, its 118 wood-engraved images
describe the effect of atomic testing on Polynesian islanders. Hyde
(pictured) made the book to express his anger at the US military’s
nuclear tests in the Bikini Atoll. The story tells of the American
military evacuating villagers from a Polynesian island before testing
nuclear weapons. A drunken soldier attempts to rape a fisherman’s wife
during the evacuation, and the fisherman kills him. Their child
witnesses the death of its parents and destruction of its environment
from the atomic tests. The wordless novel genre had flourished primarily
during the 1920s and 1930s, but by the 1940s even the most prolific
practitioners had abandoned it. Hyde was familiar with some such works
by Lynd Ward, Otto Nückel, and the form’s pioneer Frans Masereel. The
high-contrast artwork of Southern Cross features dynamic curving lines
uncommon in wood engraving and combines abstract imagery with realistic

Read more:

Today’s selected anniversaries:


Eighty Years’ War: Off the coast of Cornwall, a Spanish fleet
intercepted an important Anglo-Dutch merchant convoy of 44 vessels
escorted by 6 warships, destroying or capturing 20 of them.


A mutiny by captive Malagasy began at sea on the slave ship
Meermin, leading to the ship’s destruction on Cape Agulhas in present-
day South Africa and the recapture of the instigators.


Kenyan independence leader Dedan Kimathi, who spearheaded the
Mau Mau Uprising, was executed by British authorities, who saw him as a


NASA’s first Space Shuttle, Enterprise, made its first “flight”
atop a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (pictured).


Terrorist bombs exploded on the Samjhauta Express train in
Panipat, Haryana, India, killing 68 people.

Wiktionary’s word of the day:

(obsolete, rare) Capable of being tamed; tameable, domesticable.

Wikiquote quote of the day:

  We all know nations that can be identified by the flight of
writers from their shores. These are regimes whose fear of unmonitored
writing is justified because truth is trouble. It is trouble for the
warmonger, the torturer, the corporate thief, the political hack, the
corrupt justice system, and for a comatose public. Unpersecuted,
unjailed, unharrassed writers are trouble for the ignorant bully, the
sly racist, and the predators feeding off the world’s resources. The
alarm, the disquiet, writers raise is instructive because it is open and
vulnerable, because if unpoliced it is threatening. Therefore the
historical suppression of writers is the earliest harbinger of the
steady peeling away of additional rights and liberties that will follow.
–Toni Morrison

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