The Beaver Pond

 Polynesian Lynd Ward, the master wood engraver, produced a remarkable body of work. From 1929 to 1937 he produced six novels in wood engravings. No words detracted from his strong images. All plot and characters sprang from the curl of a wood shaving pulled away from the endgrain of a wood block. Even today, Ward's sense of humanity cuts as sharply as his graver's tool. The images are sensuous. The stark black and white lines are pure ink and paper, you feel that nothing is hidden. The emotional appeal surprises; it feels primal. There are no words to dilute the story. Lynd Ward's novels seem fresh and current today.

The images here are meant to give you a taste of Lynd Ward. Check the bibliography, then your local used bookstore. Some books illustrated by Ward can be found for as little as three or four dollars. If you find an unusual Ward illustrated book or need help locating a particular book, please write me. Lynd Ward chose not to use words in his novels. I will honor this spirit by not providing a plot synopsis. Quoted text, unless otherwise attributed, are Ward's own words.

Ward's first novel God's Man was published in 1929. "It is not easy for me to retrace the first steps that led to my own involvement in the idea of a story in pictures. It is certainly not a path one starts down blithely with a sudden conscious determination that "today I'll do a story in pictures." There is a long period that precedes the formulation of anything very specific. It seems to start with an almost obsessive concentration on some aspect of the human condition that keeps nudging the imagination until somewhere within the microcosm of the mind a single figure emerges. This figure is seen fuzzily at first, then gradually acquires physical definition of character. Slowly the background elements come into focus, and the figure assumes an identity that seems to exist independently in time and space. Soon there is movement and things begin to happen."

God's Man was followed by Madman's Drum in 1930, Wild Pilgrimage (1932), Prelude to a Million Years (1933), Song Without Words (1936), and in 1937 Vertigo.

Ward also illustrated books and created other art, from bookplates to notecards. His bibliography ranges from illustrating Alec Waugh to Goethe.

Milt Gross, the cartoonist, published a delicious parody of novels without words, He Done Her Wrong. If you feel the need of a little comedy relief, mosey over to Gross' Alaska where the melodrama begins.

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Lynd Ward engravings and quoted text are copyright © Harry Abrams Co. and Lynd Ward
Contents, unless otherwise noted, are copyright © 1996 Don Chaps. All rights reserved.