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Bertie Beetle [Hubert de Jaunay] , John Santry

Gilbert the Guinea Pig and Other Tales

YEAR: 1943

COUNTRY: Australia

Cateogry icon

Title of the work

Gilbert the Guinea Pig and Other Tales

Country of the First Edition

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

1943

First Edition Details

Bertie Beetle, Gilbert the Guinea Pig and Other Tales.Sydney: Consolidated Press, 1943, 65pp.

ISBN

No ISBN

Available Onllne

nla.gov.au (accessed: August 28, 2018)

Genre

Humor
Illustrated works
Poetry

Target Audience

Children

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Margaret Bromley, University of New England, mbromle5@une.edu.au, brom_ken@bigpond.net.au

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, ehale@une.edu.au 

Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, elzbieta.olechowska@gmail.com

Male portrait

Bertie Beetle [Hubert de Jaunay] , 1889 - 1954
(Author)

Author Hubert de Jaunay published under the name Bertie Beetle and resided in south Sydney from the early 1900s until his death in 1954.


Bio prepared by Margaret Bromley, University of New England, mbromle5@une.edu.au, brom_ken@bigpond.net.au


Male portrait

John Santry , 1910 - 1990
(Illustrator)

Illustrator, John Santry was born on December 19, 1910 and grew up in the working class suburb of Pyrmont, Sydney. He attended a strict Catholic school which allowed the children to draw on Friday afternoons. In his first job after leaving school, he worked amongst artists at Paramount Pictures, cleaning the studio artists’ brushes. After studying art part time as East Sydney Technical College, he worked, firstly, as a commercial artist at Paramount Pictures, and subsequently as a black and white artist on Truth magazine. After working in advertising, in the 1930s Santry worked on Labor Daily as a cartoonist. 

Santry married Marie G. Byrne (d.u.) and moved to England, where he studied at the Westminster School and shared a studio with, amongst others, renowned Australian modernist artists, William Dobell and Donald Friend. 

After several years in the United Kingdom, shortly before the outbreak of World War Two, the Santrys moved back to Australia with their two young children, where John Santry joined the staff of Australian Consolidated Press as a “creative artist”. In the latter years of his career, Santry also taught drawing to architecture students at Sydney University. 

There is very little information on his wife, Marie Santry, an artist and painter. It is apparent that they collaborated on the illustrations of this anthology of stories for young readers.


More info at trove.nla.gov.au (accessed: March 15, 2018)


Bio prepared by Margaret Bromley, University of New England, mbromle5@une.edu.au, brom_ken@bigpond.net.au


Summary

The Sunflower tells of the nymph Clytie and her unrequited love for Apollo. Giving in to despair, she stays rooted to the ground, her face bound to follow the sun, the god Apollo. 

The Golden Touch depicts a version of the King Midas story. When Midas begs the “golden touch” from the god, Bacchus, his clothing, food and his little daughter all turn to gold. After he goes to the river to wash off the curse, there is a permanent residue of gold dust on the river bed. 

Analysis

The book is generously illustrated for an Australian children’s book of its time, considering wartime paper shortages. The poems cover double page spreads, of which every second page, the right hand page, is a watercolour. 

In the illustration of The Sunflower, amidst the green, yellow and orange watercolour, Clytie’s dejected face forms the centre of the sunflower. Through her pathos and suffering Beetle constructs Clytie as a victim of Apollo’s abandonment, which is antithetical to the narrative of Ovid’s Metamorphoses iv 204, 234- 56. Ovid tells of the mad Clytie whose head is turned by the sun, suggesting that she was foolish, to be besotted by a man, Helios, who had abandoned her for another. Clytie’s vindictive jealousy of Helios/Apollo’s love for Leucothoe spurns his hatred of her. So, she pines away, sitting naked on a rock, transfixed on the distant Apollo, and is transformed into a sunflower (helianthus) or a heliotrope, upon her death. Her ghastly pallor…[gives her the]…appearance of a bloodless plant: but part was reddened and a flower hid her face (Ovid, Metamorphoses iv. 256-273).

Beetle distills the myth to a romanticised tale of unrequited love in which Clytie’s desperate behaviour leads to her own demise. Santry’s water colour evokes a sad silly girl dressed up as a brightly clad sunflower. Published during the changing role of women in the 1940s when they were taking agency with regards to their economic role in the community and, to an extent, their own sexuality, Beetle’s portrayal of irrational love is a conservative exemplar for younger readers.

Beetle’s story of The Golden Touch, adapted from Nathanial Hawthorne’s A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys (1852) presents the tragedy of avarice for King Midas, for whom an unnamed stranger transmutes all he has into gold, and whose young daughter proves to be the most important joy of his life. In the Santry illustration King Midas is facing the viewer, dressed in a red and blue robe set against a glowing yellow background, depicting a friendly father figure emanating warmth and love. (This illustration is omitted from the online version). Traditional story illustrations depict Midas in white or gold robes in static austere poses. In Beetle’s narrative, King Midas’s subsequent atonement from Bacchus restores the catastrophe of his greedy ambitions to normality, suggesting that he moved on to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, such as the scent of the roses in his garden, but especially the love of his young daughter.

The two rhyming tales from Greek mythology are included in this anthology amongst tales of koala, kookaburra, kangaroo and platypus as well as a caricatured naked frizzy haired Aboriginal child. Described as a “little hunting black”, with a boomerang beside him, his large eyes and exaggerated red lips, he is ridiculed by being hit on the backside by the kangaroo that he was attempting to kill. 

A specific local reference is made in the poem, A Trip to the Museum in College Street, The Australian Museum, the first public museum in Australia, to see skeletons with their "outsides off and insides out".  

Santry’s representation of the Aboriginal child promotes Aboriginal people as primitive and forever childlike, whilst the “skeletons in the museum”, supports a contemporary view of Aboriginal people as “living fossils”. The Australian Museum had been an avid collector of Aboriginal remains since the 1860s and during the 1940s the skeletons of Aboriginal people were on display in several Australian museums.

The Australian content appealed to the child reader’s sense of place and appreciation of the exoticism of the country’s natural fauna, but it also promotes a sense of cultural superiority to the Aboriginal people.  Whilst The Sunflower and The Golden Touch ensured some familiarity with traditional classic mythology, their inclusion engages with the desire to transmit intergenerational literary icons as integral to the pursuit of higher levels of social and moral progress, especially during the War, a time of social instability.

Consolidated Press was associated mostly with newspaper publication, the new building in 1925 reflected an important period of the modernisation of Sydney in the inter war years. 


Further Reading

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales, Columbus, Ohio State University Press, 1972.

Yellow cloud
Leaf pattern
Leaf pattern

Title of the work

Gilbert the Guinea Pig and Other Tales

Country of the First Edition

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

1943

First Edition Details

Bertie Beetle, Gilbert the Guinea Pig and Other Tales.Sydney: Consolidated Press, 1943, 65pp.

ISBN

No ISBN

Available Onllne

nla.gov.au (accessed: August 28, 2018)

Genre

Humor
Illustrated works
Poetry

Target Audience

Children

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Margaret Bromley, University of New England, mbromle5@une.edu.au, brom_ken@bigpond.net.au

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, ehale@une.edu.au 

Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, elzbieta.olechowska@gmail.com

Male portrait

Bertie Beetle [Hubert de Jaunay] (Author)

Author Hubert de Jaunay published under the name Bertie Beetle and resided in south Sydney from the early 1900s until his death in 1954.


Bio prepared by Margaret Bromley, University of New England, mbromle5@une.edu.au, brom_ken@bigpond.net.au


Male portrait

John Santry (Illustrator)

Illustrator, John Santry was born on December 19, 1910 and grew up in the working class suburb of Pyrmont, Sydney. He attended a strict Catholic school which allowed the children to draw on Friday afternoons. In his first job after leaving school, he worked amongst artists at Paramount Pictures, cleaning the studio artists’ brushes. After studying art part time as East Sydney Technical College, he worked, firstly, as a commercial artist at Paramount Pictures, and subsequently as a black and white artist on Truth magazine. After working in advertising, in the 1930s Santry worked on Labor Daily as a cartoonist. 

Santry married Marie G. Byrne (d.u.) and moved to England, where he studied at the Westminster School and shared a studio with, amongst others, renowned Australian modernist artists, William Dobell and Donald Friend. 

After several years in the United Kingdom, shortly before the outbreak of World War Two, the Santrys moved back to Australia with their two young children, where John Santry joined the staff of Australian Consolidated Press as a “creative artist”. In the latter years of his career, Santry also taught drawing to architecture students at Sydney University. 

There is very little information on his wife, Marie Santry, an artist and painter. It is apparent that they collaborated on the illustrations of this anthology of stories for young readers.


More info at trove.nla.gov.au (accessed: March 15, 2018)


Bio prepared by Margaret Bromley, University of New England, mbromle5@une.edu.au, brom_ken@bigpond.net.au


Summary

The Sunflower tells of the nymph Clytie and her unrequited love for Apollo. Giving in to despair, she stays rooted to the ground, her face bound to follow the sun, the god Apollo. 

The Golden Touch depicts a version of the King Midas story. When Midas begs the “golden touch” from the god, Bacchus, his clothing, food and his little daughter all turn to gold. After he goes to the river to wash off the curse, there is a permanent residue of gold dust on the river bed. 

Analysis

The book is generously illustrated for an Australian children’s book of its time, considering wartime paper shortages. The poems cover double page spreads, of which every second page, the right hand page, is a watercolour. 

In the illustration of The Sunflower, amidst the green, yellow and orange watercolour, Clytie’s dejected face forms the centre of the sunflower. Through her pathos and suffering Beetle constructs Clytie as a victim of Apollo’s abandonment, which is antithetical to the narrative of Ovid’s Metamorphoses iv 204, 234- 56. Ovid tells of the mad Clytie whose head is turned by the sun, suggesting that she was foolish, to be besotted by a man, Helios, who had abandoned her for another. Clytie’s vindictive jealousy of Helios/Apollo’s love for Leucothoe spurns his hatred of her. So, she pines away, sitting naked on a rock, transfixed on the distant Apollo, and is transformed into a sunflower (helianthus) or a heliotrope, upon her death. Her ghastly pallor…[gives her the]…appearance of a bloodless plant: but part was reddened and a flower hid her face (Ovid, Metamorphoses iv. 256-273).

Beetle distills the myth to a romanticised tale of unrequited love in which Clytie’s desperate behaviour leads to her own demise. Santry’s water colour evokes a sad silly girl dressed up as a brightly clad sunflower. Published during the changing role of women in the 1940s when they were taking agency with regards to their economic role in the community and, to an extent, their own sexuality, Beetle’s portrayal of irrational love is a conservative exemplar for younger readers.

Beetle’s story of The Golden Touch, adapted from Nathanial Hawthorne’s A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys (1852) presents the tragedy of avarice for King Midas, for whom an unnamed stranger transmutes all he has into gold, and whose young daughter proves to be the most important joy of his life. In the Santry illustration King Midas is facing the viewer, dressed in a red and blue robe set against a glowing yellow background, depicting a friendly father figure emanating warmth and love. (This illustration is omitted from the online version). Traditional story illustrations depict Midas in white or gold robes in static austere poses. In Beetle’s narrative, King Midas’s subsequent atonement from Bacchus restores the catastrophe of his greedy ambitions to normality, suggesting that he moved on to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, such as the scent of the roses in his garden, but especially the love of his young daughter.

The two rhyming tales from Greek mythology are included in this anthology amongst tales of koala, kookaburra, kangaroo and platypus as well as a caricatured naked frizzy haired Aboriginal child. Described as a “little hunting black”, with a boomerang beside him, his large eyes and exaggerated red lips, he is ridiculed by being hit on the backside by the kangaroo that he was attempting to kill. 

A specific local reference is made in the poem, A Trip to the Museum in College Street, The Australian Museum, the first public museum in Australia, to see skeletons with their "outsides off and insides out".  

Santry’s representation of the Aboriginal child promotes Aboriginal people as primitive and forever childlike, whilst the “skeletons in the museum”, supports a contemporary view of Aboriginal people as “living fossils”. The Australian Museum had been an avid collector of Aboriginal remains since the 1860s and during the 1940s the skeletons of Aboriginal people were on display in several Australian museums.

The Australian content appealed to the child reader’s sense of place and appreciation of the exoticism of the country’s natural fauna, but it also promotes a sense of cultural superiority to the Aboriginal people.  Whilst The Sunflower and The Golden Touch ensured some familiarity with traditional classic mythology, their inclusion engages with the desire to transmit intergenerational literary icons as integral to the pursuit of higher levels of social and moral progress, especially during the War, a time of social instability.

Consolidated Press was associated mostly with newspaper publication, the new building in 1925 reflected an important period of the modernisation of Sydney in the inter war years. 


Further Reading

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales, Columbus, Ohio State University Press, 1972.

Yellow cloud