Nothing Left Out

My copy of The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb just arrived!

From the introduction:

The Book of Genesis

I, R. CRUMB, THE ILLUSTRATOR OF THIS BOOK, HAVE, TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY, FAITHFULLY REPRODUCED EVERY WORD OF THE ORIGINAL TEXT, WHICH I DERIVED FROM SEVERAL SOURCES, INCLUDING THE KING JAMES VERSION, BUT MOSTLY FROM ROBERT ALTER’S RECENT TRANSLATION, THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES (2004). IN A FEW PLACES I VENTURED TO DO A LITTLE INTERPRETATION OF MY OWN, IF I THOUGHT THE WORDS COULD BE MADE CLEARER, BUT I REFRAINED FROM INDULGING TOO OFTEN IN SUCH “CREATIVITY,” AND SOMETIMES LET IT STAND IN ITS CONVOLUTED VAGUENESS RATHER THAN MONKEY AROUND WITH SUCH A VENERABLE TEXT.

EVERY OTHER COMIC BOOK VERSION OF THE BIBLE THAT I’VE SEEN CONTAINS PASSAGES OF COMPLETELY MADE-UP NARRATIVE AND DIALOGUE, IN AN ATTEMPT TO STREAMLINE AND “MODERNIZE” THE OLD SCRIPTURES, AND STILL, THESE VARIOUS COMIC BOOK BIBLES ALL CLAIM TO ADHERE TO THE BELIEF THAT THE BIBLE IS “THE WORD OF GOD,” OR INSPIRED BY “THE WORD OF GOD,” WHEREAS, I, IRONICALLY, DO NOT BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS “THE WORD OF GOD.” I BELIEVE IT IS THE WORDS OF MEN.

IT IS, NONETHELESS, A POWERFUL TEXT WITH LAYERS OF MEANING THAT REACH DEEP INTO OUR COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS, OUR HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS, IF YOU WILL. IT SEEMS INDEED TO BE AN INSPIRED WORK, BUT I BELIEVE THAT ITS POWER DERIVES FROM ITS HAVING BEEN A COLLECTIVE ENDEAVOR THAT EVOLVED, AND CONDENSED OVER MANY GENERATIONS BEFORE REACHING ITS FINAL, FIXED FORM AS WE KNOW IT DURING THE “BABYLONIAN EXILE,” CIRCA 600 B.C.E.

…IF MY VISUAL, LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF THE BOOK OF GENESIS OFFENDS OR OUTRAGES SOME READERS, WHICH SEEMS INEVITABLE CONSIDERING THAT THE TEXT IS REVERED BY MANY PEOPLE, ALL I CAN SAY IN MY DEFENSE IS THAT I APPROACHED THIS AS A STRAIGHT ILLUSTRATION JOB, WITH NO INTENTION TO RIDICULE OR MAKE VISUAL JOKES. THAT SAID, I KNOW THAT YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYBODY."

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R. Crumb's Awesome, Affecting Take On Genesis,” by Susan Jane Gilman, NPR (October 16, 2009)