Additional Book Information
Series: Notting Hill Editions
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
From Notting Hill Editions
Edited and with an introduction by Kenneth Gross
This unusual literary collection contains essays and reflections that explore the seriousness of play and the mysteries of inanimate life—“the unknown spaces, dust, lost objects, and small animals that fill any house”—which have provoked many writers to take the side of these dead or nonhuman things, resulting in some of the most profound passages in literature.
Edited and with an introduction by Kenneth Gross, On Dolls includes Charles Baudelaire’s “The Philosophy of Toys,” Walter Benjamin’s “Old Toys: The Toy Exhibition at the Märkisches Museum,” Elizabeth Bishop’s “Cirque d’Hiver,” Sigmund Freud’s “The Uncanny,” Franz Kafka’s “The Cares of a Family Man,” Heinrich von Kleist’s “On the Marionette Theatre,” Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Dolls: On the Wax Dolls of Lotte Pritzel,” Bruno Schulz’s “Tailors’ Dummies,” Dennis Silk’s “The Marionette Theatre,” and Marina Warner’s “On the Threshold: Sleeping Beauties.”
Gross brings together in one beautiful volume key texts about the uncanny world of inanimate beings…[Heinrich Von Kleist’s] ‘On Marionette Theatre' makes the unsettling case that the marionettes’ experience is superior to man’s bondage in living flesh.
—The Guardian, Sjón, "From Frankenstein to Pinocchio: top 10 artificial humans in fiction"
The eleven gems assembled cast light on thoughts that startle and soothe. What does it mean to play along? And what else would it be good to consider about our playmates of choice? A visit to a dollhouse is probably best kept brief, but once you’ve begun wandering your way through this collection it’s hard to leave off wondering...
[There is] a masterly 1810 essay on marionette theatre by Heinrich von Kleist—a great German writer little regarded in the English-speaking world—which in the space of half a dozen pages expresses as much about the nature of art, consciousness and human freedom as all of Goethe’s and Schiller’s philosophical musings taken together. Yes, it is that good. And it can be found, along with a number of other pieces on the same theme, in a handsome and delightful little volume from Notting Hill Editions, On Dolls.
—John Banville, The Guardian
[A] thoughtful and stimulating enquiry into mankind's relationship with simulchra.
Kenneth Gross’s On Dolls is a fascinating and intermittently creepy compilation of writings on dolls, puppets and other lifelike toys. Here is Baudelaire, in "The Philosophy of Toys" (1853), contemplating the infant urge to destroy the most treasured plaything: "Finally he prises it open, for he is the stronger party. But where is its soul? This moment marks the beginning of stupor and melancholy."
—Brian Dillon, The Irish Times