A Book Review on CHRIST AND CHRISTMAS

by MJSmith

A BOOK REVIEW ON CHRIST AND CHRISTMAS

(The most recent edition published by the Christian Science Publishing Society.)

     When I heard that there was a new edition of Christ and Christmas and that it was supposed to have spectacular images I was willing to pay the money they asked for (plus shipping).


     I am disappointed, however, in the quality of the detail in the illustrations.  The card that came with my book reads: “This large, clothbound gift edition showcases the artwork of Mary Baker Eddy’s illustrated poem in vivid detail.  Thanks to advances in photography and printing, the nuances of light and shadow, as well as the lines and shadings of the original artwork, are faithfully represented.  Both elegant and functional, this book beautifully captures the loveliness, precision, and meaning of this illustrated poem.”
     This may be true depending upon what original artwork they copied, but the artwork found in the earlier edition’s illustrations shows more detail than this book does.  (You can go on line and find copies of the earlier editions and see that this is true.)
     So, I think that the CSPS is slightly bragging about the book.  Do they not have any of the original art work used in the first editions in their archives?  If not, where did it go?  What happened to these valuable gems?
     Perhaps the answer lies in the medium that was used for the illustrations, as the same card reads: “Christ and Christmas was first published in 1893.  Then, as now, the poem was accompanied by eleven charcoal and wash watercolor drawings by James Gilman, who worked under Mrs. Eddy’s guidance and close supervision to portray the meaning of her text through the artwork.”  Perhaps, after all these years, this may explain why the images are not as crisp, especially if the charcoal images have been unintentionally smudged or smeared.
     STAR OF BETHLEHEM (#1) has very little detail to make out.  You cannot even make out the cloud closest to the Star of divine Science.  Just by looking at it you would never know that it is supposed to be the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus.
     The clock face’s hands for SEEKING AND FINDING (#3) and SUFFER THE CHILDREN (#7) are clear and you are able to tell the time on them.  THANK YOU!!!
     CHRISTMAS EVE (#4) is slightly smaller than the majority of square paged illustrations as it is supposed to be (do to what it represents).  It is the same size as STAR OF BETHLEHEM and slightly smaller than CHRISTIAN SCIENCE HEALING (#6).  In the older editions STAR OF BETHLEHEM and CHRISTMAS EVE were smaller than any of the other illustrations.  The detail in the tree is not as good as I have seen in other books.  The rungs on the wheelchair are much clearer and easier to count.
     TRUTH versus ERROR (#10) is much better than recent editions, as you can once more see the stars in the sky and the path (some say it is a river) on the left hand side of the illustration.  It is now possible to see the word TRUTH on the scroll, even though it is very light.
     THE WAY (#11) is very disappointing.  There seems to be little detail in the countryside.  However, some details are good, like with the crown, the dove, and the crowned-cross.
     Is it worth the high price they are asking for the book?  That is up to you.  As a collector’s edition it may be worth it to you, but if you are really wanting detail then I have to say it is not worth it.  I do not know what source was used to make this “gift edition” but I have to ask, “Could they not have found better sources for all eleven illustration?”  Maybe after all these years the answer is “No.”  However, if all the old artwork has been smudged (because of the medium used) then it is understandable that they may not have been able to find clear images from the original source material.  Then there is the question, if the detail we found in the earlier editions never existed in the original artwork (which I find most unlikely) then where did these special images come from (the things that I have seen in other editions)?  Is it God who is responsible for these images or just my imagination?  Where are the serpent swirls above the talking serpent in SEEKING AND FINDING and above the closed Bible in SUFFER THE CHILDREN?

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