The first of this series of treasures from the library and archives at Conway Hall is an anticlerical book by a French author under the pseudonym of Léo Taxil (Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès) (1854-1907).
He had spent his younger years in a Jesuit seminary which led to his anti-Catholic stance and the idea of religious ideology being harmful to society. He wrote a series of anti-Catholic tracts and books, La Bible Amusante (The Humorous Bible) being one of them.
Written in French, the book is based Taxil’s perceptions of inconsistencies and errors in the Old Testament. The 401 amusing and often anachronistic images were designed by ‘Frid’rick’ and show satirical depictions of Biblical stories. It was published by Libraire Anti-Clérical.
Our edition has been annotated in pencil, which are sometimes incorrect translations of the original French; however, they add to the character of the book in that someone took the time and effort to mark every single page.
This book was chosen largely due to the humorous nature of the illustrations and how they grab the attention of the viewer. They are simple in design and easily comprehended, but it is their satirical wit against established biblical teachings that makes it a hidden gem in our collection.
Another delight of the book is the unusual backing of the spine. It is not certain whether this was part of the book’s original make up underneath the spine, or was used in a later ad-hoc repair job. Either way, it shows a fascinating glimpse into 19th century newspaper advertising.