Thursday, June 18, 2009

Norman Lindsay

To me, Norman Lindsay is like Vegemite.

I feel obligated to try and read The Magic Pudding.

I feel obligated to love The Magic Pudding. Like Vegemite, it seems to be some kind of Australian requirement.

I have this feeling I'm not going to like The Magic Pudding. It's on my bookshelf. I felt obligated to buy it. I feel obligated to read it. But it doesn't look like my kind of thing. It looks like Alice in and Wonderland to me. I love the story of Alice in Wonderland. I like the Disney version. I like all the Alice allusions splattered in popular culture. But I didn't like the actual book. It's not my kind of writing.

Maybe I'd be better off seeing The Magic Pudding movie, or reading a cute synopsis of the story.

I don't know much about Norman Lindsay, except I heard he was anti-semitic. Since I'm Jewish, that's not exactly a piece of information that's going to endear me to the man. Well, no it's not because I'm Jewish. If he was anti-gay, anti-aboriginal, or anti-Asian; I'd have the same lack of love.

Artists from the past though have their bigotry. Sometimes we can excuse it. It's what everyone believed in those days! Hell, Walt Disney was a Nazi Sympathizer and my family now belongs to the Disney vacation club. My sister's family goes on Disney cruises almost every year. We don't like anti-antisemitism, but we can overlook it sometimes.

Well, let's begin.

Lord Wiki says baby Norman was born on 22 February 1879. That's my sister's birthday. The funny thing is Lindsay died the day before my birthday. It would be really weird if he died ON my birthday.

Birthday website time.

He's a Pisces like my sister....obviously.  And my niece has that sign too.

The birthday website lists Lindsay as being a 4; but I need to do my own calculations to see if he might be a 22.

Nope.  Norman Lindsay a 1+3=4.

He's not a 22.

Baby Norman's dad was a surgeon.  Norman had nine siblings. Lord Wiki has made some of those siblings into links which gives me the idea that they might be famous too.

There's Percy Lindsay. He was a painter and cartoonist like Norman.

There's Lionel; another artist.

Ruby and Daryl were artists too.

They're like The Jackson Five, but instead of music and moonwalking, they make pictures.

Lindsay was born in Creswick Victoria. Creswick is about twenty minutes north of Ballarat.

I really love looking at maps.

Lindsay married a woman named Kate. They had three kids together: Jack, Raymond, and Phillip. Then Kate and Norman got a divorce. Their sons were teenagers when it happened. I'm sure that was hard for them. I wonder how rare divorce was in those days. I can imagine it was quite a stigma in those days; having divorced parents. I could be wrong though.

I tried to find some statistics online, but I could only find American stuff.

This page has some information about Australia, but their chart starts in 1938.

One thing is prior to 1975, couples had to prove that their were grounds for divorce. So I'm sure getting divorced in 1918 was even more of a headache than it is today.

It seems in the story of Norman and Kate, another woman was involved. Her name was Rose.

She started modeling for Lindsay, when Jack was about three and Raymond was about a year old.

Lindsay went to London in 1909. Rose came with him. I wonder if Kate knew about this. Did she already realize she had been replaced?  Or was she ignorant of it all?

In 1920, Lindsay married his second wife. He had two daughters with her.

Now Lord Wiki goes more into his professional life.

There's a Norman Lindsay gallery at one of his former homes. That's in Faulconbridge, New South Wales. I don't think I've heard of that town before. Oh! It's in the Blue Mountains. I've been there. I guess I missed Faulconbridge. But you know what....I just had a vague memory of someone suggesting in my comments that I go visit the museum.

Lord Wiki says the town has streets named after characters in The Magic Pudding. He also says the name of the town uses half the alphabet. That's pretty cool. Lord Wiki has interesting trivia sometimes.

Here's something bad, and I'm hiding my head in American shame. Wife #2 took some of Lindsay's nude artwork to America. She wanted to protect them from the war. The paintings were discovered, labeled as pornography, and burned. Lovely.

Lindsay was a hard worker and very prolific. He would work on multiple projects during the day.

Lindsay worked for the magazine that Donald Horne changed...The Bulletin. Lindsay was there way before Horne. His years were 1901-1951. When did Horne come onboard?

Okay. Found the answer.  It was ten years later.

Lord Wiki says in Lindsay's day the magazine was racist, attacking Jews, Chinese, Indians, Japanese, and indigenous Australians. It's a bit disheartening because other well-loved Australians were on board as well, including Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson. Those are on my list so I'll learn more about those guys later.

The Magic Pudding was published in 1918, the same year Lindsay got divorced. What a year that must have been.

Lindsay did editorial cartoons.  Many of them were anti-communist and anti-Asian.

Lindsay wrote a novel called Age of Consent. It was later turned into a movie. Helen Mirren was in it.

Another movie related to Lindsay is Sirens starring Sam Neil. It's biographical. Neil plays Lindsay. I'm not sure how fictionalized it is though.

The movie was filmed at Lindsay's home.  I'm guessing the one in The Blue Mountains.

That's about it from Lord Wiki.

I guess I shall go look elsewhere now.

Here's his museum/gallery website.

Interesting. He hated Christianity. It seems his bigotry doesn't really discriminate much.

This page has a lot of the same stuff Lord Wiki has. I'm wondering who copied who here......

Lindsay had a novel that was censored. Redheap. I wonder why it was censored.

I googled redheap lindsay and got pages about Lindsay Lohan.

Below that there are websites about the book. This site says it was banned not because it was particularly scandalous, but because it was believed characters in the book were based on influential people. The book was banned from 1930-1950.

Before they were Australians, the Lindsay family was Irish. Before that, they did the Scottish thing.

It was Lindsay's mother who introduced him to art. She would take Lindsay to an art museum in Ballarat. It seems one piece of art that had a lot of influence on him was Ajax and Cassandra by Solomon J. Solomon.

Interesting. Solomon was Jewish. I could pretty much guess that by the name, but I checked just to make sure.

It was with Rose that Lindsay moved to the Blue Mountains. He lived there from 1912 until his death in 1969. That's fifty-seven years. Wow. The longest I've lived in a house is five years.

Have any of you lived in the same house for a very long time?

One of his hobbies was making ship models.

I'm looking at his art now. I have to say....I do like it. It's my kind of thing.

This page talks about The Magic Pudding. It says the idea for the book came from a debate. Someone said children prefer to read about fairies. Lindsay said no. They prefer to read about food.

It's interesting. The website doesn't seem to mention anything about his least from what I've seen. It kind of glosses over all that.

On this website you can download The Magic Pudding for free.

And here's another Lindsay website. I wonder if this one will also gloss over the negative stuff.

Their biography page also sounds like it comes directly from Lord Wiki. It looks like some websites just copy and paste stuff.  Or maybe I'm just imagining that.

They do have a secondary biography page and it's much more original. The webmaster reminds me of myself. He injects his own information into the page. For example, he says he has nine siblings like Lindsay did.

There was some controversy surrounding a drawing called "The Crucified Venus". It features a naked woman on a cross. The picture was removed from a Melbourne art show. The president of The Society of Artists threatened to remove ALL Lindsay's pictures if the Venus one was not reinstated.

Lindsay's son started his own publishing company called Fanfrolico Press. The company published Lindsays' books.

This page alludes to marriage problems between Rose and Lindsay. I wonder what happened there.

Lindsay was into cats. This page has some pictures of his cat stuff. Apparently at one time, he had thirty-five cats. Wow.

This page has a lot of his drawings....a lot of naked women. They have very healthy shaped bodies; nothing that would likely trigger eating disorders. Most of them seem to be about my size.

This page has some oil paintings.

Here's a painting of Rita, Lindsay's other favorite model besides his wife Rose. I wonder if anything erotic occurred there as well.

This page seems to say that Lindsay was fired from the Bulletin because of his racist views. Or maybe he wasn't racist enough? I'm actually not sure.

This page
has photos of Lindsay and his family.

All right. I think I'm done with that page. And it seems they glossed over a lot of the controversial stuff as well.

Here's another biography site. Maybe they say something different than the others. No, this is the same info I found from the last site....I mean word for word.

What's the deal here?

It's like people on the Internet simply cut and paste. And they don't give credit to the original author. So I have no idea who wrote what.

This New York book website confirms my idea that The Magic Pudding is like Alice in Wonderland. BUT it also says that it's like The Stinky Cheese Man. I LIKE The Stinky Cheese Man. That's a cute story. Maybe I'll like The Magic Pudding after all.

I'm going to read the Australian Dictionary of Biography because from my quick glance it looks at least original. It doesn't look like they cut and paste information from another website.

Lindsay's father came to Melbourne in 1864. He was a medical officer on a ship called Red Rose. See, now THAT is interesting to me.

Little Norman and his siblings attended Creswick Grammar School. I'm guessing that school is gone because when I googled it, I get stuff about its history. I'm not finding anything current.

The website says it was his grandfather and not his mother that brought him to the art museum in Ballarat. Maybe it was both?

I'm getting confused. Lord Wiki says Lindsay got married in 1900 to Kate. This website says he got married in 1907 to Jessie.

What is going on here?

Oh no. Wait. They're not talking about Norman Lindsay. They're talking about Percival Lindsay. Oops. My bad.

Lindsay (the Norman one) had a blood disease that gave him rashes. Because of this, his mother kept him inside a lot. He used his time practicing drawing.

Lindsay was heavily influenced by a book he read....Nietzche's The Antichrist and Contra Wagner. Nietzche was atheist, right? Lord Wiki says this book is pretty much Nietzche explaining why he's disgusted with Wagner. Nietzche's work helped Lindsay resent both Christianity and his mother. I think he felt restrained from the latter, perhaps the former as well.

This website does talk about Lindsay's prejudices. It says, More than any other artist, he gave visual definition to the Bulletin's editorial policy, particularly its nationalism and racism—Aborigines invariably figured as comics, Jews as old-clothes dealers with hooked noses.

The website also goes into the marriage break-up. I get the soap opera stuff.

It seems as his career blossomed, the marriage fell apart. Lindsay met Rose when she was sixteen. I wonder how old Katie was at the time. It can be hard to compete with youth when it comes to a man's affections.

The relationship between Rose and Norman remained professional until Katie traveled to Melbourne. She was pregnant with their second child, and wanted to be near their family. I wonder what percentage of adultery occurs when the wife is pregnant.

Katie and Norman remained married though a few more years. I'm still not sure if she was aware of the affair. I'm guessing she was at least somewhat suspicious. Her husband painted nude models. I think you'd have to be very naive not to at least wonder.....

Norman spent some time in London and ended up getting sick. He had something called pleurisy. WebMD says it's inflammation of the lungs. There was worry he might have tuberculosis. I think that's why they ended up getting the home in The Blue Mountains. It seems they needed a place for him to rest.

Eventually, he began to feel better.

Oh, this website is GOOD. It has the juicy stuff.

At some point, Lindsay's brother died. Norman received his brother's blood soaked notebook. This experience led Lindsay to turn to Spiritualism. They got themselves a Ouija Board. Lindsay believed he communicated not only with his brother but Shakespeare and Apollo as well. This new found spirituality caused problems in his relationship with his brother Lionel.

I'm wondering about the religious stuff here. I assumed from his love of Nietzsche that he was Atheist. Did he go from being Atheist to spiritual? And if so, did he ever return to Atheism? Or maybe he was never Atheist in the first place. I'm not Atheist, but I enjoy the work and philosophies of some Atheists. For example, I have high regards for Peter Singer. Although we have different spiritual philosophies, our ethics still come together at many points.

Rose almost died in pregnancy. The baby was stillborn. It seems while all this happened, Lindsay was still married to Katie. He eventually got divorced although Katie was reluctant. I wonder if she still loved her husband, or if she just believed in trying to work things out.

The website says that Lindsay saw Jews, Asians, and Africans as being lesser breeds. It disturbs me that one of Australia's most beloved children's books is written by someone like that. But that happens sometimes. I read on this Native American's blog that the guy who wrote the Wizard of Oz was anti-Native American.

Redheap the banned book was available in the United States as Every Mother's Son. It seems Lindsay was angry about his book being censored in Australia, so he came to the United States for awhile.

Lindsay went through a period of depression. He moved to as studio in Sydney to try to help himself. I guess a change of scenery sometimes does the trick.

I'm done with that website.

I'm not sure where I want to go next.

I guess I'd like to know more about his religious/spiritual beliefs.

I googled Norman Lindsay Ouija board, figuring that might get me something.

I guess this website mentions it. They describe Lindsay as being Neopagan. I think I've gotten Neopagan as a result when I took that quiz. While I'm here, maybe I'll take the test again.

Ah! I got Neopagan again! 100%

I'm 95% New Age.
I'm 75% Scientology.
I'm 66 Secular Humanist.
I'm 65% Reform Judaism.

The religion I'm least like is Jehovah's Witness.

I love these quizzes.

I want to take more!

Let's see. How greedy am I?

My score is 11. My generosity outweighs my greed. But the website tries to prevent me from getting a swelled head. They warn me I might have OTHER sins. Yikes.

I might be a glutton. Let's see.

Ah, I'm too not bad there. Although my results could be a bit off. There was a cell phone question I didn't know the answer to. How many free minutes do I have? I have no idea. I RARELY use my cell phone in America. Anyway, my score was 16, but I'm still in the second to best group.

For envy, I got a score of 10 out of 24. I think that's a bit off. I'm a VERY envious person. I would give me a score of at least 20.

I'm not much of a sloth. I got a score of 10 out of 25.

I scored too low on pride. I got a 6 out of 24. They say I might need to work on my self-esteem.

Am I too lustful? Probably.

Well, sort of. It's 11 out of 24. That's not too bad.

I think I AM wrathful. At least I love that line from Fallen. Beware my wrath. That's one of my favorite movie lines. It's such a scary movie though. That movie and The Ring are the films that scare me the most.

I'm starting to lose faith in these quizzes. This one gives me a score of 5 out of 27. Although they do say You're either a very patient person....or about to blow like Mt. St. Helens. It's probably the latter.

Enough of the sins. Which Harry Potter character am I?

I'm Hagrid or Ron. That's cool. I can live with that. I was hoping for a more starring role. I'm not too pleased with the whole sidekick thing. See, that proves the other quiz was wrong about my pride.

Which Lost character am I?

I'm Hurley! That's awesome!! I love Hurley.

I better stop now. I'm having way too much fun, but I need to get back to this article on Lindsay.

I don't know....

I don't like Lindsay because of his racist views.

But I do like his spiritual/religious views. I think it's cool that he was a pagan. I think it's nice he embraced sexuality.

Oh well. Honestly....I've had enough of Lindsay for today. I want to take more quizzes. I'm sure most of you don't care about my results. Too bad. I'm sharing them anyway.

Rudeness: 35 out of 50 (So I AM pretty rude)

Sixth Sense-2 out of 10 (not very impressive, huh?)

Past life-6 out of 16

My parenting discipline style is moderate--not too permissive and not too tough. That's a relief!

Hermit-52 out of 90.

Gossip- 12 out of 30

Narcissist-40 out of 120 (that's such a hard word to spell) It's probably not an accurate result seeing that I stopped writing about a famous person in order to take quizzes about ME.

Hopeful 32 out of 80. I guess that means I see the glass half empty for the most part.

-12 out of 30. I guess that's fairly moderate.

forgiving 45 out of 60....which puts me in the VERY forgiving category. Kind of shocking. I have a reputation for being unforgiving. I guess though my thing is this: I forgive the person, but not the act. I'll hold grudges FOREVER against something someone has done. But I'll still love the person. Does that make sense? I do usually forgive what people have done if there's been a sincere heartfelt apology. If the apology is forced or seems to come out of obligation, I still hold the grudge.

Jack just made his own quiz for me. I'm 54% of an underwater person. I guess that means I'm not quite a mermaid, but I might enjoy snorkeling now and then.

Well, that was very fun. If anyone else wants to waste their time taking the quizzes, I'd love to hear your results.

Anyway, I apologize to Norman Lindsay for using his post to talk more about myself than him. But what can I say. I'm Jewish so he probably wouldn't love me much anyway.


  1. Oh Dina...your posts are such a scream...informative AND funny! I have to tell you that as far as the magic pudding goes, it was read to me many times as a child but the thing I remember about it most was the pictures. The pudding and its skinny little legs is burned into my memory.

  2. Donna,

    Thank you : )

    I've seen a little bit of the pudding pictures. They're pretty cute!

  3. Hey Dina - nothing stirs the heart of a Ballarat man more than to read 'Lindsay is as Australian as Vegemite'! (What, owned by an American company who are going to change the recipe? :)) A small factoid for you: his novel Redheap was censored because of his GRANDMA who thought it said not very nice things about the people of Creswick and reported him to authorities, demanding it be banned! If you get to Ballarat one day come and see the Ballarat Art Gallery - it has the Lindsay family drawing room recreated with the orignial furniture, and you can see the giant work of art which inspired Norman's 'fleshier' works of art!

  4. Anonymous,

    I'm sure you also know the sad story of Tim Tams. I strongly believe a rich and powerful Australian should buy these icons back.

    At least we know America can't buy Norman Lindsay. Or can he? We might one day see a Disney version of The Magic Pudding.

    Is it true about them changing the Vegemite recipe? I saw the headline briefly but didn't take time to read it. If it's true, I'm betting it's a publicity stunt. Coke did that in the 1980's. They brought out NEW Coke. Everyone hated it, of course. And that way they could call the original "classical" Coke. Or maybe it's just Classic Coke. I forget.

    I bet by the time I return to Australia, I'll see "Classic Vegemite" on the shelves.

    Interesting about Lindsay's grandma--talk about supportive family members. Do you know anything about their relationship? Did he forgive her?

    I do think I'm going to go to Ballarat. One of my best friends lives there. Maybe I'll drag her to the museum. We can have a Norman Lindsay day. And by that time, I shall have probably finally read The Magic Pudding.

  5. Hi Dina,
    I didn't know Norman Lindsay was such a racist and i think the Bulletin is no longer with us so that a good thing. I do remember seeing one cartoon from the bulletin called the Mongolian Octopus in a history class once. Here’s a web page showing it and I think it shows what the Bulletin was like
    I was bored at work so decided to do some of the quizzes. (See told you i had a great job)
    Apparently in the religious stakes im
    100% Liberal Quakers
    98% Unitarian Universalism
    95% Secular Humanism
    95% Neopagan
    and the least is
    9% Roman Catholic
    8% Johovah's Witness
    I think i would identify more with the Secular Humanism and the funniest thing is i grew up a Roman Catholic and thats one of my least.
    I'm Hermione in Harry Potter, which i already new before doing the quiz and im 8 /10 in Sixth Sense.
    Im not so sure about the results for the seven deadly sins but here they are
    Greed 9, Glutton 4, Envy 4, Sloth 3, Pride 3, Lust 6, Wrath 4.

  6. 38 on rudeness.... we are only rude when we are pushed we are not pushovers!

    fun are a hoot when dealing with bigots and racists and adulterers!

  7. That was me who mentioned the Norman Lindsay Gallery as somewhere to visit :-)

    I adore The Magic Pudding, and Lindsay's cat pictures. I'm not so much interested in his other work though I can appreciate the talent. One of my most satisfying parenting moments was reading The Magic Pudding aloud to the kids and them refusing to let me stop at the end of the First Slice because they were loving it. (It has slices rather than chapters, cute hey?)

    I get 100% Secular Humanism - no surprises there for this atheist and skeptic.

    Greed - 8
    Gluttony - 7
    Sloth - 7
    Pride - 13
    Lust - I can't even answer the questions on this one, where are the none of the above options?
    Wrathful - 7
    Ok, those quizzes were just weird, I reckon they say a lot more about how the quiz author views humanity than they say about me.

  8. Kathleen: Wow you are even ruder than me!!!! You know because I think those three points make a huge difference.

    I don't have much tolerance for bigotry and racism.

    Adultery I have my sympathy for. It's that whole forbidden love thing. There can be a horrible side to it. And there can be a romantic side to it. It's complicated.

    I also believe adultery is overrated as the worst thing that can happen in a marriage. But that's just my opinion--the opinion of a rude person ; )

    Speaking of rudeness....

    I think even when we were pushed, you and I were pretty damn polite. I mean considering the circumstances.

    Matt: You have VERY low scores. You must be a saint--or a very old soul.
    And a psychic Hermione. Wow. That's awesome. I probably like you even more now.

    Mim: I think you're right about the quizzes and the quiz author. I'm not sure how valid they are--probably not much at all.

    I do think the what-religion-are-you test works pretty well though.

    I'm impressed you remembered recommending the gallery to me!

    That's great that your kids like the book and its slices. Jack finally got into books around last summer. I was so excited. It was so wonderful to hear him asking me to read another chapter....or to see him sitting on the couch reading to himself. That sadly hasn't happened for a while But he did express interest recently in getting back into it. I was so happy to hear that!

  9. Im definatly not a saint, thats why im inclined to believe the results are wrong.

  10. Matt,

    How about your CLOSE to being a saint.

    But yeah. I don't think those tests are very accurate. They don't ask enough questions.