A NEW ENGLAND VILLAGE by Eva Deutsch Costabel


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The old New England of greeting cards and historic reconstructions--depicted in flat, patterned, quasi-primitive line drawings and described no less flatly and stiffly. We have of course candlemaking and quilting, the gristmill, the blacksmith, the tinsmith, the printing office (this is c. 1830), the potter. The stylized pictures, however, don't show how anything was actually done (hands don't even hold needles), or often how things actually were (the garden, the farm). The text demonstrates no ability to make information interesting, meaningful, or even intelligible. (""Most shapes were formed by the potter on his wheel, then baked in the kiln, which was heated to high temperatures. Decorations and glaze, to make the surface less porous, were usually made from powdered lead sifted over the surface before firing. Later people complained of the lead, which could cause poisoning, and the stoneware process, begun in Germany, became more popular."") There are many better sources for New England life and lore. Most out-of-kilter, though, is Costabel's dedication of the book to her father, ""who perished in a Treblinka gas chamber"" (""tie fought and died for the dignity of man and for freedom against barbarism,"" and so on), and her introductory reference to ""learning more about how our ancestors in America lived and worked."" Amateruish and easily dispensable.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1983
Publisher: Atheneum