Prelude to a Million Years (1933)

PreludePrelude to a Million Years begs summarization. Lynd Ward’s illustrations are in wood cut, Prelude is with dialogue. While Ward does do a number of little narrative things–the biggest being his protagonist seeing himself as a latter day Adam–there’s a conflict with the static woodcut images and the idea of forward progression. Especially since Ward will downplay his narrative for the more political, topic visual elements.

Ward deals with issues like the unemployment, civil unrest, urban anonymity, but he also pushes hard with the narrative. It’s easy to follow (after the Adam stuff). Prelude is a journey piece, even though it’s eventually circular, and Ward gets a lot of extra into the protagonist’a pit stops.

Prelude does not take long to read as a narrative; the woodcuts themselves invite further examination. It’s a successful piece, thanks to the art. Without it, Ward’s narrative would have been too trite.


Writer and artist, Lynd Ward; publisher, Equinox.

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