Populist preacher Hiprah "Hell-fire" Hunt is obsessed with proving the existence of Hell, and Dante's Inferno is his constant companion. When the evangelist mysteriously disappears for six weeks, it's hardly surprising to hear that he's been to Hell and back. This comic graphic novel depicts his odyssey among the damned, where corrupt politicians, bores, frauds, and other sinners receive their just punishments.
American cartoonist and writer Arthur Henry "Art" Young (1866–1943) is best known for his socialist cartoons, particularly those drawn from 1911–17 for the left-wing political magazine The Masses. Young's lifelong enthusiasm for the works of Gustav Doré — particularly the French artist's interpretation of Dante's Inferno — inspired this humorous 1901 publication. Anyone with an interest in political cartoons, early cartoons, and socialist cartoons will be fascinated by this marvel of invention and craftsmanship and its unique reinterpretation of one of literature's great classics.
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About the Author
American cartoonist and writer Arthur Henry "Art" Young (1866–1943) is best known for his socialist cartoons, particularly those drawn from 1911 to 1917 for the left-wing political magazine The Masses.
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Through Hell with Hiprah Hunt
By Art Young
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2016 Art Young
All rights reserved.
In the beginning Mr. Hunt tells how he passed the day in a large city where he delivered his unique lecture on Dante, and spent the rest of his time sight-seeing and searching for literature on his favorite subject.
Tired and confused with the busy scenes and active incidents of the day, he is returning by night train to his home. As usual, when traveling, he reads his Divine Comedy. He has not read far when he is overcome by a sense of drowsiness. Sleepily, he reviews the events of the day in the bustling city while musing over the grew-some scenes in his book. What with the thoughts of high buildings, cable cars, of arch-heretics in their fiery tombs, slot machines, automobiles and gibbering ghosts, of swift-running elevators and headless spirits, of well-dressed gamblers and "Adam's evil brood" at large, his mind is truly in a chaotic state.CHAPTER 2
An irresistible impulse prompts him to walk to the rear platform of the car. A sudden lurch of the train as it turns round a curve in the track and he finds himself lying prone by the road side.
On either hand there stretches a boundless forest of the wildest desolation. Overhead a ghostly night wind ploughs through the tree tops and wails and sobs like a lost spirit. Amidst a whizzing of invisible bats and the hoots of melancholy owls, he struggles to his feet. Combing the gravel out of his long locks he sets forth in a southeasterly direction.CHAPTER 3
Through briars and bushes, over prickly plants and vines that are laced together like a tangled mass of serpents in the innermost recesses of deep chasms and black ravines, he stumbles toward the Unseen. When his emotions have abated he finds himself alone in the heart of a forest, where trees are so thickly crowded that the air is dense and hard to breathe.
Finally, he comes to a projecting precipice from which he peers and discerns a dim light through the sluggishly rising smoke. As he crawls lower he hears voices, and a great commotion. An odor of burning brimstone fills the air. He swings out from an overhanging rock and allows himself to drop.CHAPTER 4
Hiprah Hunt is at the American entrance to Hell. He stands amidst a throng of Demons, sinners and employees of the realm. Crowds of men are getting overcoats checked and buying fans. He buys one himself, and also secures a guide book, locating the different sections and departments. He sees over the portal's lofty arch the words "Leave all hope on the outside." This demand he will not entirely accede to. He retains a little, thinking he may need it later on.
Because Mr. Hunt shows no evidence of having died, the goblin custodian who watches the entrance will not allow him to pass. Mr. Hunt does not deny that he is alive, but explains that he is about the only prominent champion of future punishment living and deserves special consideration.
He further argues that inasmuch as Dante was admitted without question through the Italian entrance, he ought to be granted an equal privilege on the American side.
The goblin, after a lengthy telephone consultation, withdraws his objection, and Mr. Hunt proceeds.CHAPTER 5
On passing through the long entrance corridor Mr. Hunt hears a low mutter as of thunder, which grows louder as he advances.
A train load of souls comes screaming through the gloom. In the distance he sees the train cross a bridge and eventually come to a stop. The passengers step out and are driven to a place of registration. Here they write their names and addresses in a large book.CHAPTER 6
Coming out of the cavern, spoken of in the preceding Canto, the explorer crosses the distant bridge and enters another densely wooded region. Here he finds the souls of those who are not quite bad enough to be punished severely, but are allowed to exist "desiring without hope." He is approached by shrouded spirits who describe themselves as a school of poets, and instantly recalling how Dante in his peregrinations ran across Homer, he enquires for that worthy.
He learns that this is quite another group to that in which the ancient bard moves. These are the unworthies who spent their time on earth writing bad poetry when they would have been better engaged sawing wood or washing dishes.CHAPTER 7
In the same vicinity Mr. Hunt finds a soul chained to a rock, wearing a heavy sheet-iron dunce cap.
This is the man who was fond of playing jokes on others, but who was wont to become furious when the joke was on himself. The explorer asks him a few questions and passes on, leaving the captive strangely perplexed.CHAPTER 8
Mr. Hunt reaches the boundary of the forest and finds himself overlooking a vast arena in which as far down as he can see there reigns a scene of wild activity.
The picture on the opposite page was drawn from a crude and indistinct diagram made by Mr. Hunt. The artist does not vouch for the correctness of every detail in the drawing, having restored many signs and placards which in Mr. Hunt's original were almost obliterated.CHAPTER 9
The explorer now determines to find Satan. To avoid the difficulties that Dante met with, it is Mr. Hunt's purpose to get a permit to pass through the Empire from the Devil himself. Though Demons pursue him with persistency he succeeds in reaching a huge arched entrance in an immense purple rock. Over it is a blazing inscription reading: "Satan's office." Here Mr. Hunt pauses. For a moment he is afraid. He regains his courage, and, mounting an elaborate fire-escape, enters. "As a night-hawk cleaves a side flight in the sky," says the poet-explorer, "so the great arch-enemy of mankind wheeled round in his chair as I entered."
Hiprah Hunt finds himself in great danger of being cast into Hell-fire before he can make known the object of his presence. When he explains that he has been a lifelong expounder of the future punishment theory, that his purpose is to explore the region and go back to earth with the proof of his belief, Satan shows great courtesy. He immediately telephones to the heads of the departments in his realm to assemble at Plutoblitzz, the Central Station of the region, and to receive Mr. Hunt with a great ovation.CHAPTER 10
In this Canto the explorer describes his arrival at the Central Station, accompanied by Satan.
He is met by a vast crowd of the Demon population and a reception committee of distinguished citizens.
After the formality of the reception he is beseiged by delegations from labor unions, secret societies, members of the Fire Department and Golf clubs, autograph fiends, insurance agents, and representatives of the three official newspapers "The Daily Groan," "Hot Times" and "The Yelp."
After the bands have ceased playing and the tumult subsides Satan announces that Mr. Hunt will make a speech.
THE SPEECH OF HIPRAH HUNT.
(From an extra edition of the Daily Groan.)
"Your Majesty, Demons, Fiends and Imps: "I thank you for this ovation. This, the Hell of my forefathers, with such improvements as you have made, is good enough for me.
"So long as man waxes fat in folly and vice on earth without a worried conscience, the world will need this region and must throttle the voice of the so-called 'wise-man' who says it's a myth. (Flapping of wings and roar of thunder.)
"I stand here on ground trod by the immortal Dante (loud cheers for Dante and flash of green fire), that great Italian who blazed the way for my own coming. To carry on the work of this great man is no easy task; but with the permission of your most Imperial High Ruler and yourselves, I hope to get about and see a few things that will startle millions of people who have ceased to be frightened at the thought of eternal damnation. (Loud reports of bursting thermometers.)
"Doesn't it serve men right who think they can go through life cheating, cursing, liquor-drinking, lying and raising Cain generally to find in the end that it's time to pay up. (A thousand voices: Sure! Give it to 'em; Hunt's all right.) On all the winds of the upper world are borne the croaking of the crows of modern thought. But depend upon it, one voice, the voice of Hiprah Hunt, shall always be raised against them in defence of this great Infernal Empire.
"Again I thank you all, particularly the musicians, for this tribute of esteem."
(Part of the band then strike up the "magic-fire scene," from "Die Walküre," while the rest play "He's a jolly good fellow" in rag time. The crowd cheers lustily and the affair ends with a magnificent display of fireworks.)
A facsimile of Mr Hunts Passport, — Translated reads : "Pass Hiprah Hunt, a warm advocate of the cause."
Old nick.CHAPTER 11
Mr. Hunt courteously declines the aid of guides whose services are offered by Satan preferring, as he explains, to go unattended, and makes his way to what is known as the first district of Hell.
Here he sees old Charon the pilot, who started his career as the Styx ferryman with a boat hardly large enough to hold two college professors, but who now runs a large double-decked steamer fitted out with modern improvements and accommodating eight hundred souls.CHAPTER 12
Mr. Hunt sees Charon's boat take on a load of passengers. He watches it pull out from the pier and cross the river. An orchestra, consisting of a bass horn and an accordion, supplies the torture on the run from shore to shore. Wearing nothing but a mackintosh and gaiters the Captain stands on the roof of the pilot house grimly scanning the black waves.CHAPTER 13
Coming into the second district Mr. Hunt is debating which way he shall proceed, when he hears a scuffling on the heated asphalt road behind him. He turns and sees passing a drove of human-footed sheep, led by a monkey, whose contortions they are compelled to imitate. Mr. Hunt consults his guide book and learns that these are the people who did things because others did them, never taking the trouble to think for themselves.CHAPTER 14
The explorer has not journeyed far in the first department of the second district when he beholds Minos, the Infernal Judge.
Up the terraced enclosure, arranged directly in front of the Judge, in rows of hundreds and extending as far as the eye can reach, Mr. Hunt sees the sinners awaiting their turn to be sentenced.
When the ill-fated soul stands before this Supreme Court he confesses everything.
An Irish policeman leads a trembling sinner to trial.
"Well, what have you to say?" asks the Judge in a loud voice.
"Your Honor, I confess that I have always been somewhat obstinate."
"Yes; I know you," answers the Judge, "you are one of these pig-headed fellows — you never admit it even if you know you are wrong. Officer, remove him to the stubborn district."CHAPTER 15
Taking his way down the rugged slope Mr. Hunt comes to the hot region where people who took no pride in their work are punished.
Here he finds the tailors who made ill-fitting clothes steaming and fuming, attired in their own misfits.
In different sections of the same department he sees engravers, carpenters, artists and various other offenders of the same class.
This discovery may serve as a warning to all those on earth who, thinking rather of the money they will gain by it than of its quality, hurry and slight their work.CHAPTER 16
Next, by permission, he goes along the edge of a void, and, turning to the right, comes to the district where street-corner mashers are punished.
"Under huge flat rocks they feebly flounder, while their despondent murmurs fill the haunted air."CHAPTER 17
Consulting his map Mr. Hunt chooses a road that leads down to the gulf where slow people learn a lesson in activity.
His guide book explains who a few of the slow people are.
The merchant who readily agrees to deliver goods at a specified time and invariably fails to do so.
The person who blocks a line of people at a railway ticket office while asking needless questions.
The business man who spends three hours at lunch knowing that his partner cannot leave the office until he returns.
The explorer inspects the machinery that is devised for the punishment of these individuals and then journeys on his way.CHAPTER 18
Passing through a gloomy ravine, Mr. Hunt's curiosity is aroused by a sound of fiendish revelry.
Following the direction of the noise he comes into that region which, according to his guide book, is occupied by the "fools of success."
Here he finds the man who climbed up in the world and then forgot his friends.
"As a cat clings to a tree trunk," says the poet, "while dogs dance 'round with laughing tongues," so this malefactor hangs high up a spike-covered pole, while "fiends make merry at his sorry plight."
Keeping well out of view the explorer continues his travels.CHAPTER 19
While cautiously proceeding down a smoke-swept region of the third section, Mr. Hunt sees the Limitless Express of the Grand Bump Railroad shrieking and rocking on its way to the bottomless pit.CHAPTER 20
Mr. Hunt crosses an aqueduct and finds himself in a district where people are tormented who have defrauded or abused others by the use of hypnotic power. It appears that the Demons have the power of hypnotism themselves and treat their victims as the latter treated others while on earth.CHAPTER 21
The poet relates the punishment of such as were too suspicious.
Here he finds the man who suspects that everybody is trying to cheat him, and also the man who thinks that every philanthropist has pecuniary reasons for his good deeds.
These and many others are turned into a rocky region to be chased and tormented by strange animals called Bunklefrights and Snoopflaps. These animals have large, piercing eyes, and sharp-pointed tails and toe nails with which they prick their victims, laughing the while with a peculiar sound that reminds Mr. Hunt of a violent bronchial cough.CHAPTER 22
Mr. Hunt takes his way down a long declivity up which the blinding steam hurries "as a blizzard sweeps up a prairie slope." Here he looks out over the vast territory where the professional tramps are made miserable. They are compelled to submit to everlasting baths in vats of boiling water.CHAPTER 23
Remounting by the same path which led to the department spoken of in the preceding Canto, the explorer now passes over into the sixth section.
His guide book tells him that here the bores are punished.
He takes note of the penalty that follows the man who continually talks about himself, and others of the bore species; then, showing his passport, he steps into a descending elevator, with instructions to be put off at the next station.CHAPTER 24
Alighting from the elevator Mr. Hunt makes his way to the district where he sees the conscience-thumping machines at work, an illustration of which is in his guide book.
A manufacturer who has taken the invention of a poor man and made a fortune out of it, without compensating the inventor, is found bound to the platform of one of these machines underneath a trip-hammer that plays an eternal tattoo on his sinful old head.CHAPTER 25
Still in the same department he sees many more souls who walked over the rights of others in an excess of sordid ambition.
High up over a narrow rushing river, his body stretched and fastened from bank to bank, he finds one of these culprits serving as a footbridge over which the Demons walk.
This department also contains the obnoxious photographers, who, ignoring all rights of privacy, practiced "snap-shooting" on whomsoever they pleased.CHAPTER 26
ON a shelf of the rugged slope our explorer now sees a malefactor whose fate after all seems hardly adequate to his fault. He is the man who eats in defiance of all laws of decency. The days when he spaded pie into his mouth or drew soup through his mustache with a sound like a leaking hydrant, are now but a hideous memory.
Excerpted from Through Hell with Hiprah Hunt by Art Young. Copyright © 2016 Art Young. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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