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Destiny: A Novel in Pictures

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In an arresting series of images, the story of a young woman's tragic, often violent, life unfolds. Follow her as she lives out her destiny through seventeen chapters, including Childhood, The Father, The Mother, Service, Love, Vengeance, The Seducer, and The Crime. Each visual dimension of her world is a riveting discovery. In the style of genre masters Frans Masereel and In an arresting series of images, the story of a young woman's tragic, often violent, life unfolds. Follow her as she lives out her destiny through seventeen chapters, including Childhood, The Father, The Mother, Service, Love, Vengeance, The Seducer, and The Crime. Each visual dimension of her world is a riveting discovery. In the style of genre masters Frans Masereel and Lynd Ward, Nückel's graphic novel pulses with movement and a vivid unspoken life. No words are needed to accompany the 188 stark black-and-white illustrations: the pictures speak for themselves. This stunning pictorial narrative, open to endless interpretation, is charged with a page-turning power by each memorable and hypnotic drawing.


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In an arresting series of images, the story of a young woman's tragic, often violent, life unfolds. Follow her as she lives out her destiny through seventeen chapters, including Childhood, The Father, The Mother, Service, Love, Vengeance, The Seducer, and The Crime. Each visual dimension of her world is a riveting discovery. In the style of genre masters Frans Masereel and In an arresting series of images, the story of a young woman's tragic, often violent, life unfolds. Follow her as she lives out her destiny through seventeen chapters, including Childhood, The Father, The Mother, Service, Love, Vengeance, The Seducer, and The Crime. Each visual dimension of her world is a riveting discovery. In the style of genre masters Frans Masereel and Lynd Ward, Nückel's graphic novel pulses with movement and a vivid unspoken life. No words are needed to accompany the 188 stark black-and-white illustrations: the pictures speak for themselves. This stunning pictorial narrative, open to endless interpretation, is charged with a page-turning power by each memorable and hypnotic drawing.

30 review for Destiny: A Novel in Pictures

  1. 4 out of 5

    Oblomov

    DOUBLE REVIEW!!WEIVER ELBUOD Passionate Journey by Maserell vs Destiny: A Novel in Pictures by Otto Nückel: two Weimar era, wordless graphic novels about the trials and personal tragedies of two Germans. Who will win and who is a wee bit shite? The Plot: Passionate Journey: The adventures of a nameless young man who comes to the big city. Enamoured by alcohol, ladies of the night and the fun to be had, he slowly developes a sense of class consciousness and recognises the need for socialist change i DOUBLE REVIEW!!WEIVER ELBUOD Passionate Journey by Maserell vs Destiny: A Novel in Pictures by Otto Nückel: two Weimar era, wordless graphic novels about the trials and personal tragedies of two Germans. Who will win and who is a wee bit shite? The Plot: Passionate Journey: The adventures of a nameless young man who comes to the big city. Enamoured by alcohol, ladies of the night and the fun to be had, he slowly developes a sense of class consciousness and recognises the need for socialist change in a poverty stricken world. This guy seems to be having the time of his life, and his struggles are fairly minor, save his rather creepy rescue of an abused girl, who he raises and then falls in love with when she comes of age, who then dies of cop-out 'un-named female withering disease'. Mostly he's a strong, willful fellow who wanders from one sitation to another and seems fairly beloved by all who meet him, especially children. The story failed to give much punch or drama, as the effects of his hardships seem rather fleeting. Destiny: The tragic life of a young woman, from losing her mother and alcoholic father, to her run in with a despicable rakehell, a stint in prostitution, three doomed relationships and a grim ending. If Passionate Journey's punches didn't land, Destiny was a swift kick to the bollocks and then spitting on me while I groan. This is a dark, realist tale of misfortune and bad choices, which always remains sympathetic in its portrayal of a woman trapped in a cruel and unloving society. First round: Destiny. The Art Style: Passionate Journey is a series of expressionist woodcuts, putting me in mind of a colourless and castrated George Grosz or early soviet posters. They're rather lifeless and unmemorable, and the story presented isn't always clear. Thomas Mann offered a rather gushing introduction in my edition, and without some of his summary I think I may have missed key plot points. Destiny is also expressionist in style, with bulky law enforcement, sinister clowns and dark, claustrophobic settings. Moody and atmospheric, I needed no summary or introduction to understand what was happening, with Nückel's story always clear, though the motivations and gaps in story telling allow just the right space for some horrible workings of your own imagination. Second Round: Destiny. The Politics: Passionate Journey is a rather flagrant propaganda piece, with evil capitalists and an untouchable and indefatigable lower class hero, who even goes to Africa and is beloved by all the little village children and at this point I felt somewhat offended and talked down to. While the politics is overt, it doesn't really say anything, and the depiction of sex workers (a vulnerable group who needed the support of class aware political figures) isn't very sympathetic. Other episodes, such as the young girl he raises to be his girlfriend *hurk* are just out of place tangents. There is nothing as overtly political in Destiny. There are no revolutionaries, just an unfeeling and unjust world, where poverty is rife and stinking of alcohol. There is no safety net, no psychological help and prison simply punishes rather than reforms. It's an unspoken cry at a system that leaves people vulnerable and destitute, the 'Destiny' of the title referring to the protagonist's doomed siutation as an orphaned, working class woman. A far more effective comment on society's ills. Third Round: Destiny Final result: Knock out win for Destiny. As utterly miserable as Destiny is (you will need to prepare a cheery counterweight for its abject wretchedness if you read it), it was a welcome emotional sucker punch after the bland and condescending dreariness of the mistitled Passionate Journey. The latter will only be interesting to those studying early graphic novels or German expressionism, while the former is for those same people, but also those with even a passing interest in humanity.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lovely Fortune

    For my German class on graphic novels. I think I would have more of an artistic appreciation for this if I saw the original woodcut prints, but this is still very impressive in paper format. Beautiful images reminiscent of German Expressionist films, the likes of Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. I made multiple notes stating that I thought certain images were "very Caligari" because it definitely has the vibe and look of that set. Although at times I was confused, bored, and even frustrated by the n For my German class on graphic novels. I think I would have more of an artistic appreciation for this if I saw the original woodcut prints, but this is still very impressive in paper format. Beautiful images reminiscent of German Expressionist films, the likes of Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. I made multiple notes stating that I thought certain images were "very Caligari" because it definitely has the vibe and look of that set. Although at times I was confused, bored, and even frustrated by the narrative being presented, the artwork really does make up for these moments. The book definitely tries to explore the idea of "life cycles," but at times it's almost too obvious and I never feel a personal connection to the main character despite the fact that I likely should, so it seems a little contrived and makes me ask, "Why do I really care?" I'm sure the reader is meant to insert themselves in place of the protag, but I never felt the need (or rather the want) to do so.

  3. 4 out of 5

    SmarterLilac

    Mysterious and sad. The sparse illustrations tell a bleak story in as little space as possible.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael P.

    German illustrator Otto Nückel created this novel entirely in pictures. There was a bit of a movement to do this around 1930, the year of this book. I admire the movement, but this book has weaknesses. Nückel’s engravings do not tell the story clearly enough. The problem is less following the continuity and more seeing what is going on in selected illustrations. The story itself is full of clichés, and so most of it is predictable. There woman who is the protagonist has a terrible, terrible life German illustrator Otto Nückel created this novel entirely in pictures. There was a bit of a movement to do this around 1930, the year of this book. I admire the movement, but this book has weaknesses. Nückel’s engravings do not tell the story clearly enough. The problem is less following the continuity and more seeing what is going on in selected illustrations. The story itself is full of clichés, and so most of it is predictable. There woman who is the protagonist has a terrible, terrible life. There is a nice balance between life screwing her over and the woman suffering for her mistakes. That part feels real. A word about this Dover reprint. I have not seen the German edition, but the inconsistency of the size of the engravings is a problem. Some are tiny, and that makes them harder to read. The trim size of the book leaves far more white space on each page than illustration. It all looks shoddy. Perhaps this represents the author’s intent. If so, we do not know it because of the other thing wrong with this edition. It badly needs an introduction to tell readers about Nückel, the illustrated novel movement, literary and social antecedents to this book, and what the first publication was like with its reception. There is no introduction, preface, nor is there a biography of Nückel. Dover is to be thanks for bringing this book back into print. Dover is to be ashamed for doing such a half-assed job of it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Orion

    This is a graphic novel without words. Each picture tells a scene of the story and are made from block prints rather than drawn. The story of a young woman's tragic life is not easy to read or enjoyable, but the tale is powerful and well presented. This is a graphic novel without words. Each picture tells a scene of the story and are made from block prints rather than drawn. The story of a young woman's tragic life is not easy to read or enjoyable, but the tale is powerful and well presented.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Well, it's confirmed, I'm thick-headed. I kinda appreciated this work of art but the depth of the story was not impressed on me. Well, it's confirmed, I'm thick-headed. I kinda appreciated this work of art but the depth of the story was not impressed on me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Juan Jiménez García

    Otto Nückel. El blanco y el negro Entre todas las revoluciones o patadas en la puerta que trajo la posguerra, podemos encontrar algo así como el nacimiento de la novela gráfica. Un nacimiento que tenía mucho de involuntario, porque tal vez está más cerca de buscar una traslación del cine mudo (porque el cine todavía era mudo) a la novela, a través del grabado, principalmente en madera. Era dar un paso más allá para alejarse de la mera ilustración de los libros de los otros para convertirse en un Otto Nückel. El blanco y el negro Entre todas las revoluciones o patadas en la puerta que trajo la posguerra, podemos encontrar algo así como el nacimiento de la novela gráfica. Un nacimiento que tenía mucho de involuntario, porque tal vez está más cerca de buscar una traslación del cine mudo (porque el cine todavía era mudo) a la novela, a través del grabado, principalmente en madera. Era dar un paso más allá para alejarse de la mera ilustración de los libros de los otros para convertirse en un lenguaje propio basado en imágenes, porque esas primeras novelas gráficas serían, como el cine (o incluso más que él, dada la ausencia de intertítulos) mudas. Sin palabras. El primera artista que se entregará conscientemente a esa tarea será el belga Frans Masereel, que pasó no poco tiempo en Berlín. En 1918, su obra 25 images of a man's passion, contendrá el germen, tanto temático como expresivo. Reivindicación social y una intensidad brutal de blancos y negros para obtener unas imágenes expresionistas no muy alejadas del cine alemán pero buscando, necesariamente, su propio lenguaje. Su encuentro con Georges Grosz no le dejará indiferente y sus novelas van subiendo en profundidad y ambición, no muy lejos de su compañero de piso: ciudades voraces, calles atestadas, personajes corruptos y desmedidos (Die Stadt es emblemática). En 1926 y en ese caldo de cultivo aparecerá Otto Nückel. Nückel, hasta ese momento, se había dedicado al grabado como ilustración de libros (Mann, Hoffman) y Destino será la increíble excepción dentro de su obra: no habrá otra novela en imágenes de su parte. A través de 211 grabados, el artista alemán contaría la historia de su protagonista, una mujer a la que el destino, precisamente, nunca le reserva nada bueno. Y si lo hace es un mero tránsito hacia cosas mucho peores, en un melodrama de considerables proporciones. Las diferencias con Masereel, que no deja de ser el referente ineludible, no son pocas. Para empezar, el método de grabado utilizado. Por las dificultades de la época, Nückel utilizará el plomo frente a la madera. Sus imágenes serán igual de intensas, pero menos expresionistas. Frente a esa intensidad de la oposición blanco-negro, sin tonos medios, él trabajará el tramado, lo cual le permite una expresividad más matizada. Si en uno se impone lo inmediato, el golpe en la cara, en Destino se impone el matiz, la sutileza. Aun utilizando motivos recurrentes en la época (como las prostitutas, la deformidad,…) su aproximación es totalmente diferente, mucho menos grotesca que la de otros colegas. No es la única diferencia. La narrativa de Otto Nückel está perfectamente estructurada e incluso trabaja sobre efectos que no tienen que ver con la imagen, sino con aquello que hay entre una imagen y otra. Escenas como la del incendio son significativas. En vez de entregarse al dibujo espectacular de las llamas, el artista alemán prefiere mostrar lo que hay antes y lo que hay después, en un recurso que utilizará a menudo. En la vida de su protagonista estarán las causas y los efectos, pocas veces el acto en sí, en una estudiada búsqueda de la elipsis. Su narrativa será mucho más depurada, mucho más trabajada, sin entregar todo al dibujo, sino reservando buena parte a la historia, a la relación entre las imágenes. Este cine mudo de papel, este cine mudo para un solo espectador, acaba por ser un gesto sorprendente, que establece una relación completamente diferente con el lector (un lector que no tiene nada que leer). Una relación basada en la mirada y los sentimientos, e incluso en el tacto (preciosa la edición de Sans soleil). Una especie de lugar posible entre el cine y la literatura, en el espacio neutro de una época que fue pródiga en ambas, llena de ese furor y esa rabia necesarios para llegar aquí, a una novela única como Destino. Escrito para Détour.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris Miller

    Did not like Otto Nückel's art nearly as much as Lynd Ward's. The story was hard to follow. Did not like Otto Nückel's art nearly as much as Lynd Ward's. The story was hard to follow.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lahierbaroja

    Parece mentira cómo alguien con talento puede contarnos una historia tan bien contada como esta utilizando tan sólo los trazos en color gris. Hay que saber muy bien qué momentos inmortalizar, cuáles son las acciones relevantes para captar, además, los sentimientos de soledad y tristeza de los personajes. Muchas veces menos es más. Y parece que quienes no poseen de ese talento tratan de taparlo con una profusión de efectos, colores y exageraciones para que no se note. Como en los regalos: el envol Parece mentira cómo alguien con talento puede contarnos una historia tan bien contada como esta utilizando tan sólo los trazos en color gris. Hay que saber muy bien qué momentos inmortalizar, cuáles son las acciones relevantes para captar, además, los sentimientos de soledad y tristeza de los personajes. Muchas veces menos es más. Y parece que quienes no poseen de ese talento tratan de taparlo con una profusión de efectos, colores y exageraciones para que no se note. Como en los regalos: el envoltorio más bonito no augura el mejor contenido. https://lahierbaroja.wordpress.com/20...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    It's an original book. No words at all, which means that you have to piece the story together from pictures. My only problem was how difficult it was to figure out what was going on in some of the pictures (such as tell characters apart), so I feel I may have missed something important. Still, though, I suggest you give it a look. It's an original book. No words at all, which means that you have to piece the story together from pictures. My only problem was how difficult it was to figure out what was going on in some of the pictures (such as tell characters apart), so I feel I may have missed something important. Still, though, I suggest you give it a look.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    The pictures are crafted quite well in a woodcut style, but the story was confusing and hard to follow. Yes, I could have dug deeper and studied the series of pictures again, but I just wasn't hooked in or invested in this tale. The pictures are crafted quite well in a woodcut style, but the story was confusing and hard to follow. Yes, I could have dug deeper and studied the series of pictures again, but I just wasn't hooked in or invested in this tale.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Canavan

    ✭✭✭✭

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sam McCanna

    comics,indie,alt,woodcut,drama,punk

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    Some of the images are quite striking and beautiful, and Nuckel does a great job with light and shadow. Story just didn't really do much for me though. Some of the images are quite striking and beautiful, and Nuckel does a great job with light and shadow. Story just didn't really do much for me though.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ademption

    3.5 stars rounded up.

  16. 5 out of 5

    James F

    A novel in engravings, influenced by Masereel. I felt the story in this one was too obvious and melodramatic.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aimee Mitrosky

  19. 5 out of 5

    OTIS

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jared

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jim Ivy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Griffith

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

  25. 4 out of 5

    Thim Sagefjord

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mtbt

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

  30. 5 out of 5

    Orçun

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