The Public Domain Review

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The Black Dandy of Buenos Aires: Racial Fictions and the Search for Raúl Grigera

Wednesday 31 May 2023 at 13:03

A mysterious staple of Buenos Aires nightlife in the 1910s and 20s, Raúl Grigera was an audacious Afro-Argentine dandy, an eccentric bohemian icon, a man who called himself el murciélago (the bat). Paulina L. Alberto examines the racial stories told by photographs, comic strips, and newspaper articles about a person many knew only as “el negro Raúl”, searching for the life behind the legend.


Denishawn Dance Film (ca. 1916)

Tuesday 30 May 2023 at 17:34

This silent picture offers a glimpse into the early activities of the Denishawn dance school.


Medieval Illustrations of Bonnacons

Thursday 25 May 2023 at 15:34

To ward off attackers this mythical animal was said to expel excrement with a devastating explosive force.


Eyewitness Accounts of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Tuesday 23 May 2023 at 14:32

The heart of this book is the sharp and disjointed accounts of survivors, their experience not yet shorn of its surprise.


Marvellous Moderns: The Brothers Perrault

Wednesday 17 May 2023 at 09:31

Charles Perrault is celebrated as the collector of some of the world’s best-known fairy tales. But his brothers were just as remarkable: Claude, an architect of the Louvre, and Pierre, who discovered the hydrological cycle. As Hugh Aldersey-Williams explores, all three were able to use positions within the orbit of the Sun King to advance their modern ideas about the world.


Peking Opera Characters (ca. 1900)

Tuesday 16 May 2023 at 08:54

Painted by an unidentified artist, these opera characters are gathered from literature, military history, and myth.


Photographs of the Los Angeles Alligator Farm (ca. 1907)

Thursday 11 May 2023 at 13:04

These images of the LA Alligator Farm depict a level of casual proximity unthinkable today.


Indian Sign Talk (1893)

Wednesday 10 May 2023 at 08:36

An early guide to communicating in the language now known as Plains Indian Sign Language.


The Ether Dreams of Fin-de-Siècle Paris

Wednesday 3 May 2023 at 10:19

Those who sipped or sniffed ether and chloroform in the 19th century experienced a range of effects from these repurposed anaesthetics, including preternatural mental clarity, psychological hauntings, and slippages of space and time. Mike Jay explores how the powerful solvents shaped the writings of Guy de Maupassant and Jean Lorrain — psychonauts who opened the door to an invisible dimension of mind and suffered Promethean consequences.


Punctuation Personified (1824)

Thursday 27 April 2023 at 12:06

Taking a child on a tour through punctuation, Mr. Stops introduces him to a cast of literal “characters”: admiring exclamation marks and militaristic semicolons.