The Lysistrata of Aristophanes: Now First Wholly Translated into English and Illustrated with Eight Full-page Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley
With autograph letter from Aubrey Beardsley to Leonard Smithers, 19 December 1895.
He had scant interest in politics or matters of war and peace, but Beardsley found Lysistrata by the classical Greek playwright Aristophanes irresistible for other reasons. This comedy about wives on a sex strike to force their husbands to end the Peloponnesian War offered him boundless opportunities to do what he loved most: draw genitalia, including engorged penises larger than the bodies of the men to whom they belonged. While doing so, he demonstrated that in his hands (so to speak) sexual organs could have as much individual character as faces. Lysistrata was also a feminist play, about women’s power, and Beardsley’s frontispiece showed a formidable woman whose fingers—as in Beardsley’s earlier Cinderella (1894)—were used to suggest her labia majora. This copy of Lysistrata is accompanied by a note from Beardsley to its publisher, Leonard Smithers.
From the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press