Saturday, May 12, 2007

Our Baby Is a Rabbit?

There are those times when something on BibliOdyssey prompts strange things in my brain... in this case, the prompt was a post with images of remarkable persons.
I don't claim to know of very many people who would have been chronicled in a nineteenth-century collection of strongmen, people who lived to be 129, and female sailors who beheaded Frenchmen, but Mary Tofts, decorously depicted with a little rabbit in her lap and labeled "The Pretended Rabbit Breeder," was familiar enough. Long, long ago, the entity now known as Dr. Zaius brought one of Hogarth's renditions of Mary Tofts to my attention, as in those days we were busy bringing up a Fierce Bad Rabbit (well, not actually all that fierce, but he liked to bite through phone cords while I was on the phone). I'm not sure whether the image in question was Cunicularii

or Credulity, Superstition, and Fanaticism or some other print that I haven't run across on the internet, but what does it really matter... Mary Tofts and her alleged ability to give birth to large quantities of rabbits could hardly but stick in my mind. (And for all I know also inspired the Julio Cortazar story "Letter to a Young Lady in Paris," which involves a narrator who constantly vomits live rabbits.)

The desire to parent rabbits is not unique to Mary Tofts or to those of us who belong to the House Rabbit Society, as this brilliantly surreal Calvin and Hobbes strip from 1989 suggests. It made me laugh uncontrollably back then and still does. (No doubt I still have the original clipping somewhere, but I found this one here, where you can read the text easily.)
Czechs find it utterly bizarre that anyone would bring a rabbit indoors as anything except dinner, but my parents know that they've got to take their grandchildren in the species they come in. You can support the House Rabbit Society's rescue and education efforts by getting something like this at their online Cafe Press store.
Ms. Spots and Orion, currently boarding at the HRS, say "Buy those HRS pillows and T shirts!"
I say, Adopt, don't be like Mary Tofts who stuffed dead animals where they don't belong.

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Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Jeepers, I remember that comic! And Mary Tofts, too. I had forgotten about her. That brings back memories. I love the "My grandchild is a rabbit!?!?" graphic. The bunny is doing situps! And one, and two...

May 12, 2007 4:58 AM  
Blogger Princess Haiku said...

The surrealists would like this I'm sure.

May 12, 2007 7:52 AM  
Blogger pk said...

The best sort of companion (or grandchild for that matter) is one you can both pet and eat.

May 12, 2007 4:56 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

There's only one kind of companion that I both pet and eat. They're a bit short on fur though.

May 12, 2007 8:29 PM  
Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Here is the Calvin and Hobbes with an image map and ALT tags added for easier reading.

May 13, 2007 2:12 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Thanks, that's utterly spiffy! One of these days I'll learn to do image maps... well, maybe after I figure out how to put the illustrations above the captions in my dissertation. That looks like enough hard labor.

May 13, 2007 6:46 PM  

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