The First Graphic Novel - 1783
'Lenardo and Blandine' by Joseph Franz von Goez

(pronounced 'yozeff frunts fon goats/guts')

(translation by Andy Bleck, Nov. 2007)

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Just after the birth of the United States and before the French revolution, the human race started out on two interesting journeys. One was to leave the humdrum two-dimensional flatness of mother earth and take the first steps to conquer space (Brothers Montgolfier's first free flight of a hot air balloon with passengers, 21.11.1783). Another journey, of the same year, was for people on paper to escape, not the flatness of paper, but the confinement of existing on a single image, the confinement of time. In a way it was yet another journey of space exploration, the space beyond the picture frame.

The two events may not be entirely unrelated. Both are a direct expression of the 18th century curiosity to know about, understand and rationally categorize knowable aspects of life, similar to Samuel Johnson's dictionary (1747-1754) or Diderot's encyclopedia (1750-1784). Visualising a story, or as in Goez's case a person in distress, not via one or a few representative depictions, but with a seemingly unnessecary generosity or overabundance of obsessive variation, belongs to a modern sensibiliy, a thirst for both sensual and material information.

Joseph Franz Freiherr von Goez, was born 28.2.1754 in Hermannstadt (Siebenbürgen), and died 16.9.1815 in Regensburg. Until 1779 Goez was working as a lawyer in Vienna. There he became a portrait painter. From 1779-1783 he lived in Munich, where he wrote and directed the muscial drama 'Lenardo und Blandine' (musical score by P.Winter) after Bürger's ballad, which itself was greatly inspired by a story from Boccaccio's Decamerone (fourth book, first story - Count Tancredo of Salerno). The success of this performance inspired him to create the sequence 'Attempt of a numerous sequence of passionate Designs for sentimental friends of art and theatre' (during a long stay in Augsburg). From 1785-1791 he was back in Munich, and 1791-1815 in Regensburg. - Because of his picture sequence, he became known by his contemporaries as 'the German Hogarth'.

Lenardo and Blandine - A melodrama after Bürger in 160 passionate designs.
Invented and etched in copper by J.F.von Götz 1783

The Duke, lead by the Prince, appears at the door.

He wants to be sure of the deed and listens.

Arroused in pain and anger, he tries to enter.

Overcome by pain and anger, he sinks to earth.

After having recovered, he tries to get a grip on himself.

One can hear the lovers whispering.

Blandine: Oh Darling, beloved, stay a while, stay!

Lenardo: Let me go, let me go heavenly creature, my soul is yours!

God, if only I wouldn't have to go.

Blandine: My husband! Can't you see my eyes shining in the moonlight?

Don't you feel my yearning and love?

Lenardo: Oh woe! Fear is overtaking me!

If the King, oh if he would find out!

Blandine: (Ahndung = retribution) Heaven, you received our true vows.

Oh, how it is beating there!

God, I cannot let go of you.

You don't want to leave, beloved?
Lenardo: Princess, my heart and soul are yours, they should never be parted from you, but I must.

Listen to the sound, the swallow announces the morning!
Blandine: No no, those are just the love-warbling nightingales.

See how the mountain ranges are turning red.

This look!

And this touch!

God is our witness! True, unbreakable love!

Once more now close to my breast.

Good bye. ..! Adieu!

Oh woe, how your heart in beating!

Sleep sweet! Sleep well!

They try to separate.

They separate.

They open up their arms once more.

And rush back, beast to breast.

(Lenardo is filled with fear, after a few palpitations of his shaken heart.)

King: Die, scoundrel.
Lenardo: God, have pity!

(Blandine on her night bed, fighting with heavy dreams.)

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