Ronald Paulson's latest book describes Hogarth's final years

BOOKS & AUTHORS

July 25, 1993|By James H. Bready

Ronald Paulson's new book is austerely titled "Hogarth: Art and Politics, 1750-1764" (Rutgers University Press, $65; $24.95 paperback). It is the third and last volume in his Hogarth biography. In academe, you play it straight. William Hogarth, on the other hand, could have some fun. The great 18th-century London painter-engraver-theoretician, who died at age 66, drew a wasteland. His "Tail Piece" (full of legends and symbols -- "Finis," "The World's End," a cracked bell, a fallen angel, a broken tavern sign, etc.) remains eye-catching today.

Hogarth died that year, 1764. He had no following; rather, the art coming into vogue was symbolized by the upper-class portraiture, seemly and proper, of Joshua Reynolds. Hogarth, quarrelsome, verbose and proud of being the first Englishman renowned beyond England for his painting, was a commoner.

A great subject, Hogarth, for the biographer. But for the hiatus of years, Professor Paulson could be said to own Hogarth by now, in the manner of James Boswell and Samuel Johnson. A star in the English and Humanities departments at Johns Hopkins and a graceful writer, Dr. Paulson is also notable for his career travels, starting at Yale. He has gone from New Haven to Baltimore to New Haven to Baltimore.

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Hardly any Jewish persons lived in Colonial Maryland, the standard historians contend, citing the so-called Toleration Act of 1649 -- its blessings extended only to Trinitarians. Also, the tobacco economy wasn't much of a fit with the traditional Jewish trades.

But Eric L. Goldstein, a native of Annapolis and now a graduate student at the University of Michigan, has identified at least 100 Jewish men from England who lived here between 1700 and 1775. They were "transports," i.e., convict laborers, serving out terms "in servitude to colonial planters."

Using the sources and methods of social history in his book, "Traders and Transports: The Jews of Colonial Maryland" (Jewish Historical Society of Maryland, paperback, $7.50), Mr. Goldstein finds Jewish Marylanders far back in the 1600s.

Before Jacob Lumbrozo, an oft-mentioned physician and litigant, there was the Calvert County merchant, David Ferara. In the 1730s, his Gentile wife's inheritance made Phineas Alferino of London the squire of a Talbot County plantation.

Before Baltimore's rise, Frederick was the most tolerant of Maryland towns, Annapolis the one with the most "anti-Jewish sentiment."

The Jewish Historical Society, headed by Bernard Fishman, has become an active publisher. This fall, it will be bringing out a book by Earl Pruce listing the "Synagogues, Temples and Congregations of Maryland, 1830-1990."

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There is life after death, architecturally speaking, in the empty buildings photographed in color by Robert de Gast for his book "Unreal Estate" (Johns Hopkins University Press, $59.95; paperback $29.95). Looking about on Virginia's Eastern Shore, where he now lives, Mr. de Gast finds the population in decline, and many a house in tortured, picturesque decay.

Audrey McGaffin died in May, age 79, mourned by husband, daughter, son, grandchildren, fellow Baltimoreans and the world mid-century poetry. A Western High graduate, the former Audrey Romoser was encouraged by Karl Shapiro and Richard Hart, and was a friend of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. She was a founding member of the old Baltimore Writers Forum. Her work was prominent in Imagi, the international poetry magazine founded and edited by Thomas Cole of Baltimore.

"The Imagined Country" was a 1957 collection of her poems, and she was represented in several national poetry anthologies.

With her husband, Curtiss H. McGaffin (a retired Sun printer and layout man), Mrs. McGaffin moved to Anne Arundel County. There she wrote a 1970 recipe book, "A Gift From the Kitchen."

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Signings: Martha Grimes will autograph her latest mystery, the Baltimore-based "The Horse You Came In On," Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mystery Loves Company bookstore, 1626 Thames St., in Fells Point. For information call (410) 276-6708.

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