Serio-Comic War Map For The Year 1877
- Serio-Comic War Map For The Year 1877
- Full Title:
- Serio-Comic War Map For The Year 1877. Revised Edition.
- Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection
- Rose, Fred [Frederick] W.
- Other Creator(s):
- G.W. [George Washington] Bacon & Co., publisher
- Date posted:
- ID Number:
- Politics & Government
Other War & Peace
- 44 x 62
- Collector's Notes:
- This famous "Octopus" satirical map was first published in March 1877, two months after Russia attacked the Ottoman Empire in response to the Turkish massacre of Christian Bulgarians (represented here by a skull). See generally Barber 2005, 284; Barron 2016a; Barron 2016b, 17-18. A lengthy legend on the map explains the position of the great powers and affected countries, and Barber 2005 provides additional detail.
This map "is generally considered the British graphic artist Fred Rose's cartographic masterpiece" (Barber 2005), "an internationally recognized visual propagandist trope" (Barron 2016, 15). Rose was identified in the first edition only as "F.W.R.," although an edition a few weeks later was ascribed to "F.W. Rose." The map quickly became popular, and this "Revised Edition" was published in July 1877 on a smaller scale and with a larger octopus threatening a larger geographic area in the Mid-East and Central Asia. Barron 2016b. The Revised Edition included a "new and more extensive bi-lingual key in both English and German." Ibid. 26 n.5.
Rose "crystallized, formalized and refined" the genre of European political cartoon maps (Barron 2008, 11), but for more than a century almost nothing was known about him apart from the importance of his work. Thanks to determined recent research, we now know quite a bit. See generally Worms 2014; Barron 2016b. Rose had a day job: he was a British civil servant for 42 years, rising to become the Deputy Principal Clerk in the Legacy Duty Office of the Inland Revenue at the time of his retirement. He supplemented his income with caricatures and articles for newspapers and journals. Barron 2016, 16. He wrote two sensational novels, one about racy romantic affairs among the fashionable, the other about what we today would call a serial killer. Worms 2014. And he was a dedicated Tory from his teenage years, "forever affiliated to the Conservative cause" who maintained "a lifelong engagement with local Conservative political associations and organisations." Barron 2016b, 17.
Rose's political views shed light on the Octopus map. The Liberals were hostile to the Ottoman Empire, particularly after the slaughter of the Bulgarian Slavs, and Gladstone had called for removal of the Turks "bag and baggage" from the Balkans. The Conservative administration under Disraeli saw the Turks as an important counterweight to Russian territorial expansion, and were particularly concerned that if Russia captured Constantinople, it would have a warm-water port on the Mediterranean, uncomfortably close to the new Suez Canal. This map reflects the views of the "pro-Turkish Russophobe Tories" in opposition to those of the "anti-Turkish Russophile Liberals." Ibid. 18.
The Octopus map was very successful, in Britain and (particularly because of the absence of international copyright protection) elsewhere in Europe. For references to editions in Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French, as well as an American edition, see Barron 2016a. Indeed, the map was so well known that when Rose produced another landmark satirical map 22 years later ("Angling in Troubled Waters," ID #1135), the creator was identified as "Fred. W. Rose, Author of the 'Octopus' Map of Europe."
The octopus is a persistent trope in persuasive cartography. It first appeared in Frederick Rose's "Serio-Comic War Map For The Year 1877," ID #2272, about the Russo-Turkish War. "Once Fred W. Rose had created the 'Octopus' map of Europe, it proved difficult to rid propaganda maps of them." Barber 2010, 164. "The prevalence of the octopus motif in later maps suggests that the octopus also spoke to humanity's primeval fears, evoking a terrifying and mysterious creature from the depths (the dark outer places of the world) that convincingly conjured a sense of limitless evil." Baynton-Williams 2015, 180.
The collection includes numerous maps - from Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Latin America, the Netherlands and the U.S. - employing the octopus motif. (Search > “octopus”.) Many of these relate to imperialism and war, from 1877 to the Cold War. Others attack social and political targets, including a "reactionary" journalist, the Standard Oil monopoly, “Landlordism,” mail order houses, Jews and Mormons.
- For further information on the Collector’s Notes and a Feedback/Contact Link, see https://persuasivemaps.library.cornell.edu/content/about-collection-personal-statement and https://persuasivemaps.library.cornell.edu/content/feedback-and-contact
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- Private Collection of PJ Mode
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