Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Alastair

Working name of German-born writer and illustrator, pianist, dancer and mime artist Hans Henning Voigt (1887-1969), who claimed to be the illegitimate offspring of a hot-headed Bavarian prince and a pretty Irish girl. This account of his origins is as dubious as his mysteriously acquired title of "Baron", since, of all the Decadents (> Decadence), it is probably of him that it could most truly be said that he "created himself".

He was largely self-taught. His drawing style was heavily influenced by that of Aubrey Beardsley. Pictures usually comprised a delicately outlined single figure or couple, the details filled in with solid areas and fine, lacelike patterning. In much of his work there is an intense eroticism, redolent with sadomasochistic elements. The faces are like Masks, with large expressive eyes. He anonymously illustrated several privately printed books and pamphlets 1904-1914 before being befriended by John Lane of the Bodley Head, who published Forty Three Drawings by Alastair (With a Note of Exclamation by Robert Ross) (graph 1914 UK). Ten years later, an entirely new selection of illustrations was published under the title Fifty Drawings by Alastair (graph 1925 US). A's other work includes Illustrations for books of fiction, poetry and drama, and translations of both prose and poetry from French and English into German, among them works by Charles Baudelaire, Gustave Flaubert, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Keats and Oscar Wilde. He illustrated The Sphinx (1920 UK) by Wilde, Carmen (1920 Germany) by Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870), Die Buchse der Pandora ["Pandora's Box"] (1921) by Frank Wedekind (1864-1918), Erdgeist (1921) by Wedekind, Sebastian von Storck (1924 Austria) by Walter Pater (1695-1736), Salome (1925 France) by Wilde, The Fall of the House of Usher (1928 France) by Edgar Allan Poe, L'Anniversaire de l'Enfante (1928 France) by Wilde, Manon Lescaut (1928 UK/US) by Abbé Prévost (1697-1763) and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (2 vols 1929 France) by Pierre de Laclos (1741-1803). He also illustrated a small number of privately printed books of poetry and wrote Das Flammende Tal ["The Flaming Valley"] (1920), a book of poetry. [RT]

further reading: Alastair: Illustrator of Decadence (graph 1979) by Victor Arwas.

Hans Henning Voigt

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.