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A Mickey Mouse Reader

A Mickey Mouse Reader

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 430
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  • Book Info
    A Mickey Mouse Reader
    Book Description:

    Ranging from the playful, to the fact-filled, and to the thoughtful, this collection tracks the fortunes of Walt Disney's flagship character. From the first full-fledged review of his screen debut in November 1928 to the present day, Mickey Mouse has won millions of fans and charmed even the harshest of critics. Almost half of the eighty-one texts inA Mickey Mouse Readerdocument the Mouse's rise to glory from that first cartoon,Steamboat Willie, through his seventh year when his first color animation,The Band Concert, was released. They include two important early critiques, one by the American culture critic Gilbert Seldes and one by the famed English novelist E. M. Forster.

    Articles and essays chronicle the continued rise of Mickey Mouse to the rank of true icon. He remains arguably the most vivid graphic expression to date of key traits of the American character--pluck, cheerfulness, innocence, energy, and fidelity to family and friends. Among press reports in the book is one from June 1944 that puts to rest the urban legend that "Mickey Mouse" was a password or code word on D-Day. It was, however, the password for a major pre-invasion briefing.

    Other items illuminate the origins of "Mickey Mouse" as a term for things deemed petty or unsophisticated. One piece explains how Walt and brother Roy Disney, almost single-handedly, invented the strategy of corporate synergy by tagging sales of Mickey Mouse toys and goods to the release of Mickey's latest cartoons shorts. In two especially interesting essays, Maurice Sendak and John Updike look back over the years and give their personal reflections on the character they loved as boys growing up in the 1930s.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-059-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Film Studies, Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-2)

    Born in Chicago in 1901, raised in rural Missouri and Kansas City, Walter Elias Disney was a child of the new century, a son of the Heartland. Never a stranger to hard work, as a boy, Walt delivered papers—morning and evening—, sold refreshments on passenger trains, and dreamed of drawing political cartoons for a big city daily.

    He served in France as a Red Cross driver at the end of World War I. When he returned to the States, Walt applied to theKansas City Starfor a job as editorial cartoonist, but was rejected and went instead...

  4. 1. The Early Years, 1928–1931

    • [1. Introduction]
      (pp. 3-5)

      In March 1927, Universal Pictures hired Walt Disney to produceOswald the Lucky Rabbit. Five months later, in a squib labeled “Short Subjects,” the trade paperFilm Dailytermed the feature “a riot.” DespiteOswald’s success, however, when Walt’s contract came up for review, he was offered a reduction in pay, not the raise he felt he deserved. He rejected the proposed terms and, in short order, in concert with his ace animator, Ub Iwerks, and brother Roy, created Mickey.

      No one then imagined Mickey Mouse becoming “one of the most famous actors on the screen,” as journalist Harry Carr,...

    • Steamboat Willie
      (pp. 6-6)
      Robert J. Landry

      Not the first animated cartoon to be synchronized with sound effects but the first to attract favorable attention. This one represents a high order of cartoon ingenuity cleverly combined with sound effects. The union brought forth gags galore. Giggles came so fast at the Colony they were stumbling over each other.

      It’s a peach of a synchronization job all the way, bright, snappy and fitting the situation perfectly. Cartoonist, Walter Disney.

      With most of the animated cartoons qualifying as a pain in the neck it’s a signal tribute to this particular one. If the same combination of talent can turn...

    • “Steamboat Billie” / Walt Disney Cartoon / Real Entertainment
      (pp. 7-7)
      Film Daily

      This is what “Steamboat Willie” has: First, a clever and amusing treatment; secondly, music and sound effects added via the Cinephone method. The result is a real tidbit of diversion. A maximum has been gotten from the sound effects. Worthy of bookings in any house wired to reproduce sound-on-film. Incidentally, this is the first Cinephonerecorded subject to get public exhibition and at the Colony, New York, is being shown over Western Electric equipment. Distribution has not been set.

      Distribution in the United States forSteamboat Billie[sic] and the other early Mickey cartoons would be managed on a states rights...

    • The Barn Dance / Draughtsman . . . Walt Disney
      (pp. 8-8)
      London Film Society

      The Mickey Mouse series of films presents a model of synchronisation. It consists of animated cartoons, of that kind of whichMutt and Jeff,The Katzenjammer Kiddies(renamed during the warThe Prohibition Children) andÆsop’s Fableswere among the earliest examples and of which Felix the Cat is perhaps the most celebrated. The personality of Felix is no doubt more individual than are those of the protagonists of Mickey Mouse, but the drawings of the latter series are superior in fertility of invention. In his limited field, Mickey Mouse has achieved that perfect blend between visual and aural impulses...

    • Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 9-11)
      Caroline Alice Lejeune

      To my mind, Walt Disney’s cartoons of Mickey Mouse are the most imaginative, witty, and satisfying productions that can be found in the modern cinema. It is surely beside the point to argue that cartoon is not, and never can be, the highest form of expression in any medium. The cinema has not yet discovered its highest form of expression, but it has discovered, and perfected, the cartoon. I can imagine finer films than Mickey Mouse, but I cannot walk into a theatre and see them. Walt. Disney’s work is here, and it is good; that somebody else’s work must...

    • The Cinema (excerpt)
      (pp. 12-14)
      Pierre Scize and Michel-Joseph Piot

      Today, 15 December 1929,Jazzcan, without fear of inciting laughter among those who will leaf through its pages in 1960, proclaim the following: “Technically perfect sound films are now being shown in the cinema.”

      Remember that it is barely a year since the first mediocre attempts at talking films were presented to the public. What the future has in store we can only guess.

      —What pictures are we talking about:Broadway-Melody,Les Trois Masques, imperfect or impossible films that are, by turns, both astonishing and ridiculous?

      —Not at all. We are referring, rather, to the phenomenal series...

    • An International Language: The Animated Cartoon (excerpt)
      (pp. 15-16)
      Maurice Bessy

      It seems that everything has been said already about the marvelous “talkartoons” which have, no doubt, converted more people to talking pictures than eitherTrois Masques or Broadway Melody.

      Who today can possibly be unaware of that great star of sound animated cartoons, the mischievous mouse Mickey, offspring of the cartoonist Ub Iwerks? Mickey, emperor of the inkwell and king of the microphone!

      Mickey’s fame justifies our providing a few details about his father, one of the most accomplished American “cartoonists,” too often overlooked in favor of the well-deserved praise bestowed upon his creations.

      Ub Iwerks was not an overnight...

    • Miraculous Mickey
      (pp. 17-19)
      Creighton Peet

      Should I ever visit Hollywood—that golden land where other people’s ideas are used until they are threadbare and then patched a hundred times—there is but a single studio I should insist on visiting. This is the modest establishment which turns out the Walt Disney “Mickey Mouse” and “Silly Symphony” animated cartoons. These charming drawings, ingenious and often refreshingly original, are something of a high climax in the cinematic art—yes, art. They are “free” in the fullest and most intelligent sense of the term. They know neither space, time, substance nor the dignity of the laws of physics....

    • On Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 20-21)
      Walter Benjamin

      From a conversation with Glück and Weill.—Property relations in Mickey Mouse cartoons: here we see for the first time that it is possible to have one’s own arm, even one’s own body, stolen.

      The route taken by Mickey Mouse is more like that of a file in an office than it is like that of a marathon runner.

      In these films, mankind makes preparations to survive civilization.

      Mickey Mouse proves that a creature can still survive even when it has thrown off all resemblance to a human being. He disrupts the entire hierarchy of creatures that is supposed to...

    • Regulated Rodent
      (pp. 22-24)

      Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America last week announced that, because of the complaints of many censor boards, the famed udder of the cow in Mickey Mouse cartoons was now banned. Cows in Mickey Mouse or other cartoon pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed other of Mickey Mouse’s patrons. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting when the cow stood...

    • The Only Unpaid Movie Star
      (pp. 25-34)
      Harry Carr

      Even though you may be a citizen of the world, you really must have a place to hang your hat. Just so with the illustrious, world-famous, pen-and-ink talkie star—El Señor . . . Herr . . . Monsieur . . . Mister . . .“Mickey Mouse.”

      He is known in Paris and Paraguay; in Norway and Northampton; in every capital of Europe and America; and in the far islands of the sea. But he has his abode on the edge of Hollywood. One would reasonably expect him to be living in a palatial Edam cheese. But—alas—the mansion...

    • You Can See Mickey Mouse Dancing . . .
      (pp. 35-36)

      “Die Diktatur,” the Pomeranian regional organ of the N.S.A.P., published the following appeal:

      “The Mickey Mouse Scandal!!!”

      “Blonde, freethinking, urban German youth tied to the apron strings of Jewish finance. Young people, where is your sense of self? Mickey Mouse is the shabbiest, most miserable ideal ever invented. Mickey Mouse is a recipe for mental enfeeblement sent over with capital from the Young Plan. Healthy instinct should tell every decent girl and honest boy that those filthy, dirt-caked vermin, the greatest carriers of bacteria in the animal kingdom, cannot be made into an ideal animal type. Have we nothing better...

    • “Mickey Mouse”: How He Was Born
      (pp. 37-42)
      Walt Disney

      Filmgoers in this enlightened age are more or less familiar with the inner mysteries of a motion picture studio. Almost anyone can explain how the studio scene-shifters can produce at a moment’s notice, so to speak, a storm at sea, an earthquake, snowclad mountain-tops, sunparched plains, a mediaeval castle or a modern skyscraper, all within a space of a hundred square feet or so, and within a stone’s-throw of the busy thoroughfares of Hollywood.

      What puzzles them, however, is how the ingenious Mickey Mouse can gambol and gyrate across the screenland landscape without the aid of studio “ props,” stage...

    • Mickey-Mouse Maker
      (pp. 43-50)
      Gilbert Seldes

      In the current American mythology, Mickey Mouse is the imp, the benevolent dwarf of older fables, and like them he is far more popular than the important gods, heroes, and ogres. Over a hundred prints of each of his adventures are made, and of the fifteen thousand movie houses wired for sound in America, twelve thousand show his pictures. So far he has been deathless, as the demand for the early Mickey Mouses continues although they are nearly four years old; they are used at children’s matinees, for request programs, and as acceptable fillers in programs of short subjects. It...

  5. 2. Into the Realm of High Art, 1932–1933

    • [2. Introduction]
      (pp. 51-52)

      Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse reached the airy strata of high art half a century before their now far more familiar association with Pop Art maestros like Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and Andy Warhol.

      In November–December 1931, as Diego Rivera readied a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art, he authored an essay, “Mickey Mouse and American Art,” published in February 1932 in a short-lived literary magazine calledContact. In Rivera’s article, he predicted that Mickey would be seen as “one of the genuine heroes of American Art in the first half of the 20th Century.”

      Also in...

    • Mickey Mouse and American Art
      (pp. 53-55)
      Diego Rivera

      The other night after a lecture on The Functions of Art and of the Artists in Present Day Society we prolonged the same theme and arrived at length at the discussion of things which are not taken seriously, not even by those that make them.

      I remember innumerable things made in Mexico which are destined to be destroyed—sculptures in sugar, made to be eaten; sculptures in cardboard and paper made especially to be torn to pieces or burnt (The Judases*). And those things are the ones which really possess the greatest plastic value in the art of Mexico.


    • Mickey Mouse: He Stays on the Job
      (pp. 56-57)
      Terry Ramsaye

      Mickey Mouse is the crystalline, concentrated quintessence of that which is peculiarly the motion picture. He is at one with the Great Common Denominator of the great common art of the commonality in terms of expression, while in production he is a logarithmic derivation of the whole of screen technology. He is as simple as a dandelion and we do not know what makes it grow.

      Mickey is most humbly superhuman. He is an evolutionary product with everything that ever was made for the screen in his ancestry and with Charlie Chaplin as his closest human relative.

      The irrepressible Mickey...

    • An Artist of Our Time: Walter E. Disney, 1901–
      (pp. 58-60)
      Dorothy Grafly

      Walter E. Disney, American artist, creator of Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies, was born in Chicago, December 5, 1901, of Irish-Canadian and German-American ancestry.

      Disney’s early impressions of life were various, as the family was continuously on the move, remaining six years, however, on a farm in Missouri, where the boy became acquainted with barnyard characters. City life followed, and at 17 Walt, although under age for the army, enrolled with an ambulance unit for a year in France. At the close of the World War he returned to Kansas City to eke out a living as free lance news...

    • He Gave Us Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 61-65)
      Jack Jamison

      There is a young man, in Hollywood of all places, who could be a millionaire if he liked, but who smiles and shrugs and says, “No; I’m having too much fun this way, thanks.”

      He is Walter Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse and the Silly Symphonies.

      In 1919 a young Red Cross ambulance driver came home from France to Kansas City, Missouri. He became a ten-dollar-a-week apprentice in a commercial art firm. Let out when business was slow, he carried mail for Uncle Sam, and shortly teamed up with another youngster who liked pencils and paper. They drew pictures of...

    • Notes on the Art of Mickey Mouse and His Creator Walt Disney
      (pp. 66-71)
      Eleanor Lambert

      In a five dollar-a-month room over a garage which he proudly termed his “studio”, a boy named Walt Disney used to sit at night and watch the antics of a pair of little mice. After weeks of patient persuasion, he had tamed them beyond the precincts of their hole in the base-board, across the floor and at last onto his drawing-board. There they sat up and nibbled bits of cheese in their paws or even ate from his hand. As he watched them, he sometimes wrote letters to his niece, aged six, daughter of his older brother who carried mail...

    • Mickey Mouse Invades Gallery
      (pp. 72-72)
      Art Digest

      May, the month of merriment and gay festivals, marks the appearance in a New York art gallery, of that cheerful little creature, indigenous to America, but welcomed heartily in other countries, Mickey Mouse.

      Heretofore, Mickey has only executed his capers on the motion picture screen, but due to the efforts of the College Art Association in co-operation with the United Artists Corporation, 50 black-and-white drawings of him by Walt Disney, his creator, will be on view at the Kennedy Galleries, all month. There will also be 50 water color drawings of the Silly Symphonies.

      The College Art Association feels that...

    • Mickey Mouse Goes to Hollywood—How Young Artist Tamed His Models
      (pp. 73-75)
      Edwin C. Hill

      Behind the news that Artist Walt Disney will hereafter do all his work and transact all his affairs in Hollywood, lies one of those human stories which make news live. For the announcement means that Mickey Mouse has gone to California—Mickey and his beloved Minnie and all the little mice.

      Well, Mickey should have quite a few years to enjoy the golden sunshine of beautiful Southern California. He is only five years old which, while fairly well along in years for the ordinary mouse, is nothing for the irrepressible, ageless Mickey. For Mickey Mouse, like Alice in Wonderland, will...

    • Mickey Mouse, Big Bad Wolf Reach Walls of Art Museum
      (pp. 76-78)
      United Press

      CHICAGO, Dec. 14—The antics of Mickey Mouse and fantasies from Silly Symphonies ascended to the stately walls of the Chicago Art Museum today for the winter exhibits of the Art Institute.

      Beside the grim Russian morbidities of Boris Grigoriev, Walt Disney’s big, bad wolf squared off for a good huff and puff at the house of straw and the little piggies wiggled their way under the bed.

      Grigoriev’s “Theodore Karamazov” squinted with a leer trying to watch Minnie Mouse chase Pluto, the dog, just across the gallery.

      Sandwiched between Rockwell Kent’s austere paintings of Greenland ice fields and the...

  6. 3. “You’re the Top,” 1934–1935

    • [3. Introduction]
      (pp. 79-81)

      TheNew York Timeswas truly the “Newspaper of Record” where Mickey Mouse was concerned. One-sixth of the texts in this book appeared in theTimes, which, in 1928, thanks to Mordaunt Hall’s glowing review, had given Mickey his first critical mention by the fourth estate. Hundreds, if not thousands, of items, short and long, were to follow during the course of the next eight decades, including a half-dozen feature articles in theTimesSunday magazine. But it was not until 1934 that the paper’s devotion to the character began to manifest itself in force.

      “Now Mickey Mouse Enters Art’s...

    • The Life Story of Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 82-88)
      Walt Disney

      Perhaps it is one of the many paradoxes of the picture business that a star who has taken the screen by storm should receive no salary for his services, and should have been made, not born.

      His exploits have brought in many thousands of pounds, though the star himself is just something out of an ink-pot—if you view him in a literal light, which I don’t. Mickey Mouse is a very real personality to me.

      It has been said that Mickey is the only star who satisfies high-brows, broad-brows and low-brows alike the world over. Well, I am proud...

    • Mickey and Minnie
      (pp. 89-92)
      E. M. Forster

      I am a film-fanned rather than a film-fan, and, oh, the things I have had to see and hear because other people wanted to! About once a fortnight a puff of wind raises me from the seat where I am meditating upon life or art, and wafts me in amiability’s name towards a very different receptacle. Call it a fauteuil. Here art is not, life not. Not happy, not unhappy, I sit in an up-to-date stupor, while the international effort unrolls. American women shoot the hippopotamus with eyebrows made of platinum. British ladies and gentlemen turn the movies into the...

    • Mickey Mouse’s Financial Career
      (pp. 93-104)
      Arthur Mann

      Newfound wealth, regardless of its source, is viewed with the same fact-distorting enthusiasm as that which greets a gold strike. News and rumors fly thick and fast, gathering exaggeration as one wild-eyed narrative whispers to another.

      The latest gold-strike gossip concerns Walt Disney, pied piper of the nation’s children—of the world’s children—and his supposed recordbreaking financial harvest from the popularity of his animated cartoon sound pictures. The contagious national enthusiasm over the Mickey Mouse films has given impetus to an erroneous belief that the creator of these quaint characters is gaining fabulous riches from the moviegoing public.


    • Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 105-115)
      Alva Johnston

      Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Mouse are the only universal characters that have ever existed. The greatest kings and conquerors, gods and devils, have by comparison been local celebrities. Mickey’s domain is today even more extensive than Chaplin’s. Charlie’s mustache, hat, pants, shoes and cane belong to western civilization and make him a foreigner in some regions. Mickey Mouse is not a foreigner in any part of the world.

      Mickey’s appeal extends to and beyond the frontiers of civilization. He has for example an Eskimo following in Alaska. Douglas Fairbanks on his world tour endeared himself to cannibals and headhunters by...

    • Mickey Mouse Makes the Britannica
      (pp. 116-118)
      New York Times

      The most significant item of the week’s film news was the announcement that Mickey Mouse had crashed the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The editors of that voluminous publication—according to United Artists—intend to present the history and mechanics of the animated cartoon in their next edition. Rather than keep all their subscribers on tenterhooks until it appears, they will issue in their September bulletin an article entitled “The Story of the Animated Cartoon; from the Phenakistoscope to Mickey Mouse.”

      The article was, or is being, prepared by Earl Theisen, honorary curator of motion pictures at the Los Angeles Museum, and will...

    • Mickey Mouse Emerges as Economist
      (pp. 119-125)
      L. H. Robbins

      New applause is heard for Mickey Mouse, riding high above the general acclaim for him that already rings throughout the earth. The fresh cheering is for Mickey the Big Business Man, the world’s super-salesman. He finds work for jobless folk. He lifts corporations out of bankruptcy. Wherever he scampers, here or overseas, the sun of prosperity breaks through the clouds.

      Cutting up on the screen in every clime, entertaining a million audiences a year in eighty-eight countries, Mickey Mouse is the best-known and most-popular international figure of his day. One touch of Mickey makes the whole world grin in a...

    • Mickey Mouse at the Gaumont-Palace
      (pp. 126-127)
      Jean Laury and Nicole Boré-Verrier

      At the Gaumont-Palace yesterday morning over five thousand children cheered “Mickey Mouse” and his father, Walt Disney. A full report on this gala affair, organized byLe Figaro, which was a complete success, appears in our movie column.

      The exploits of the famous mouse and the clever little pigs, the adventures of a boy and girl penguin and of the Goddess of Spring caused the beating of little hands and young hearts among a fresh new public, unrestrained in expressing its enthusiasm: Walt Disney, personally quite moved, was able to gauge the impact of his work and the popularity of...

    • Mickey Mouse Is 7 Years Old Today
      (pp. 128-130)
      Cholly Wood

      There is no better-known actor on the screen. His name, his face and his personality are better known than those of Clark Gable and Greta Garbo. His personal and public life are so closely merged that his innermost habits and thoughts are public property. His fame extends beyond the screen right into the homes and the private lives of the millions who see him perform.

      He is the most popular screen star ever to face a camera. Yet he has never asked for an increase in salary.

      He is, in short, that truly amazing phenomenon of modern life—an actor...

    • Fox, Disney Add to Museum Film Group
      (pp. 131-132)
      Motion Picture Daily

      Further additions to the collection of historic films being made by the Museum of Modern Art include a group of 13 subjects from Twentieth Century-Fox and a number of cartoons from Walt Disney.

      The Twentieth Century-Fox subjects presented by S. R. Kent, are: “A Fool There Was” (Theda Bara), 1914; “Carmen” (Theda Bara), 1915; “A Daughter of the Gods” (Annette Kellerman), 1916; “Cleopatra” (Theda Bara), 1917; “Riders of the Purple Sage,” 1918; “Sky High” (Tom Mix), 1921; “The Iron Horse,” 1924; “Three Bad Men,” 1926; “”Sunrise,” 1927; Movietone Newsreel (Mussolini, Shaw, Tilden), 1927; “Sex Life of the Polyp” (Benchley), 1926;...

  7. 4. Glory Days in Color, 1936–1939

    • [4. Introduction]
      (pp. 133-134)

      Praise and honors, public and private, some more glorious than others, continued to be heaped on Mickey and Walt in the second half of the thirties. In January 1936, the Associated Press informed the world that “the red ribbon of the French Legion of Honor arrived today for Walt Disney, producer of ‘Mickey Mouse.’” In a diary entry for December 20, 1937, cited by Esther Leslie in her bookHollywood Flatlands, the Nazi minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, wrote: “I have given twelve Mickey-Mouse-movies as a present for the Führer at Christmas! He is pleased about it. He is absolutely...

    • “Mickey Mouse” Is Eight Years Old: Disney’s Squeaky Star Played to 468,000,000 in 1935
      (pp. 135-140)
      Literary Digest

      Eight years ago this week, an unsuspecting audience sat in New York City’s Colony Theater viewing a movie romance entitled “Lonesome,” starring Barbara Kent and Glenn Tryon. As a filler, the management ran a short animated cartoon bearing the title “Steamboat Willie.” It introduced a shrill, capering India ink character billed asMickey Mouse. The audience expressed restrained approval, unaware that it was witnessing the beginning of a success story unparalleled in Hollywood history.

      That date was September 28, 1928. This week,Mickey Mousecelebrates his eighth birthday, friskily aware that he played to 468,000,000 paid admissions last year, that...

    • L’Affaire Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 141-145)
      Herbert Russell

      Now that that unreconstructed international rebel, Mickey Mouse, has been thrown out of Yugoslavia for conspiring against the throne—he together with the newspaper correspondent who rashly reported the plot—the expulsions from foreign countries of this arch-enemy of nations have risen to two. Hitler once barred him from Germany because Mickey was accompanied by a brigade of animals wearing Uhlan helmets, which was a reflection on the honor of the German Army and too serious to be passed over. Of course, Mickey was eventually pardoned, because not even dictators are completely immune to his spell; Mussolini loves him.


    • Walt Disney, M.S., M.A.
      (pp. 146-146)
      Art Digest

      In almost a bandwagon rush great American universities are hastening to confer academic degrees upon Walter Elias Disney, pictorial historian to Snow White and father of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Yale has just honored him with the degree of master of arts, two weeks after he was made a master of science by the University of California. To quote Prof. William Lyon Phelps of Yale, Disney was honored “for his feat of laboring like a mountain and bringing forth a mouse. With this mouse he conquered the world.”

      The citation said in part: “He has the originality characteristic of genius,...

    • Mickey Mouse Celebrates His Tenth Birthday . . . By Capturing a Giant
      (pp. 147-148)

      Mickey Mouse is back, with a feather in his hat. For months, Mickey has been taking it rather easy, not loafing, but chivalrously staying out of the spotlight as much as possible while the world was applauding his good friend, Snow White.

      Now, in return, for Mickey’s co-operation, his boss, Walt Disney, is giving him a giant to kill for a birthday celebration (above and next page). It’s Mickey’s tenth anniversary—in fact, it’s a double anniversary, since Mickey was born and became a movie star at the same time.

      Mickey’s first roles, back in 1928, were in “Plane Crazy”...

    • A Tale of Six
      (pp. 149-150)
      Harvard Crimson

      Five hundred disappointed lecture-goers were turned away yesterday afternoon from a Fogg lecture room in which Professor Robin Feild was extolling the merits of Mickey Mouse and associates. Each of the five hundred bore witness to the wide interest which has been evoked by the summary dismissal of the department of Fine Arts’ most popular professor. The spontaneous outburst of student indignation and the formation of a Fine Arts Concentrators’ committee to make formal protests are other danger signals indicating that the Feild Case is by no means closed. Much as it would like to, the department will find it...

  8. 5. World War II into the Seventies, 1941–1977

    • [5. Introduction]
      (pp. 151-154)

      During World War II, Mickey’s name and image—like scores of other Disney cartoon characters—supplied wry comfort to American and Allied servicemen: as insignia for military units, nicknames and emblems for ships, planes, sundry gear and devices (gas masks, bomb-release mechanisms on aircraft, etc.), and as the password for a major pre-D-Day invasion briefing on the south coast of England.*

      After the war, however, barely a decade after his triumphal turn inFantasia, Mickey’s on-screen career came to a halt. The last Mouse animated short to be made for thirty years,The Simple Things, was released in 1953. Shedding...

    • New British Army Slang Less Colorful Than Old
      (pp. 155-155)
      New York Times

      LONDON, April 5-This war is producing a new batch of army slang, though so far it is neither so picturesque nor so extensive as it was in 1914–1918. Many of the words are peculiar to certain units, and very few are yet in general use.

      The most universal expression—equivalent to the now obsolete “fed up,” is “browned off.” One stage further than “browned off” is “well baked.” “Rompers” is the army word for battle-dress; a truck, car or lorry is a “bug.” “On the peg” means being under charge for misdemeanor; a “regatta” is the cleaning and scrubbing...

    • “Mickey Mouse” Was Invasion Password
      (pp. 156-157)
      Johannesburg Sunday Times

      LONDON, Saturday.—Senior naval officers passing into a naval cinema at a southern port a few days before the invasion had to whisper furtively into the ear of the sentry the magic words “Mickey Mouse,” writes the “Sunday Times” correspondent.

      This was the password selected during the briefing of nearly 200 naval officers, most of whom are commanding ships and craft in the invasion.

      It was at this briefing that they learnt for the first time where the landings were to take place, and there was a buzz of surprise as an enormous map was unrolled at the back of...

    • That Million-Dollar Mouse
      (pp. 158-163)
      Frank S. Nugent

      LOS ANGELES. Twenty years ago a man labored and brought forth a mouse and the civilized world still hasn’t stopped applauding the miracle. Mickey Mouse is the goshdarndest single act of creation in the history of our civilization. He probably is more widely known than any President, King, artist, actor, poet, composer or tycoon who ever lived. The worlds that Alexander the Great conquered and Julius Caesar ruled were nutshell microcosms compared with that over which Mickey holds sway. His sovereignty is all but universal, yet he is as American as Kansas City; he was born on a westbound Pullman...

    • What Mickey Means to Me
      (pp. 164-167)
      Walt Disney

      Mickey Mouse to me is a symbol of independence. He was a means to an end. He popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when the business fortunes of my brother, Roy, and myself were at lowest ebb.

      Born of necessity, the little fellow literally freed us of immediate worry, provided the means for expanding our organization to its present dimensions and for extending the medium of cartoon animation toward new entertainment levels.

      His first actual screen appearance was in 1928 at the old...

    • Mickey Mouse and How He Grew
      (pp. 168-177)
      Irving Wallace

      Not so many years ago there was a lady scribbler in Hollywood who made her living ghostwriting a monthly gossip column called Mickey Mouse’s Diary. She pretended she was actually Mickey Mouse, relating day-to-day adventures, to the delight of all juveniles under sixty who read the popular comic book in which the column appeared. A condition of her job, however, was that she submit all copy, before it was published, to the Walt Disney publicity department for approval. In one of her monthly whimsies, the lady scribbler, playing Mickey Mouse, wrote:

      “This afternoon, I went to a birthday party for...

    • I Live with a Genius—a Conversation with Mrs. Walt Disney (excerpt)
      (pp. 178-180)
      Lillian Disney and Isabella Taves

      Right here I want to say another thing about Mickey Mouse. Stories have been printed about how Walt got interested in mice back on the farm in Marceline, Missouri, when he was a kid. Newspaper articles have told how Walt used to have a pet mouse named Mickey, which lived in his wastebasket during the free-lance cartoon days in Kansas City. Walt loves all animals—he won’t even let the gardener and me put out traps for the little ones that are garden pests—but when he created Mickey Mouse there was no symbolism or background for the idea. He...

    • Of Mouse and Man, or Mickey Reaches 25: Time Has Slowed His Step, But Walt Disney’s Remarkable Rodent Has Come Smiling through Depression, Wars, A-bombs and H-Bombs
      (pp. 181-184)
      Barbara Berch Jamison

      HOLLYWOOD. This week Mickey Mouse will be 25 years old, and although the average life expectancy of a mouse is four years, millions of Mickey’s friends the world over—among them children, kings, college presidents and African bushmen—will not feel at all absurd to be wishing him a happy birthday. For Mickey has come through a quarter of a century of prosperity, flappers, depression, zoot suits, war, inflation and atom bombs the same skinny-shouldered, freckle-voiced, unmatchable little dandy he was the day he was born in an abandoned Hollywood real estate office and, according to Walt Disney, the man...

    • Vox Bop (excerpt)
      (pp. 185-185)
      Maurice A. Crane

      A considerable amount of anything isbogoobs(e.g., ‘It’s a mickey band,’ but there’s bogoobs bread’), quite obviously frombeaucoup. Incidentally,a mickeyorMickey Mouseband is not merely a ‘pop tune’ band, as Gold indicated, but the kind of pop band that sounds as if it is playing background for an animated cartoon. Listen to Lawrence Welk, if you will, and discover how apt the expression is. (The term, which has been around almost as long as Mickey Mouse himself, has also come into common parlance in another sense at Michigan State, where a ‘Mickey Mouse course’ means...

    • . . . on the Navy
      (pp. 186-188)
      Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr.

      MILWAUKEE—To many Navy men, the term “Mickey Mouse” sometimes means laughter—but not at a cartoon character. Sometimes it isn’t a laughing matter.

      Who doesn’t know that unnecessary or demeaning regulations are “Mickey Mouse”?

      If a sailor working frantically to repair urgently needed equipment must change into and out of another uniform in order to have his meal in the mess hall, that’s Mickey Mouse.

      If sailors are ordered to slap paint over rusted decks to make the ship look temporarily good for visiting brass, that’s Mickey Mouse.

      If sailors are ordered to do dirty work, not in dungarees...

  9. 6. The Nostalgia Begins, 1978–1989

    • [6. Introduction]
      (pp. 189-190)

      Mickey’s fiftieth anniversary in 1978 provoked much hoopla, and broad-based stirrings of nostalgia for the Mouse of yore. A series of month-long screenings of his cartoons at MoMA (“Modern Museum Celebrates Mickey”*) was a major factor in his resurrection. That resurgence was evident as far afield as France, where a collection of Mouse memorabilia went on display at the Paris department store, Au Printemps, as noted here in my item on Mickey and Charles de Gaulle as iconic effigies of their respective countries.*

      In 1948 and 1950, the proto-Pop English artist Eduardo Paolozzi had included vintage clippings of...

    • Growing Up with Mickey
      (pp. 191-194)
      Maurice Sendak

      This year Mickey Mouse and I will be celebrating our 50th birthdays. We shared, at least for our first decade, much more than a common first initial; it was the best of relationships and one of the few genuine joys of my childhood in Brooklyn during the early’ 30s.

      Those were the Depression years and we had to make do. Making do—for kids, at least—was mostly a matter of comic books and movies. Mickey Mouse, unlike the great gaggle of child movie stars of that period, did not make me feel inferior. Perhaps it was typical for kids...

    • A Mouse for All Seasons
      (pp. 195-199)
      John Culhane

      Mickey Mouse has always been a star. When Mickey first played New York City’s Music Hall, Cole Porter would bring his dinner guests there just to see the cartoon. In 1935, Arturo Toscanini asked thatThe Band Concertbe stopped and re-run because he so enjoyed the Mousetro’s sly caricature.

      Arguably the best-known imaginary creature in history, Mickey Mouse will be 50 years old on November 18. From poor kids to presidents and once-and-future kings, millions have given their hearts to this cartoon personality.The New York Timesreported in 1935 that “the King of England won’t go to the...

    • Modern Museum Celebrates Mickey
      (pp. 200-203)
      Anna Quindlen

      Here’s to a character who’s been a superstar for half a century and only gotten sweeter, who’s always worn the same unassuming garb and simple smile. Here’s to a guy who made the big time but always kept the old friends and never deserted the gal who stood by him in his spaghetti days. Here’s to an actor who’s 50 years old but hasn’t lost his hair, his teeth, or his recognition factor.

      Happy birthday, Mickey Mouse.

      Yes, the four-foot-tall mouse who has contributed to the fortunes of the Ingersoll-Waterbury watch company, Annette Funicello and a guy named Disney is...

    • Le Grand Charlie et le Petit Mickey
      (pp. 204-206)
      Garry Apgar

      Prominent proboscis aside, what on earth could Mickey Mouse and Charles de Gaulle possibly have in common? De Gaulle, after all, was on record as a Tintin fan, whilst what the Mouse thought of the General—well—God only knows.

      Still, they do have this in common: they both became national symbols. De Gaulle has come to stand for “une certaine idée de la France,” while, like it or not, Mickey Mouse (like Uncle Sam or Coca-Cola) is America. Quite coincidentally, 1978 is a landmark year for them both. It’s the Mouse’s 50th birthday and it’s the 20th anniversary of...

    • Mickey Mouse Meets Konrad Lorenz
      (pp. 207-214)
      Stephen Jay Gould

      Age often turns fire to placidity. Lytton Strachey, in his incisive portrait of Florence Nightingale, writes of her declining years:

      Destiny, having waited very patiently, played a cruel trick on Miss Nightingale. The benevolence and public spirit of that long life had only been equalled by its acerbity. Her virtue had dwelt in hardness. . . . And now the sarcastic years brought the proud woman her punishment. She was not to die as she had lived. The sting was to be taken out of her; she was to be made soft; she was to be reduced to compliance and...

    • We Are Mickey: Meet the Men behind the Mouse
      (pp. 215-216)
      Charles Solomon

      Mickey Mouse’s familiar personality is actually a mosaic. Each of the animators, artists, writers and voice actors who worked with him has seen him a little differently and added a little of his own vision to the world’s most recognized cartoon character.

      Wayne Allwine: “The tendency to make him too nice has limited him. But he’s an actor, and he’s capable of doing whatever he’s given to do—provided it’s kept in the context of what Mickey would and wouldn’t do. I’ve had people ask to hear him swear, but I’d never do that—he’s too special. With the prospect...

    • Mickey Mouse’s Age
      (pp. 217-218)
      Lawrence Van Gelder

      By now, is there anyone from the Hudson to the Dnieper and beyond who doesn’t know that today is Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday?

      But how do we know?

      Meet David R. Smith.

      The 48-year-old Mr. Smith bears the title of archivist of the Walt Disney Company, a position he has held since 1970. He established the archives during what he thought was a two-month leave of absence from his job as librarian at the University of California at Los Angeles.

      These days, Mr. Smith presides over a six-member department occupying 8,000 square feet of space—about the size of three...

    • The Masks of Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 219-230)
      Robert W. Brockway

      From time to time in his later years, Walt Disney tried to explain the enduring popularity of Mickey Mouse. The animated cartoon character he created in 1928 always baffled him. Mickey continues to baffle critics today. Over the years since Mickey Mouse first appeared, just before the Wall Street Crash, he has undergone a series of metamorphoses, and has actually grown up with the generation born during the teens and twenties. He was still popular when Disney died in 1966, and his fiftieth birthday was celebrated by national festivities including a black tie party at the Library of Congress attended...

  10. 7. Into a New Millennium, 1991–2012

    • [7. Introduction]
      (pp. 231-232)

      There has been a boom over the past quarter-century in research and writings about Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, with a noticeable uptick in contributions from Academe. As a result, over three-fifths of the principal bibliography at the back of this book date from 1991 or later. None of which, incidentally, reflects an almost decade-long proliferation of Internet activity. The best of the Web in terms of material relating to Walt and his flagship character are probably a pair of Internet sites managed, respectively, by Michael Barrier and Didier Ghez: MichaelBarrier. com, subtitled “Exploring the World of Animated Films and...

    • The Mystery of Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 233-241)
      John Updike

      It’s all in the ears. When Mickey Mouse was born, in 1927, the world of early cartoon animation was filled with two-legged zoomorphic humanoids, whose strange half-black faces were distinguished one from another chiefly by the ears. Felix the Cat had pointed triangular ears and Oswald the Rabbit—Walt Disney’s first successful cartoon creation, which he abandoned when his New York distributor, Charles Mintz, attempted to swindle him—had long floppy ears, with a few notches in the end to suggest fur. Disney’s Oswald films, and the Alice animations that precede them, had mice in them, with linear limbs, wiry...

    • Mickey, A Mouse of Influence around the World
      (pp. 242-244)
      Marshall Fishwick

      Join in the celebration for the 65th birthday of one of the best-loved Americans. But don’t ask him to retire at 65. He’s too busy conquering France.

      I speak of Mickey Mouse, and the Euro Disneyland that has become the new rage of Europe. It opened last month, and is fast becoming the continent’s leading tourist attraction.

      Is that any way for an aging mouse to act? But then, Mickey never ages. He is our Peter Pan, our perennial dream and our hope of perpetual childhood. His mission is to keep us young.

      Like many folk heroes, Mickey’s birth on...

    • The Mickey in Macy’s Window: Childhood, Consumerism, and Disney Animation
      (pp. 245-260)
      Richard deCordova

      Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse films emerged against the backdrop of a complex set of debates about children’s leisure and the role of the cinema in children’s lives. During the late 1920s and early 1930s the cinema’s address to children was contested ground and a matter of frenzied concern. Reformers denounced the movies’ influence on children and mounted well-organized efforts across the country to regulate and control this aspect of children’s leisure. One particularly important aspect of these efforts involved the creation and supervision of a canon of films for children. Reformers asked whether a given film addressed the young moviegoer...

    • An American Icon Scampers In for a Makeover
      (pp. 261-266)
      John Canemaker

      The rumors were true. Mickey has had a mouse-lift. The beloved 67-year-old star took the big step in Paris at a Disney animation studio where he was filming “Runaway Brain,” his first cartoon short in more than 40 years. Although public relations executives at the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, Calif., were hush-hush about the seven-minute film, to be coupled with “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court,” a Disney feature opening at theaters on Friday, they have now confirmed that audiences will see a refurbished rodent.

      Nothing radical, mind you. Having learned from the past, the Disney artists didn’t dare...

    • Who Is He?
      (pp. 267-273)
      Edward Lewine

      Mickey Mouse has earned fame and fortune, but there have always been those who think of him as a silly little rodent, a nebbish, a lightweight. Until recently, it would have seemed odd to associate him with New York. What would America’s biggest, sweatiest, edgiest city have in common with a small, clean, placid cartoon mouse from California?

      That was then. Nowadays, the mouse’s ears are casting big round shadows across the city. In the past few years, the Walt Disney Company, which Mickey Mouse symbolizes, has opened four retail stores, held a film premiere in Central Park and a...

    • The Meaning of Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 274-287)
      Garry Apgar

      In purely biographical or psychological terms, Mickey Mouse was in many ways the fictional extension and alter ego of his creator, Walt Disney, who provided his squeaky voice on film for years. However, Mickey soon took on a life wholly his own. Walt’s signature character eventually became not only a Disney corporate symbol but would serve as a generic emblem of cartoons as a whole. In France, for instance, the termpetits micquetsis sometimes used to designate any form of cartoons or comic-book art. Of course, there is much more to the phenomenon that is Mickey Mouse. When his...

    • Through the Years We’ll All Be Friends: The “Mickey Mouse Club,” Consumerism, and the Cultural Consensus
      (pp. 288-298)
      Barbara J. Coleman

      In January 1967Timemagazine published its “Man of the Year” issue: the distinction went to the entire postwar Baby Boom generation of which Stephen Davis was a member. Focusing its attention on the white, affluent suburban teenager,Timecharacterized the boomers as “cushioned by unprecedented affluence . . . [with] a sense of economic security unmatched in history.”² From the very start, the Baby Boom generation has been equated with affluence and a bright economic future. Born after World War II, they were acknowledged by advertisers as both a dynamic social force and an economic one. Even before these...

    • “New” Mickey: Big Cheese of “MouseWorks”: Animators Look to the Past to Liven Up the Personality of Disney’s Star Rodent for a Cartoon Series Starting Saturday
      (pp. 299-302)
      Charles Solomon

      The idea of Mickey Mouse, who starred in some of the most beautifully animated cartoons in the history of the medium, appearing in limited television animation sounds almost blasphemous. But “Disney’s Mickey MouseWorks,” the new series from Walt Disney Television Animation premiering Saturday at 11 a.m. on ABC, has a bright, fresh look, and while no one would mistake these cartoons for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in “Fantasia,” they look downright lavish by TV standards.

      One of the toughest problems the “MouseWorks” artists faced was figuring out just who Mickey Mouse is in 1999. Mickey may be the most famous animated...

    • M-I-C-K-E-Y: He’s the Leader of the Brand
      (pp. 303-307)
      Richard Verrier

      Mickey Mouse, once described by Walt Disney as “a little fellow trying to do the best he could,” is now being called on to do even better.

      Trying to turn around its flagging merchandising operation, Walt Disney Co. is planting Mickey’s vintage visage in some hip new places and planning to roll out the mouse in an aggressive marketing campaign centered on his 75th birthday.

      On its face, using Mickey Mouse to full effect as a marketing tool would seem a no-brainer for Disney executives. After all, over the last three-quarters of a century, Mickey has sustained himself as one...

    • Disney Presents Mickey Mouse, Again: Media Giant Pushes to Make Cartoon Rodent Hip
      (pp. 308-311)
      Frank Ahrens

      GLENDALE, Calif.—If you thought Mickey Mouse was already ubiquitous, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

      The sainted and globally famous four-fingered trademark of the Walt Disney Co. is about to become the centerpiece of a movie, retail, publishing, video and television campaign aimed at amplifying its marketplace presence.

      This year is Mickey’s 75th birthday, and the Disney brass is determined not to let the cheerful geriatric rodent fade from public consciousness, the victim of company marketers too afraid to exercise the mouse’s branding power for fear of cheapening Walt Disney’s most important creation.

      On Wednesday at a theater in this...

    • Can Disney Build a Better Mickey Mouse?
      (pp. 312-319)
      Jesse Green

      “He was the only time I was happy,” said Maurice Sendak.

      Mr. Sendak, who based the character of Max in his children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” on Mickey Mouse, is an exact contemporary of the cartoon rodent: both were born in 1928. “I was around 6 when I first saw him,” he said. “It filled me with joy. I think it was those primary colors so vivid and pure, taken up with the most incredibly beautiful animation, reminding you of Fred Astaire. Oh! And his character was the kind I wished I’d had as a child: brave and...

    • Secrets of Steamboat Willie
      (pp. 320-330)
      Jim Korkis

      Walt Disney was fond of saying that it should never be forgotten that “it was all started by a mouse.” Mickey Mouse was indeed the cornerstone of an entertainment empire that flourished during Walt’s lifetime, and still flourishes today.

      In the wake of the seventy-fifth anniversary ofSteamboat Willieand Mickey, celebrated in 2003, it also should not be forgotten that Mickey’s first animated cartoon single-handedly revived an art form that was stagnating. For that reason alone, the story of howSteamboat Williewas made is well worth exploring.

      In early February 1928, Walt Disney and his wife, Lillian, journeyed...

    • More Secrets of Steamboat Willie
      (pp. 331-338)
      Jim Korkis

      Most articles refer toSteamboat Willieas a parody of Buster Keaton’s last independent silent comedy,Steamboat Bill Jr., released earlier that same year. However, other than the fact that both films feature a steamboat, and that Keaton’s character is nicknamed Willie, the cartoon makes no direct references toSteamboat Bill Jr., unlikeGallopin’ Gaucho, which parodies some of the action from the Douglas Fairbanks silent action picture,The Gaucho. No doubt Disney believed that audiences would associate the title with the Keaton classic, but direct parody was not intended. In the cartoon, the opening music was a popular song...

    • Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 339-347)
      M. Thomas Inge

      There is no more widely known an iconic figure out of American culture in the world at large than Mickey Mouse. So successful have been the marketing strategies of the Walt Disney Company, so widely distributed have been the films and comics, and so strongly appealing is the image of the mouse to children and adults alike that there are few small corners of the earth where Mickey is not instantly recognizable, if by nothing more than a set of round ears. Crude reproductions of Mickey and his girl friend Minnie Mouse appear on the walls of bus stops and...

    • Mock of Mickey Is Pure Evil: Disney’s Daughter Rips Hamas over Monster Mouse
      (pp. 348-349)
      Bill Hutchinson

      The only surviving child of Walt Disney is calling Hamas “pure evil” for making a mockery of Mickey Mouse by turning the lovable icon into a propaganda tool for hate.

      Diane Disney Miller said she’s disgusted that a ripoff of her father’s star cartoon character is being used on a new Hamas TV show to encourage Palestinian children to take up arms against Israel and America.

      “Of course I feel personal about Mickey Mouse, but it could be Barney as well,” Miller, 73, told the Daily News yesterday in a phone interview.

      She was more horrified the terror group was...

    • Mickey Mouse Appears on Poster Atop a Nude Woman’s Body beneath a Swastika
      (pp. 350-351)
      Sean Alfano

      Of all the places Mickey Mouse’s face has appeared, attached to a nude woman’s body beneath a giant swastika on a poster in Poland has to be a new one.

      An Italian artist’s shocking outdoor exhibit in the city of Poznan aptly titled “NaziSexyMouse,” has caused an uproar throughout the country, which was ravaged by the Nazis during World War II.

      “This art provocation is a form of violence against the sensitivity of many people,” said Norbert Napieraj, a Poznan city council member who wants the poster, which has been on display since June, banned.

      The artist, Max Papeschi, explains...

    • Egyptian Christian Faces Trial for Insulting Islam
      (pp. 352-354)
      Sarah El Deeb

      CAIRO (AP)—A prominent Christian Egyptian media mogul faces trial on a charge of insulting Islam, lawyers said Monday, based on his relaying a cartoon on his Twitter account.

      The case dates back to June, when Naguib Sawiris posted a cartoon showing a bearded Mickey Mouse and veiled Minnie. He made a public apology after Islamists complained, but his action set off a boycott of his telecom company and other outlets. He said it was supposed to be a joke and apologized, but lawyer Mamdouh Ismail filed a formal complaint against him.

      After investigation, the prosecution set the trial for...

  11. Appendices

    • APPENDIX A. Le Cinéma (excerpt)
      (pp. 355-357)
      Pierre Scize
    • APPENDIX B. Un langage international: le dessin animé (excerpt)
      (pp. 358-359)
      Maurice Bessy
    • APPENDIX C. Zu Micki Maus
      (pp. 360-360)
      Walter Benjamin
    • APPENDIX D. Sie sehen Micky Mäuse tanzen . . .
      (pp. 361-361)
    • APPENDIX E. Mickey Mouse
      (pp. 362-363)
      Diego Rivera
    • APPENDIX F. Mickey Mouse au Gaumont-Palace
      (pp. 364-364)
      Jean Laury
    (pp. 365-374)
    (pp. 375-391)
    (pp. 392-392)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 393-417)