3: Illustration, Władysław T. Benda's “They were permitted to drink deep of all the oblivion in the world,” 1911.
As a young man in the late 19th century, Benda immigrated to the United States from his native Poland. This illustration is one of five that appeared alongside an essay depicting film as a great escape from the squalor and tumult of everyday life in New York (excerpted in the following resource). All of the drawings depict scenes at the cinema and in the lives of its working-class, chiefly immigrant audiences.
Suggested activity: Discuss the picture and its caption, reflecting on what they might tell us about early 20th-century attitudes toward the movies and motivations for flocking to them. What does the caption even mean?
Source: Władysław T. Benda, “They were permitted to drink deep of all the oblivion in the world,” in Mary Heaton Vorse, “Some Picture Show Audiences,” The Outlook, June 24, 1911, 444. Retrieved from http://www.unz.org/Pub/Outlook-1911jun24-00441, accessed February 22, 2016.