Sunday, May 28, 2017

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 213: Le Morte d'Arthur, by Sir Thomas Malory

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

*Late Edition*
This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, 
if available, on their 
very talented creators!

Here's my choice for this week!

Le Morte d'Arthur
Thomas Malory
B&N Leather-bound Edition, 896  pages
Sterling Publishing
June 7, 2015
   Classics, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

From the very first time I encountered the King Arthur legends, back when I was a sixth-grade student, I have loved them all! (Of course, back then I read an abridged version -- Sidney Lanier's The Boy's King Arthur. Certain things were not proper for a young child to know about....)

Around the same time I read the Sidney Lanier adaptation, I also read, and ADORED, Disney's The Sword In The Stone. Years later, I also read, and LOVED, T.H. White's The Once and Future King, which Disney used as a basis for his own adaptation. So I've been an Arthurian fan for most of my life!

I have never read Malory's version, incredibly enough -- at least, not completely. I think I did read some excerpts in high school. So of course I'd like to peruse it, since it's the basis for all and any subsequent Arthurian tales!

This particular edition is lovely in the extreme! And I am the VERY proud owner of a copy!! In fact, I bought it at my local, beautiful, two-floor Barnes and Noble store this past Friday evening!!!! YAAAAAY!!! I am ABSOLUTELY ECSTATIC!!!! And it was on SALE, fellow book lovers!!! Yup!! The store had several of its collectible editions at 50% off!!!! This book was originally priced at $20.00, plus tax. I had been wistfully eying it for quite some time, too..... So, when I saw that it was on sale, I decided to snap it up ASAP!!! And hey, I only paid a total of $10.70 for it, including tax!!!!! (*dancing an Irish jig around the living room*!!!!)

Now, as for the moral of this little bookish tale: "Thou shalt be aware AT ALL TIMES of all and sundry book sales at thy local B&N!!" 

So....on to my usual cover analysis!

Well.....after all of the above, you can all see that I have EVERY reason to be ecstatic about this particular volume! It is just EXQUISITELY BEAUTIFUL. I could end my post right here, because, well, it's SO obvious that this is a TREASURE! I still can't believe I didn't pay that much for it! Perhaps, years from now, it will be worth a fortune. But dearest readers, I shall NEVER part with it!! Lol.

The cover includes artwork by one of my favorite book illustrators -- Aubrey Beardsley. He is responsible for the GORGEOUS stylized design which frames the central picture. That picture is the work of Howard Pyle. 

Both of these illustrators lived in the 19th century. What they both have in common is a very rich, imaginative style that lends itself PERFECTLY to fantasy works. However, there are some differences between them. Pyle primarily illustrated books for young people, whereas Beardsley's work has certain decadent, erotic elements that are, of course, not suitable for works aimed at children and young people. I don't like ALL of Beardsley's work myself; at least, not the work imbued with erotic elements. But Beardsley has such a command of line and overall design, I can't help but admire him while not favoring his more scandalous designs. He was very influential in the development of the Art Nouveau style.

In the Beardsley illustration below, you can see the very same beautiful, flowing design that appears on the book cover. In both cases, this design frames a picture of people  and/or an event in the story. Interestingly, the design moves from right to left in this illustration, while its direction has been reversed on the book cover.

"How Sir Bedivere Cast the Sword
'Excalibur' into the Water"
(from Le Morte d'Arthur, by Malory)
Aubrey Beardsly, 1894

The work of these two artists has been perfectly combined on this cover! Pyle's illustration, which has a fantastical, medieval flavor (this particular one also has a more adult flavor), is beautifully paired with Beardsley's flowing Art Nouveau frame! A double decorative border has been added to the top and bottom of the cover, as well, and the whole thing carries over to the spine and back cover. You can see this in the picture below.

These decorative borders are most likely the work of Patrice Kaplan, the cover designer. I assume that the shape in the middle of the cover, with the medieval calligraphy for the title and author's name, is also the work of this highly talented designer. It perfectly matches the work of the other two artists!

The inside of the book also displays Beardsley's work; every chapter beginning is adorned with his elegant line designs. The book also features several illustrations by yet another famous 19th-century artist -- Arthur Rackham. He specialized in book illustration, creating many beautiful works with fantasy themes.

I should not neglect to mention this cover's background color; it is a deep olive green which reminds me of a richly verdant forest. This ties in just right with the fantasy theme! 

The name of the cover designer is Patrice Kaplan. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the School of Visual Arts, in New York City. She has been the Designer/Art Dierctor for Sterling Publishing (an imprint of Random House) since 2005. According to LinkedIn, she is "responsible for art directing and designing Barnes and Noble's proprietary classic leather-bound books and Signature Edition books." She has also worked for Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins. 

In 2012, Kaplan won first place in the category of Hardcover Children's Picture Book Series at the New York Book Show, for her Barnes and Noble Classic Children's Leather Editions.

Online Links

What do you think of 
this week's cover?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!


  1. These are such impressive edition. The art work is stunning.

    The black and white work so well in that Beardsley illustration. One would expect color illustrations might work better for such scenes but this illustration is near perfect.

    This book is something that I would like to own. I have a fantasy of owning a library filled with such high quality editions. You really got a great deal on it.

    I also have not read Malory but I would really to.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      Yeah, it's truly breathtaking!! Glad you like it, as well!!

      One of the things I love about Beardsley's work is how beautiful and elegant it is, and he uses ONLY black and white! And you're right -- one would expect a color illustration to be more effective, but this one certainly does convey the enchantment of the scene!

      If you want to own this book, RUSH over to your nearest B&N!! Maybe it's on sale at 50% off in your area, too!! And yes, this is a really GREAT deal!!

      I LOVE your fantasy!! I do have several of these GORGEOUS B&N collectible editions. However, I'm not interested in collecting ALL of them. One of the volumes in the collection is "Dracula". UGH. Not interested! Another is Ann Rice's "Vampire Chronicles", which is the complete series. I don't like her vamps at all, though. From what I've heard, they're NOT like Edward Cullen in any respect whatsoever! In other words, they're more like the traditional evil vamps.

      Yet another volume I'm not interested in acquiring is the collected works of H.P. Lovecraft. I know you're a fan of this writer, so you should check this out. Me, I'll DEFINITELY pass on this one!

      Last night, while looking for a good picture of the Malory book to include in this post, I visited the B&N website. It turns out that they have these fabulous sale prices there, too!! WOW!! So, if your local Barnes & Noble doesn't have this sale, or there's no store near you, just go online!

      This work by Malory is dependent upon legends circulating at the time. I think another work, "The Mabinogion", was also a source. But Malory gave the stories his own unique spin. I think he also added a tale or two of his own.

      Thanks for the great comment!! Hope you guys are having a GREAT Memorial Day weekend!! <3 :)

  2. We have this book on our shelf as well, but we haven't read this particular version yet! This cover is absolutely STUNNING, though; and we just love your analysis of it, as always. We always look forward to your wonderful Shelf Candy Saturday posts so much, Maria! Oh, and when we come to visit you, we are definitely checking out that two-floor Barnes & Noble! Thank you for the wonderful post, sweet friend *BIG TACKLE HUGS* <3 <3 <3

    1. Hi, Michele & Mckenzie!!

      Ooooh, you have this book, as well?! AWESOME!! I LOVE the stories of King Arthur, and can't believe I haven't read this book yet, as it's the basis for the other two versions I have mentioned in my post.

      Yes, this cover is indeed STUNNING!! I'm SO HAPPY I own this book!!!!

      Thank you SO MUCH for your compliment on my SCS posts!! I GREATLY enjoy creating them, and it's so very nice when they're so nicely appreciated!! <3 <3 <3

      You're coming to visit me?! For REAL?! WOWZA!!!! *dances around the living room three times* We can have SO much fun!!! And yes, you both need to check out that two-floor Barnes & Noble!! You'll LOVE it!!!!

      Thank you for ALWAYS leaving such WONDERFUL, POSITIVE, JOYFUL comments!!! You guys are SO SPECIAL!!! BIG TACKLE HUGS BACK!!!!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)


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