Saturday, July 23, 2011

Edmund Dulac's Fairy tale forte

In continuing my previews of the upcoming Calla releases, we are brought to an Edmund Dulac's illustrated edition—The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales, retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. Quite a while ago, I spent some time on VIEW looking at two of the "edges" of Dulac's range- his more sophisticated works, and the Alphabet book he did early in his career. As a subject, The French fairy tales collected here are much more to the heart of Dulac's work, maybe only Arabian Nights material being more centric. This is considered by most to be among his best works, and with 30 full-page plates, it's hard to not find a few that are really special. Shown here, some of my favorites, from (Top to bottom) The frontispiece, from "The Sleeping Beauty," one from "Bluebeard," where Dulac let his love for Arabian themes come through—Two plates from "Cinderella," which as depicted here have a solidly French approach, and lastly a plate from "Beauty and the Beast," which may be one of Dulac's best-known fairy images.

Dulac was French-born, and likely would have been familiar with some of these tales from his own youth. Regardless of his history with the tale, it is quite evident there was a real passion put into the illustrations, they succeed on so many levels.

There are tales here that nearly all of us are familiar with—mostly due to the saturation our culture has with animated films—but there are also some stories which we may not be as quick to remember and are well worth revisiting. Quiller-Couch was quite an authority on writing and on children's stories in his day, and a solid writer on his own, to boot.

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