The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur,
of his Noble Knights of the Round Table, Their Marvellous Enquests and Adventures the Achieving of the San Greal, and in the End, Le Morte Darthur, with the Dolorous Death and Departing out of This World of Them All. The text as written by Sir Thomas Malory and imprinted by William Caxton at Westminster the Year MCCCCLXXXV and now spelled in modern style. With an introduction by Professor Rhys and embellished with many original designs by Aubrey Beardsley.Westminster, J. M. Dent, 1893-4 Stock Code: 136961
NotesFirst Beardsley edition, in the original parts, number 70 of 300 deluxe copies on Dutch handmade paper, from a total edition of 1,800. The book was issued in 12 parts in wrappers, with the purchaser given the choice of sending it back to the publisher, who bound them in vellum or cloth, or to a binder of their own.
In 1892, seeking to emulate the books of the Kelmscott Press, John M. Dent commissioned the 20-year-old Beardsley to produce this edition, work that took the young artist 18 months to complete. "In Le Morte d'Arthur Beardsley learnt his job, but the result is no bungling student's work... If he had never illustrated another book, this edition of Morte d'Arthur could stand as a monument of decorative book illustration" (Lewis, pp. 148-9). The work was first published in 12 monthly magazine instalments between June 1893, and mid-1894. "Aubrey Beardsley's Morte Darthur was one of the most original and certainly one of the most controversial of the nineteenth-century artistic reinterpretations of Malory" which "established Beardsley as the voice of the 1890s" (Tepa Lupack, Chapter 4). "Often shockingly overt in their sexuality and eroticism, the illustrations rejected the aesthetic of the Pre-Raphaelites who were Beardsley's original mentors and offered a revisionist and parodic treatment of their medievalism. Ultimately, Beardsley went far beyond his original intention to 'flabbergast the bourgeois' of his day; he also challenged generations of readers and artists to view Arthurian society through his own modernist lens" (ibid.). La Morte Darthur was an immediate sensation upon publication.
2 volumes in 12 parts. Original pictorial blue-grey wrappers, fore and bottom edges untrimmed, partly uncut. Housed in custom blue cloth chemises and blue quarter morocco and cloth slipcases.
With photogravure frontispieces on India paper, 18 full-page wood engravings with tissue guards (5 double-page), numerous text illustrations and approximately 350 designs for chapter headings and borders (foliate and historiated) all by Aubrey Beardsley p
With the leather bookplate of Haven O'More to the chemise of the first three parts. Spines a little darkened, wrappers a little soiled and frayed, plates a little browned with some offsetting, else a fine set.
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