Monday, 15 June 2009

The Woodcuts of Simon Brett

There is a lot of received wisdom in the publishing industry about what does and doesn't sell:

* Short stories don't sell.

* Translations don't sell.

* Poetry doesn't sell.

* Slim books don't sell.

Thus, a slender book of translated Russian short stories in verse is an obvious money-spinner. Fortunately, publisher David R. Godine ignored the financial side of things, and put out Antony Wood's translations of a number of Alexander Pushkin's narrative poems, The Gypsies.

This gorgeous little book features a number of woodcuts by engraver Simon Brett. Here's a sample (click for a bigger version) from 'The Golden Cockerel'.

Brett is great. He's done a lot of work in the past for the Folio Society; here's a selection.

For George Eliot's Middlemarch:

Marcus Aurelius's Meditations:

Aristotle's Ethics:

Cicero's On the Good Life:

Lucretius's On the Nature of Things:

John Keats (soon to be cinematically fucked up by Jane Campion!):

Henry Fielding's Amelia:

and Legends of the Ring:

* * *

Further reading: a different set of Pushkin illustrations, including Ivan Bilibin on 'The Golden Cockerel'; plus the woodcut geniuses Lynd Ward and Fritz Eichenberg.


Alan said...

Man, the philosopher covers are absolutely stunning – thank you for posting them. How large are the books? It's hard to tell from the images and the Folio Society website doesn't say.

JRSM said...

A bit bigger than the standard hardback (about 1-2" taller), and in a sturdy slipcase.