The Folio Society

Folio Friday: The Thomas Hardy Collection

This week, I’m excited to share with you all another new selection from the September catalog of The Folio Society. As many of you know, I’m a devoted fan of The Folio Society editions of classic literature, and the three I received so generously from the publisher have done nothing but encourage my adoration. This week, I want to highlight their new THOMAS HARDY COLLECTION.

I’m drawn in by the incredible cover art and the interior illustrations that The Folio Society are known for, and one  thing I truly appreciate about their editions is the thought and design they put into their sturdy slipcovers. The fact that TFS thinks not just the artwork for the book, but also its display case, is a major collecting consideration. I was fortunate enough to get a copy of JUDE THE OBSCURE, but I cannot wait to get my hands on the entire collection, considering how much I adored The Mayor of Casterbridge and Far From the Madding Crowd. Here are the details:

The Thomas Hardy Collection:

Far From the Madding Crowd, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure

Illustrated with wood engravings by Peter Reddick

‘Hardy saw the passion in the lives of ordinary country people: shepherds, milkmaids, village musicians, and expressed it with great power and empathy’ – Telegraph

The text for the Folio Society’s Thomas Hardy collection of four of his greatest Wessex novels is drawn from that of the authoritative Wessex Edition of 1912, with a few minor corrections subsequently requested by the author. Each includes Hardy’s original preface and a map of Wessex, the county that he created and where he set these novels, is featured on the end papers.

Each book contains over 30 wood engravings by Peter Reddick, who has recreated Hardy’s rural vision in his work. Reddick’s corn-dolly motifs appear on the cloth binding and the slipcase, which is made from Fragrance of Grass paper, created using an ancient Chinese paper-making method that results in a unique appearance and texture.

Hardy’s Wessex novels are among the finest examples of naturalism, a kind of realism influenced by scientific observation. His extensive  research– keeping newspaper clippings and ‘facts’ notebooks – is what makes the idyllic Wessex county with its evocative descriptions of landscapes, wildlife and local tradespeople so believable.

Hardy offers no prescription for carefree rural living in these books. In Tess of the d’Urbervilles, the stunning settings offset the misery that Tess endures simply to get by. While in Jude the Obscure, despite his best efforts Jude cannot rise above his humble beginnings. Those who do manage to rise above their station still suffer from the sins of the past in The Mayor of Casterbridge, and in Far from the Madding Crowd Bathsheba’s multiple suitors only aggravate the challenge of domestic harmony.

About the Publisher: For 70 years, The Folio Society has been publishing beautiful illustrated editions of the world’s greatest books. It believes that the literary content of a book should be matched by its physical form. With specially researched images or newly commissioned illustrations, many of its editions are further enhanced with introductions written by leading figures in their fields: novelists, journalists, academics, scientists and artists. Exceptional in content and craftsmanship, and maintaining the very highest standards of fine book production,Folio Society editions last for generations.

Book copy and all images are courtesy of The Folio Society. Feel free to review the September Collection, it is brilliant! Please come back next Friday, when I feature the new Folio edition of Evelyn Waugh’s BRIDESHEAD REVISITED.

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The Folio Society

Folio Friday: The Left Hand of Darkness

Over the course of the next few Fridays, I’m excited to share with you all three new selections from the September catalog of The Folio Society. As many of you know, I’m a devoted fan of The Folio Society editions of classic literature, and the three I received so generously from the publisher have done nothing but encourage my adoration. This week, I want to highlight their edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS.

I’m drawn in by the incredible cover art and the interior illustrations that The Folio Society are known for, and one of the things I truly appreciate about their editions are the sturdy slipcovers that are also well-designed. The fact that TFS puts thought into not just the artwork for the book, but also its display case, is excellent. This particular edition was also a collaboration between Le Guin herself and the publisher, which makes it all the more unique and special. As a Le Guin fan, I’m proud to own this one.

According to The Folio Society:

Described by Margaret Atwood as ‘one of the literary greats’ and by Stephen King as ‘a literary icon’, Ursula K. Le Guin stands as a colossus in the field of speculative fiction. The Left Hand of Darkness won multiple awards, including the Hugo for best novel, making Le Guin the first woman to win it; appropriate indeed, given that her extraordinary novel of betrayal, loyalty, love and survival was to change the conversation about gender for ever. In her introduction, novelist Becky Chambers – herself nominated for both the Clarke Award and the Hugo – calls the book ‘a titan’, one that gave rise to new perspectives on what fiction could be.

About the Book:

Genly Ai is an Envoy, a diplomat sent to make first contact with inhabited planets. Winter, a world locked in a perpetual ice age, is a particularly daunting challenge: its people are androgynous, only taking on male or female sexual characteristics during ‘kemmer’, a monthly period of change and arousal. Struggling to understand the intricacies of a society where anyone could be both mother and father to multiple children, Genly is soon caught in the dangerous machinations of politicians and kings who care little for his life, or the potential life beyond their planet. He is left with little choice but to flee across a vast ice sheet, a journey dangerous enough for a native of Winter, let alone a human ill adapted to extreme cold. Yet with survival and desperation comes trust, and Genly gains a new understanding of Winter and its people.

About the Illustrated Edition:

Like the layers of snow, ice and rock that make up Winter, The Left Hand of Darkness is a novel of many layers. Le Guin’s lifelong interest in anthropology and cultural diversity is the bedrock of every page, with chapters devoted to Winter’s mythology, oral history and folk stories. Winter itself, where the habitable stretch of land is always in danger of being suffocated by ice, feels utterly real – Le Guin crafts a world of lethal beauty and completely believable complexity. David Lupton, who provided the illustrations for the Folio edition of A Wizard of Earthsea, returns with a series of sensitive and intimate black and white artworks. Le Guin herself was closely involved in directing the look and feel of this edition, with the binding, slipcase and endpapers specially designed to invoke the icy atmosphere of Winter.

Book copy and all images are courtesy of The Folio Society. Feel free to review the September Collection, it is brilliant! Please come back next Friday, when I feature the new Folio edition of Thomas Hardy’s JUDE THE OBSCURE.

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Classics, Giveaway, Thanksgiving, The Folio Society

A Book Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway!

Back in October, I shared that The Folio Society had at last completed their complete Jane Austen collection, with the publication of the illustrated Mansfield Park. As I mentioned at that time, my friends at The Folio Society were gearing up for a big holiday release and, as a “thank you” to the readers of my blog, who have always been big Folio Society fans, they wanted to return this week and offer you all something special. (More on that at the bottom of this post!)

First, though, I thought I would share with you some new treasures I discovered in the Holiday Catalog. If you are still thinking about gifts for the special bookworms in your life, I have to recommend these beautiful editions of classic literature (they also have texts from philosophy, science, religion, etc.) What is special about these editions is not just the fact that they are illustrated with stunning work by some of the most talented artists today, but they are beautifully bound in illustrated covers and come in sturdy slip-cases, which is important for protecting the look (and value) of these books, especially for long-time collectors. One of my favorite features, though, is that each edition comes with a new introduction. Take The Folio Society’s new edition of Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, for example; it is introduced by the incomparable Margaret Atwood!

Anyway, my perusal of the holiday catalog led to my acquiring 4 (technically 5!) new editions from The Folio Society. (Side note: there is also a Children’s Gift Ideas guide, from which I was VERY TEMPTED to get a few more items, but I had to restrain myself). The texts I picked-up for myself are: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick; John Steinbeck’s East of Eden; Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner & Three Other Poems; and a dual edition from Philip K. Dick, including Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and A Scanner Darkly. I have to say, even though I have collected a fair number of Folio Society books over the years, I was absolutely stunned by these new editions. The  cover art, especially, is beyond beautiful. I keep my books in their slip-cases in order to protect them, but someday I hope to purchase a display cabinet where I can put all of these out, front cover forward, because they are so beautiful.

As for the interior illustrations, well, take a look for yourself:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

“I think that the book which I put down with the unqualified thought ‘I wish I had written that’ is Moby-Dick” -William Faulkner

Following the huge success of their 2009 limited edition, Folio has reproduced Moby-Dick in a new collector’s edition. Featuring Rockwell Kent’s illustrations and bound in rich cloth, this is a fine presentation of what is regarded by many as the greatest American novel.

Herman Melville’s tale of the hunt for the white whale, Moby-Dick, is a sublime work of the imagination, an American Odyssey. It is at once an adventure story of the high seas, and an exploration of the uncharted regions of the soul.

A Scanner Darkly and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

It is difficult to measure the impact of Philip K. Dick’s work. Not only did his stories and novels win awards and influence an entire generation of science-fiction writers, many of his works have been adapted into film and continue to inspire directors to this day.

Alongside Ridley Scott’s genre-changing Blade Runner, inspired by Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the films Total Recall, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly and the recent television series The Man in the High Castle all owe their existence to his imagination.

For this special edition, The Folio Society have brought together two classic titles in an appropriately mind-bending format: read one, then turn the book upside down to enter the altered reality of the next.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

“It has everything I have been able to learn about my art or craft or profession in all these years,” wrote John Steinbeck of East of Eden, the novel he considered his magnum opus.

Coolly received when it was first published in 1952, it has grown in stature and popularity ever since, and is now recognized as the author’s most ambitious and accomplished work.

This magnificent edition, published to celebrate the winner of Folio’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Fiction Competition, and produced with the highest design and production values, is a fitting testament to Steinbeck’s remarkable achievement.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Three Other Poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was the most innovative and influential of all the English Romantic poets. This beautiful edition emulates our popular limited edition, with four immortal poems superbly illustrated by Harry Brockway, one of the UK’s leading wood-engravers. A striking binding design by the artist and a blocked slipcase make this the perfect vessel for Coleridge’s fantastical journeys.

This supernatural ballad was conceived as Coleridge walked in the Quantock Hills with William and Dorothy Wordsworth. From this initial inspiration Coleridge labored for five months, changing a traditional ballad stanza into an astonishingly flexible and musical unit of varying length. Lyrical Ballads, his collaboration with Wordsworth, opened with ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. It became the keynote of the book, indeed of English Romanticism as a whole.

The poem is a gripping tale of death, damnation and expiation. But it is also an allegory of sin and repentance, a mystical account of man’s fall from Grace through the symbolic killing of an innocent creature. For some critics, the mariner represents the poet himself: Coleridge wrote of his “Mind shipwrecked by storms of doubt, now mastless, rudderless, shattered, – pulling in the dead swell of a dark and windless Sea.” Just like the wedding guest, halted by the mariner and unable to break away, the reader is entranced by this visionary poem.

Important Dates

  • The last day to order for holiday delivery is December 8 (midnight EST).
  • The last day for express delivery is December 14 (midnight EST).

Giveaway!

Now for the really fun part! The Folio Society is saying HAPPY THANKSGIVING, and wishing you all early luck in your holiday shopping season by offering up one copy of their new edition of MANSFIELD PARK to a lucky winner. What do you have to do to be entered to win?

  1. Be a WordPress or an e-mail subscriber of this blog (click the thingamajig in the side-menu).
  2. Leave a comment on this post, including your e-mail handle in case you win, sharing what you are most looking forward to this holiday season! And let me know how/where you subscribe to or follow this blog.
  3. Follow me on Twitter @RoofBeamReader. (1 bonus entry)

The giveaway will close on “Black Friday” (this Friday, November 24th) at 11:59pm Pacific Time. All valid entries will be counted and winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org. Winner will have 72-hours to respond to e-mail notification with request for shipping information before new winner is chosen. Roof Beam Reader is not responsible for items lost in the mail, damaged, etc. Item will be shipped from the publisher. Folio Society editions are available exclusively at http://www.foliosociety.com.

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Jane Austen, The Folio Society

The Folio Society’s Mansfield Park!

Exciting news, dear readers!

Listen. You all know by now that I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen and a huge fan of The Folio Society. I’ve been beyond excited by the fact that The Folio Society has been slowly releasing new, illustrated editions of every Austen novel.

Today, I’m so excited to announce that MANSFIELD PARK has now been published, which also means the complete Austen set is now available!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park

Published in 1814, Mansfield Park marked a conscious departure from Austen’s previous novels. While Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice were drafted in the 1790s, Mansfield Park was composed between 1811 and 1813, when Austen was in her late thirties. The work of a practiced writer, this is Austen’s Bildungsroman: the only one of her novels to follow her heroine from a young girl into womanhood, and to trace the development of her moral consciousness.

At just ten years old, Fanny Price is sent from her poor Portsmouth home to live with the family of her wealthy uncle, Sir Thomas Bertram, in the vast grandeur of Mansfield Park. Timid and fragile, Fanny is neglected, belittled and constantly reminded of her lowly status. Her only comfort is the kindness and attention shown by her cousin Edmund, and her sole strength the sense of her own moral integrity. But this strength is tested when the alluring and sophisticated Henry and Mary Crawford arrive, and Fanny must watch her cousins – even her beloved Edmund –succumb to their seductive charms. As Lucy Worsley writes in her erudite introduction, ‘Mansfield Park is complex, mature Austen’, in which familiar themes of unrequited love and social propriety are played out against the backdrop of a nation in transition, one that – in reaction to the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution – is responding to ‘the great questions of the age: slavery, religion, wealth, right, wrong’.

This final volume in Folio’s celebrated Jane Austen series is illustrated by Darya Shnykina, whose beautifully textured illustrations won her the commission in the Book Illustration Competition 2017. Like Austen’s heroine, student Shnykina’s work displays a maturity beyond her years; her sensitive images convey a delicacy of atmosphere and expression entirely suited to Austen’s most subtle, discerning novel.

Special Note: I’ve just been in communication with The Folio Society, and I’ve been told that I can whisper this in your ear: Keep your eyes peeled for another visit from The Folio Society in November, during Thanksgiving Week (US). There just might be a special holiday gift available to one of my readers. (subtle, right?)


Product information
Bound in metallic buckram blocked with a design by the artist. Set in Baskerville with Trajan display. 432 pages.
Frontispiece and 7 color illustrations. Blocked slipcase. 9½ ̋ x 6¼ ̋.


For seventy years, The Folio Society has been publishing beautiful illustrated editions of the world’s greatest books. It believes that the literary content of a book should be matched by its physical form. With specially researched images or newly commissioned illustrations, many of its editions are further enhanced with introductions written by leading figures in their fields: novelists, journalists, academics, scientists and artists. Exceptional in content and craftsmanship, and maintaining the very highest standards of fine book production, Folio Society editions last for generations.


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Austen in August, Books, The Folio Society

The Folio Society’s New Northanger Abbey!

As you all know, August was the month of all things Austen! While running the event and moving across country, I somehow managed a re-read of Northanger Abbey, which was even better and funnier than I remembered. I hope you all enjoyed the annual Austen reading event, whether you were a participant or an observer. But, it’s now confession time.

The Folio Society, a wonderful publisher of exquisite editions, and made up of some really awesome people, gave me a head’s up on a new Austen edition that would be coming soon. (Of course, they also stopped by and offered up a giveaway again this year, which was amazing!) While reading my old, dusty copy of Northanger Abbey, I got a sneak-peek at The Folio Society’s brand new, stunningly beautiful edition! Now that the book has become available, I finally get to share!

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey

Introduced by Val McDermid and Illustrated by Jonathan Burton

‘Jane Austen is the pinnacle to which all other authors aspire’- J. K. Rowling

Crumbling castles, ghostly skeletons and innocent maidens in the gravest of danger: the tropes of Gothic romance fill the mind of Catherine Morland. Venturing from her country parsonage home to delight in her first season in Bath, the Austen’s naive heroine must navigate the more prosaic hazards of female friendship and undesirable suitors to secure the affection of eligible Henry Tilney. But when she is invited to Northanger Abbey, the Tilneys’ ancient stately home, Catherine’s love of sensational stories fires her imagination, and threatens to destroy her future happiness. The last of Austen’s novels to be published, appearing posthumously in 1818, Northanger Abbey was the first to be completed, written when Austen was in her early twenties. Simply told in lively and elegant prose, this is her most playful work. But the tongue-in-cheek tone that characterizes the story belies the skill of a truly great writer flexing her creative muscles. Just as Austen’s talent for satire exposes the failings of the overwrought gothic novels of the age, her subtle, beautifully observed portrait of Bath society reveals the real value of fiction: its power to convey ‘the most thorough knowledge of human nature’.

As Val McDermid writes in her introduction – a heartfelt account of how Northanger Abbey has reinvented itself for her with each rereading – Austen unfailingly provides us with the opportunity to investigate our own lives and find surprising truths there.’ Award-winning illustrator Jonathan Burton has created six colour illustrations, depicting both the ballrooms of Bath and the imposing Abbey. Witty, fresh and perceptive, the images perfectly reflect Austen’s wonderfully sardonic novel.

The penultimate edition in Folio’s Jane Austen series, this volume is bound in gold cloth, and the slipcase reproduces the work’s spirited first line. If you haven’t gotten your hands on a Folio Society edition, yet, this is a great place to start. I now have quite a few classics from TFS, and they are quickly becoming my favorite collection.


Product information
Bound in metallic cloth. Set in Baskerville with Trajan display. 232 pages.
Frontispiece and 5 colour illustrations. Blocked slipcase. 9½ ̋ x 6¼ ̋.


For seventy years, The Folio Society has been publishing beautiful illustrated editions of the world’s greatest books. It believes that the literary content of a book should be matched by its physical form. With specially researched images or newly commissioned illustrations, many of its editions are further enhanced with introductions written by leading figures in their fields: novelists, journalists, academics, scientists and artists. Exceptional in content and craftsmanship, and maintaining the very highest standards of fine book production, Folio Society editions last for generations.


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