The Beauty and The Beast

I received a lovely gift this past week: a second-hand but mint condition copy of The Beauty and The Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, in the 1858 J. R. Planché English translation.

The edition was published by Harper Design, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers in 2017 and, as the cover states, is “lavishly illustrated” by MinaLima “with interactive elements”.  Tucked inside the book was a copy of the publisher’s blurb which was likely inside the plastic wrap in which the book was originally encased.

Also tucked inside the book, protecting the various interactive mechanisms which the book contains, were sheets of paper and cardstock.

I have removed those but kept the blurb.

The book really is lavishly illustrated. Each chapter begins with a pictorial two-page spread and there are numerous full page illustrations.

There are additional pictures inserted in the text.

The Beauty and The Beast is not a pop-up book. It is a ‘moveable’ book. There are numerous interactive elements throughout the book.

There are fold-out maps,

a tunnel book,

a page with little doors to open,

and several volvelles.

This book was never meant to be given to a child. The language of the translation is formal and old-fashioned, and includes words like ‘repast’ and ‘collation’ which are not commonly part of contemporary vocabulary, and likely unknown to modern children. The mechanisms in the book are not sturdy. Several of them are so delicate that I was a bit nervous handling them.

The blurb refers to the the book as a “deluxe unabridged collector’s edition”. An adult might read the book to a child, explaining words as they went, showing the pictures and demonstrating the mechanisms, but the book was obviously intended for an adult market, despite the “sure to delight readers of all ages” claim made by the publisher.

I am, apparently, part of the adult market for which the book was made, and I am delighted. If you want your own copy, you can order one here.


In other book arts news:

The most recent Friday Night Flicks featured typewriters. Creating a machine that can handle English is tricky, creating one for languages that have diacritic marks even trickier. What about languages that consist of ideograms?

This coming Tuesday The Letterform Archive will be presenting a free lecture by Tom Mullany, The Chinese Typewriter: A History. You can find more information and pre-register here.


If you are interested in the Zhen Xian Bao/Chinese Thread Book, you might want to read a recent post by Paula Beardell Kreig. She shows some of the different cover variations that can be used when making a Zhen Xian Bao.

About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than twenty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004.
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