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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

The Far Tower: Stories for WB Yeats

tower.jpg

I said a couple of weeks ago that I had more cover designs waiting to be revealed, and this was one of them, arriving two years to the week after my earlier cover for The Scarlet Soul: Stories of Dorian Gray. Both books are collections of original fiction edited by Mark Valentine for Swan River Press, and both offer variations on works by Irish authors prominent during the 1890s:

“All Art that is not mere story-telling,
or mere portraiture, is symbolic…” — WB Yeats

Stories of magic and myth, folklore and fairy traditions, the occult and the outré, inspired by the rich mystical world of Ireland’s greatest poet, WB Yeats. We invited ten contemporary writers to celebrate Yeats’s contributions to the history of the fantastic and supernatural in literature, drawing on his work for their own new and original tales. Each has chosen a phrase from his poems, plays, stories, or essays to herald their own explorations in the esoteric. Alongside their own powerful qualities, the pieces here testify to the continuing resonance of Yeats’s vision in our own time, that deep understanding of the meshing of two worlds and the talismans of old magic.

Yeats had a career that extended beyond the fin de siècle, of course, and the title of The Far Tower alludes to The Tower, a collection of poems that Yeats published in 1928. (The first poem in the book, Sailing to Byzantium, is the origin of the phrase/title “no country for old men”.) Yeats’s poetry is very different to the Modernists, however, and remained infused with mystical resonances, something I tried to reflect in the cover design. In addition to the very Yeatsian symbol of the rose there are symbols for the four elements, and a pair of robed figures who can be taken as adepts of one sort or another, either the Golden Dawn (who Yeats was involved with for a time) or the various Theosophists and Rosicrucians of the period who fed his imagination.

The green-and-gold colour scheme matches the gold on green design that Thomas Sturge Moore created for the first edition of The Tower. Sturge Moore produced covers for a number of Yeats’s books but it was his splendid design for Axel by Auguste Villiers de L’Isle-Adam that gave me the nested circles and vertical division of the board. That edition happens to have a preface by Yeats so as an influence it isn’t too remote.

The Far Tower will be published in December but is available for pre-order now.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Scarlet Soul: Stories for Dorian Gray
Form and Austin Osman Spare
Golden apples and silver apples
A Book of Images by WT Horton
The Savoy magazine

 


 

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4 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by John

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    Beautiful design, very much in the tradition of Yeats’ original books.

    https://drmarionmcgarry.weebly.com/irish-heritage-and-identity-blog/the-poets-architectural-muse-yeats-thoor-ballylee
    (concerning Yeats’ tower-house home)

  2. #2 posted by John

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    Thanks, John. I researched the book covers but not the place itself, that’s a fascinating piece.

  3. #3 posted by Mitchell

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    Very nice. I love that old time vibe; then again, I’m a dotard going through a weird phase of politics moving left while getting nostalgic for pure-digital times up to a point.

  4. #4 posted by John

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    Thanks, Mitchell. The printed edition should have gold foil on the cover so there’ll be a closer resemblance to the Yeats original.

 




 

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