That’s the beautiful thing about karma. Sometimes people will dramatically overcompensate, making up for a petty infraction with an exceptionally decent act. That seems to be the case with Penguin Books. Last month they published the autobiography of mope-crooner Morrissey under their used-to-mean-something “Penguin Classics” imprint.
As if to say “We’re sorry, our marketing department made us do it,” that imprint then released five titles shortly thereafter featuring some of the most beautiful covers we’ve seen. Each volume in the Legends from the Ancient North series features a stunning paper-cut cover by Petra Börner. Those titles are:
- The Wanderer: Elegies, Epics, Riddles
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
- The Saga of the Volsungs
- The Elder Edda
Börner cut up many sheets of colored paper and proceeded to work them up into complex layers to get these end results, and these end results are marvelous. (Oddly, her Beowulf cover is probably the best of the bunch by quite a wide margin, or that might merely be the opinion of someone who usually favors concrete images over the abstract.)
The great contrasts between vibrant colors and deep black backgrounds are striking, and meant to be an homage to JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, as Penguin art editor Isabelle de Cat tells Creative Review. Indeed, to hear de Cat tell it, all five volumes were brought out because they were influences on that series….you can never keep the marketing department out of things completely, you see.
Well, sell these books as pre-Tolkien classics if you must, just so long as you give us these gorgeous covers right along with them. At roughly $10 a pop, they make beautiful art prints. Who knows, we might even read a few pages here and there…