“DREAMY, MYSTICAL, SERENE”: GUSTAVE DORÉ’S ILLUSTRATIONS FOR TENNYSON’S ENID, GORGEOUSLY BOUND
TENNYSON, Alfred. Enid. London: Edward Moxon, 1868. Large folio (12-1/2 by 16-1/2 inches), original full red morocco rebacked with original spine laid down, raised bands, inlaid blue morocco title piece within ornamental gilt cover border, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $2500.
First Doré-illustrated edition of Tennyson’s Enid (one of the stories in his poetic treatment of Arthurian legend, Idylls of the King), with nine rich, large folio steel engravings by Doré, beautifully bound in original full gilt-decorated red morocco.
"One of the finest lyrists of the English tongue" (Kunitz & Haycraft, 612), Tennyson reawakened the general reading public's interest in Arthurian legend with his Idylls of the King. The first four of the cycle's eventual 12 poems were published in 1859. Tennyson's retelling of the old tales placed them "on a new plateau of respect and significance for writers and artists" (Lacy, 446). "No other foreign illustrator and few native ones of the period so completely captured the English fancy [as Doré]… Tennyson and his publisher Moxon greatly favored Doré as an illustrator" (Muir, Victorian Illustrated Books, 227, 244). Moxon was, in fact, "the only publisher ever to commission steel engravings from Doré. Moxon's total cost for these editions must have been staggering… [He] would publish a series of individual stories from Idylls of the King and then combine them. [He] would offer each story in three formats: a regular folio book edition containing steel engravings [as here], a portfolio of photogravures of the original art, and a set of India Proofs, each proof signed by Doré, Tennyson and the engraver… The steel engravings give much more of a speckled look to the scenes, different from the grainy look of Doré's usual wood engravings. It produces a dreamy, mystical, serene [feeling] that is quite different for Doré" (Malan, 97). With nine wonderful full-page steel engravings. Malan, 303. Gift inscription.
Scattered light foxing, top edges of last few leaves lightly rubbed. Board edges expertly restored.