The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and Yanai Pery

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The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and Yanai Pery

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Possibly a misguided attempt at illustrating a masterpiece, but the right reader may get something out of this large format artwork.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 60 Date: April 2014
Publisher: Simply Read Books
ISBN: 9781897476994

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A man sits, slumped over his books and in his quite ugly pyjamas, seeking relief from grief, when he starts to be haunted by a knocking from outside his chambers. He only sees a darkness when he first opens the door – mirroring the darkness inside, for he is in mourning. When he opens the window, he is doubly haunted – both by the memories of his beloved Lenore, and the figure of a raven that enters the room and remains, with its one-word mantra of a message. We are in the world of the 1840s and of Poe, as never seen before…

And, unfortunately, I don't think I want to see it like this again. It's not just the pattern on the pyjamas that is ugly – an ever-shifting geometry of vivid coloured shapes – the man himself is not particularly attractive in this artwork, with his voluminously wide mouth and gaping eye sockets. It's a style that is shared by the man's pets – three mice and a cat that are brought in to add drama where the verses don't carry enough for the illustrator's purposes.

Those verses, 54 tight quatrains with a revolving rhyming scheme and meter that must rely on dramatic pause and some small effort at times to match, all get their own individual portrait illustration, perfectly vividly presented by this large format hardback, which with its embossed cover and luxury binding shows great effort. But as I suggest some don't deserve the pictorial accompaniment they get, and I do have to wonder how correct the publishers are in hoping that this will become a book for all ages. The style – twenty words a page, the clear dedication to the craft of illustration – befits a picture book for the young, but how many of them will care for the balms of Gilead or in fact any of the themes of the poem?

It is a great poem, and I'm sure that having not studied it terribly far it holds secrets from me – why is the bust one of Pallas, for example? I've read it probably every five years for a few decades now, one way or another – something I don't warrant many other verses with – and I find new clarity every time. And none of that was brought from the pictures here, even the wordless ending which by itself earned half a star rating. I didn't think Poe was exactly a family-friendly, all-ages read, and this volume proved that. To its credit I don't think the other illustrated versions conveyed the haunting in such a successfully literal fashion – making Lenore more of a character than in other adaptations, but there remains a mismatch between both the format and the adult nature of the poem, and the darkly crafted verse and the unattractive artwork, that jars.

I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.

Eye Classics: Nevermore - A Graphic Novel Anthology of Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Various, Dan Whitehead (Editor) is a great collection of windows into the world of Poe for comix heads.

Buy The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and Yanai Pery at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and Yanai Pery at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and Yanai Pery at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and Yanai Pery at Amazon.com.


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