Barbarian Press
~ Canada
(Crispin and Jan Elsted)


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About the Press: " We founded Barbarian Press in Boughton Monchelsea, Kent, in 1977, having conceived a love for beautifully printed books and a determination to see what we could do ourselves in that line. We were trained in letterpress printing by Graham Williams at the Florin Press, and in 1978 we returned to Canada with presses and type and established the press on five wooded acres in Steelhead, British Columbia, near Mission, about 50 miles east of Vancouver in the Fraser Valley.

"… our backgrounds are in literary studies and writing rather than graphic and studio arts, and we make our books to be read, not merely looked at. We feel that nothing should come between the text and the reader, and it is our view that typography should have, in Robert Bringhurst’s phrase, ‘a statuesque transparency’: like good film music, the best typography is effective to the degree that it is unobtrusive, supporting, not supplanting, the principal experience of the reader. Private press printing is a craft, not an art. The design and making of beautiful books is only secondarily a matter of self-expression; its first excellence is to serve the author and the reader."

The Ingoldsby Legends: A Gallimaufry
Selected and Edited, with Notes & an Afterword by Crispin Elsted
Original illustrations engraved by the Brothers Dalziel
In London, circa 1870, from drawings by J.L.R.
And here first published, printed from the wood
Mission, British Columbia: Barbarian Press, 2015. Edition of 90 (50 standard, 40 deluxe).

7.75 x 9.25"; 168 pages. Hand-set in Poliphilus and Blado with unidentified Victorian initials and Goudy Thirty for display, and printed on Heine mouldmade paper, with the engravings tipped in on Zerkall Smooth Cream.

Deluxe: Quarter calf with patterned paper from ornaments over boards, slipcased with an accompanying portfolio containing strikes of all the engravings, including one not used in the book and a titling block too large to be used.

Standard: quarter cloth with patterned paper, and not slipcased.

Barbarian Press: "In 1837 the first number of Bentley’s Miscellany appeared, published by Richard Bentley and edited by Charles Dickens. As well as the first installment of the editor’s Oliver Twist, it also featured the first of a series of ‘metrical tales’ – stories in verse – published under the name of Thomas Ingoldsby. As the Miscellany continued to appear, so did these grotesque and fantastical (and increasingly popular) narrative poems. Drawing upon myths and legends, which they parodied, and often using the more macabre conventions of fairy tales and ghost stories, they became so much in demand that Richard Bentley published three separate volumes of them in the following years. They have remained in print ever since.

"The actual author of these pieces was Richard Harris Barham (1788-1845), an English classical scholar, novelist, writer of light humorous verse, and priest in the Church of England. Barham had been at school with Richard Bentley and as adults they had remained friends. His first contributions to
the Miscellany were written as a favour to the publisher, but as their popularity grew and was sustained by further examples, he continued to produce the poems until in the end he had written more than fifty, some of considerable length. The Legends are representative of a particular style of early Victorian humour which mingled caricature with grotesquerie and moral tales with Gothic or romantic atmosphere, the whole salted with antiquarian learning and odd scraps of history, literary allusion, and word-play. …

"Our edition provides a selection – or ‘gallimaufry’ as the Victorians might have termed it – of eight of these poems. Six of them have been chosen to accompany six of the original wood engravings by the Dalziel Brothers, but two (‘The Jackdaw of Rheims’ and ‘The Legend of Hamilton Tighe’) are included because they were among the most popular of the collection. We are inclined to think that the illustrations, engraved by the Dalziels in the 1860s or early 1870s, are by John Lewis Roget, son of the Roget of Thesaurus fame and a noted British painter and illustrator of the time: the initials ‘JLR’ are carefully engraved by the Dalziels into each of the blocks. The images may have been omitted for some reason from the 1864 edition published by Richard Bentley, which was illustrated by John Tenniel, John Leech (the original illustrator of A Christmas Carol), and George Cruickshank, all of whose drawings were transferred onto wood by the Dalziels. Roget's illustrations (if it was he) may have been considered for this edition as well and not used, but this is only speculation. The images, with one exception, are apparently unpublished, and this edition will therefore represent their introduction to the world. The blocks were donated to the library at Massey College, University of Toronto from his own collection by the late Robertson Davies, and we are deeply grateful to Brian Maloney and P. J. MacDougall of the Robertson Davies Library at Massey College for lending them to us."
$445 standard (Last Copy)

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Simon Brett:
an Engraver's Process

A Selection of Engravings
with an Introduction by the artist
Mission, British Columbia: Barbarian Press, 2013. Edition of 175.

10.5 x 15.25"; 120 leaves including 7 fold outs. Of the edition, 55 constitute the Deluxe state, and the remaining 120 the Standard. Texts printed in Joanna with Fry’s Ornamented for display in green and black on Zerkall Cream laid, with 134 engravings printed from the wood on Zerkall White Smooth. Standard version bound in quarter green cloth with a printed paper label and patterned paper over boards.

Barbarian Press: "Books on wood engraving have become a particular specialty of the press since the publication in 1995 of Endgrain: Contemporary Wood Engraving in North America. ... The interest shown in Endgrain has spawned an ongoing series of books called Endgrain Editions, each volume showing selected work of a single engraver, printed from the original blocks, with an introduction and a catalogue of major works. ...

Barbarian Press, Endgrain Editions 4: "Simon Brett is acknowledged as one of the masters of wood engraving of the past half-century. He was inspired to take up engraving in the early 1960s by his teacher Clifford Webb at St Martin’s School of Art in London, where he was principally studying as a painter. He illustrated a number of books in the 1980s and published them under his own imprint, Paulinus Press, winning the Francis Williams Illustration Award for the first, The Animals of Saint Gregory, in 1981. Since 1989, when he retired from teaching at Marlborough College, he has worked exclusively as a wood engraver, principally as a book illustrator.

"Although his work has appeared in books from such publishers as David R. Godine [Pushkin’s The Gypsies and other poems] and in 26 images for the New Testament portion of The Reader’s Digest Illustrated Bible, the widest selection is to be seen in books from the Folio Society, for which he has illustrated many classics, .... Beyond this, his engravings have been commissioned by many fine presses in Great Britain, the United States, and Canada – including ours.

"We spent several days with Simon in November 2011 going through the archive of his work in his studio in Marlborough, and with him we made a preliminary selection of images going back to his earliest engravings. In celebration of Simon Brett’s first fifty years as an engraver and his 70th birthday, we completed a few copies of this retrospective book on his work in time for the Oxford Book Fair in November 2013. ...

"An Engraver’s Progress [Endgrain Editions 4] is more extensive than other volumes in the Endgrain Edition series, containing 134 engravings, considerably more than twice the number shown in the earlier volumes. There are several tipped double spreads of larger images, and the book is in the larger format ...used for Endgrain Editions 3: Peter Lazarov. Simon Brett has written a fascinating autobiographic introduction to his work, there is a Publisher’s Foreword, and like the other volumes in the series, the book includes a catalogue raisonné of major exhibitions, a checklist of books illustrated by the artist, and a list of his publications as author and editor. It also includes a complete chronological listing of all Simon’s engravings from 1961 to the present. The two last engravings on the list are the pattern block for the cover paper of this book, and its frontispiece, both specially commissioned. We believe Endgrain Editions 4: Simon Brett – an Engraver’s Progress will become the primary reference for the first fifty years of Simon’s work. "
$945 Standard edition

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Between Rainfalls
By Tim Bowling
Mission, Canada: Barbarian Press, 2010.

5.5 x 10.125"; 56 pages. Hand set in Van Dijck with Huxley Vertical for display on Hahnemühle Biblio mouldmade paper. Covers are of St. Armand handmade Slate paper. Cahier binding.

Barbarian Press: "This book is a selection of poems from Canadian poet, Tim Bowling. The poems range over three of Tim's principal interest - his family, literature's place in our lives and perceptions, and the interrelationships between humans and nature.

"In the summer of 2010, ... we published a slim volume of poems by Tim Bowling, an award-winning Canadian poet and novelist whose work we have admired for some years. His second book of poems, Dying Scarlet (which won the Stephansson Award for Poetry in 1998), remains for us one of the most intelligent and sensitive collections published in this country.

"Tim Bowling has published seven collections of poetry, among them Darkness and Silence (winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry), The Witness Ghost, and The Memory Orchard (both nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award). He is also the author of three novels, Downriver Drift (Harbour), The Paperboy’s Winter (Penguin), and The Bone Sharps (Gaspereau Press), and a poignant and beautiful memoir, The Lost Coast: Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture. He has won the Petra Kenney International Poetry Prize, the National Poetry Award, and the Orillia International Poetry Prize. Raised in Ladner, not far from the press in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, he now lives in Edmonton.

"Between Rainfalls comprises twenty new poems, many of them evoking the Fraser Valley and the west coast of British Columbia. Tim Bowling is a poet well worth meeting, and we hope this book will introduce him to a wider and more international audience."

This is the thirty-ninth publication of the press.
$132 (Last Copy)

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Amours de Voyage
By Arthur Hugh Clough
Mission, Canada: Barbarian Press, 2007. Edition of 125.

9.375 x 7"; 88 pages. Quarter cloth with printed St-Armand handmade paper over boards, with spine label. Bugra endpapers. Van Dijck with calligraphic display by Martin Jackson. Zerkall Book Soft White Wove. With eleven wood engravings by Abigail Rorer.

Barbarian Press: "We believe this to be the first fine press edition of an all-but-forgotten Victorian masterpiece - Arthur Hugh Clough's Amours de Voyage. We have always had an affection for Victorian poetry, and had been considering such poets as Swinburne and Tennyson as candidates for our ongoing series of long poems when we came upon Clough's novella in verse. Rather too long for anthologies (which is unfortunately the way most Victorian poets are read these days), Amours de Voyage seems to have languished in the shadow of Clough's greater contemporaries, Tennyson and Arnold. Encountering it was a vivid, freshening experience, and it seemed perfectly suited to an illustrated fine press edition. Amours de Voyage is a strange poem in many ways. It takes the form of a series of letters written by a young Englishman, Claude, as he is making the 'grand tour' - in other words, as he is pursuing what Patrick Scott, the poem's most recent editor, calls an intellectual tourism.' In the process he falls in love (or believes he has) and is also enmeshed in the political upheavals of Italy in 1849. Clough wrote the poem from his own experience travelling in Italy that year.

"The poem, however, occupies no settled or defined ground in either its form or its content: it is a novella in verse, written when the prose novel was reaching its popular apotheosis; it is an epistolary, private story written almost entirely in one voice in a time when the novel was relishing the public examination of character rom many points of view, and only just before Tennyson himself was being pilloried for his use of a single-voice narration in Maud; and it is written in mixed hexameters at a period when strained experiments in classical metrical patterns were demonstrating the inadequacies of English accentual metres to sustain the lyricism of quantitative metres in Latin. The poem must have found itself extremely ill-at-ease when it was published. Indeed, many of Clough's friends, including Matthew Arnold, expressed dislike for the poem either in matter or manner, and Clough revised it continually for nearly nine years before
nally publishing it in 1858. In the end he discarded almost as much as he left in, and the discarded sections make fascinating reading.

"Whatever the poem's initial reception, to a modern ear attuned to the supple cadences of the best free verse in the work of poets like John Ashbery or Geoffrey Hill, Clough's verse in Amours has a colloquial vivacity and freshness which makes it seem natural:

     Twelve o'clock, on the Pincian Hill, with lots of English,
     Germans, Americans, French, - the Frenchmen, too, are protected, -
     So we stand in the sun, but afraid of a probable shower;
     So we stand and stare, and see, to the left of St. Peter's,
     Smoke, from the cannon, white, - but that is at intervals only, -
     Black, from a burning house, we suppose, by the Cavalleggieri;
     And we believe we discern some lines of men descending
     Down through the vineyard-slopes, and catch a bayonet gleaming.

"This passage also demonstrates another quality of the poem which brings it easily into our own sensibility: its detached observation. The poem was written from Clough's own experiences in Italy in 1849. He was in the fledgling Roman Republic, and knew Mazzini. He was there when the city was besieged by the French in April, he remained there through the siege and the bombardment, and he witnessed the violence of the Roman mobs in May. As a radical in politics he was committed to the cause, but he was shaken: this was not the pleasant ideological discourse of Oxford. He saw men killed, and this is recorded in the poem, in language whose panicking repetitions and stammerings are also curiously modern, familiar:

     So I have seen a man killed! An experience that, among others!
     Yes, I suppose I have; although I can hardly be certain,
     And in a court of justice could never declare I had seen it.
     But a man was killed, I am told, in a place where I saw
     Something; a man was killed, I am told, and I saw something.

"Such language is very far from the plangent certainties and trumpeting confidence we habitually expect to find in Victorian poetry. But of course we have at last come to see that the Victorians were neither so confident nor so assured as we had thought. In its concern with the demands of faith, the nature of love, and the necessities of political radicalism, Clough's poem emerges from the thickets of doubt and irony in the company of such poets as Arnold, Meredith, and the Tennyson of In Memoriam. Such modernity makes us think that Amours de Voyage may only now be ready to take a place in that part of 19th-century verse which lays the ground for the 20th century....

"Abigail Rorer has illustrated the poem with wood engravings. Abbie is fascinated by the Victorian period, and is certainly one of the best engravers of figures working today. She is also interested in costume and has a pleasingly satirical, yet kindly, eye. She has provided four full-page engravings, two half-page ones, and some smaller images and 'spots' as well."
$395 (Last Copy)



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Hoi Barbaroi: A Quarter Century at Barbarian Press
By Crispin and Jan Elsted
Mission, Canada: Barbarian Press, 2004.
Deluxe Edition (Out of print); Regular Edition of 150.

Barbarian's first bibliography, Utile Dulci: The First Decade at Barbarian Press 1977-87 has long since been out of print. Fifteen years passed. Barbarian celebrated twenty-five years of printing. To commemorate such a wonderful history of printing a new bibliography was embarked upon. Because much has happened since the original bibliography it would be easy to issue a further bibliography to mark the press’s silver anniversary. Instead of having two volumes distinct from one another Barbarian has elected to incorporate the earlier bibliography into this one in order to provide a complete picture of the press’s books to date. It is indeed a beautiful anniversary commemoration.

Deluxe Edition (Out of print). 13 x 9.5" 150 pages. Hand set in Bembo and Fairbanks italic with Bembo and Castellar for display. Facsimile text of earlier edition printed in offset facsimile from the original pages. Numerous tip-ins and illustrations, from wood engravings to pages from the original press runs of books. David Evans’ photographic essay laid out at the press and printed in tritone by Western Printers with captions digitally set. Printed in two colours on Zerkall mouldmade papers. Hand bound by Simone Mynen in quarter leather with printed paper over boards, gold stamped leather label on spine. Accompanied by a clamshell box containing original examples of ephemera going back to the beginnings of the press, and an additional signed studio print by David Evans. Book and box contained in a slipcase.

Regular Edition of 150. 13 x 9.5" Quarter bound by Rasmussen Bindery in cloth and printed paper over boards, printed label on spine. Same inclusions as Deluxe edition within book. Slipcased.

Deluxe Edition (Out of Print)
Regular Edition $650



Barbarian Press Out of Print or Sold titles:
• And, Much More Not Ourselves
• Eve of St. Agnes
• Gallipoli
• Prothalamion & Epithalamion: The Wedding Songs of Edmund Spenser.
• Rufinus: The Complete Poems
• The Wolf's Carol

How It Goes
A Convocation Address

By Robert Bringhurst
Mission, British Columbia: Barbarian Press, 2017. Edition of 120.

7.5 x 9.25"; 12 unpaginated pages. Letterpress printed in Garamond with Tiern for display. Printed on Heine mouldmade paper. Sewn into wraps of St. Armand Canal Sisal Cucumber paper wrappers.

"How it Goes" is the address delivered on 9 June 2016 by Robert Bringhurst when he was awarded the degree of D. Litt (honoris causa) by Simon Fraser University. He spoke to a portion of the graduating class who had recently earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in the faculty of arts.

He challenged the graduates to "Think like an ecosystem"; that is, "Think for yourself, & do it in all directions. Think for yourself without letting yourself get in the way." In making the challenge he referenced Ovid, Jaadeahl Qqaygaanga, and Linji Yixuan. "One of Canada’s most revered poets, Robert Bringhurst is also a typographer, translator, cultural historian, and linguist. Born in 1946, he studied comparative literature at Indiana University and poetry at the University of British Columbia. Bringhurst’s own poetry draws on his experiences with Native American myths and storytelling, as well as his training in philosophy, comparative literature, and linguistics. Bringhurst’s poetry is known for its wide-ranging intellectual curiosity and linguistic clarity. He is eclectic in his approach to literature, taking inspiration from sources as diverse as the Bible, the ancient Greek poets, and the epics of the Haida, one of Canada’s native tribes."

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Musick in partes
Songs & Poems from Shakespeare's Plays Mission, British Columbia: Barbarian Press, 2017. Edition of 116 (60 deluxe, 50 standard, 6 reserved for the press).

5.5 x 7.25"; 84 pages. Text set in Poliphilus and Blado, with Duensing and unidentified drop caps for display, in black, red, green, and violet. Letterpress printed on Zerkall Book White mouldmade paper. Engravings by John Lawrence printed from the wood, and some detailed spots from the larger engravings printed from photopolymer plates. This is the standard version bound in cloth with printed paper boards from printer’s ornaments.

Barbarian Press: "Published to mark the Quatercentenary of Shakespeare’s death on what was probably his 52nd birthday: 23 April 1616. With notes and glossary, and multiple wood engravings by John Lawrence.

"Shakespeare’s theatre assumed music to be a natural part of almost any performance. Roughly two thirds of his thirty-eight plays include song texts, and many of those have become established in the canon of lyric poetry in English in their own right. The Elizabethan stage moreover included what was called a ‘minstrels’ gallery’ above the stage, and we know that music was played at dramatic points during performances to create moods or enhance special effects. ... In this 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death it occurred to us to celebrate the music in the plays by way of their songs, and in Musick in partes we are presenting over forty songs and two or three poems from every period of his plays, from The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1594) to The Two Noble Kinsmen (1613). "

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The Seasons: 4 Bagatelles
By Barbarian Press
Mission, British Columbia, Canada: Barbarian Press, 2013. Edition of 50.

Four pamphlets and a broadside laid in 8.75 x 11.5 x 1.25" cloth-covered clamshell box with ribbon lift.

Broadside, The Seasons: 8 x 10.75" single sheet. Letterpress printed in Bembo Roman and Fairbanks type on vintage Wookey Hole Invicta handmade paper.

Pamphlets: 8 x 11; 16 pages. Handsewn binding in paper wraps. Letterpress title and ornaments on covers.
          Upon Vermilion Wheels, Poems for Autumn: Bembo and Fairbanks types with Champlevé for display. Barcham Green Tovil paper, handmade at Hayle Mill.
          Stories of Snow, Poems for Winter: Bembo and Fairbanks types with Elysian for display. Text paper is Biblio. Cover papers were handmade at Papeterie St-Armand.
          Calice & Stem, Poems for Spring: Bembo and Fairbanks types with Egmont Initials and Fournier le Jeune for display. Text paper is Heine. Cover papers ere handmade at Papeterie St. Armand.
          Sweet Hay and Gone, Poems for Summer: Bembo and Fairbanks types with Demeter for display. Text paper is Rideau laid, handmade, like the cover papers, at Papeterie St. Armand.

The Seasons contains four bagatelles, one for each season, printed from 2011 - 2013. Each was printed individually and was available at time of printing. Copies of each were set aside to produce a complete set for Barbarian's subscriber list.

Each pamphlet contains a selection of poems from the canon of English, American, and Canadian literature – and sometimes, in translation, from other languages – and are illustrated with colored arrangements of typographical ornaments, or 'printer’s flowers.'

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The Splendour of a Morning
Early Poems of C. P. Cavafy
Translated from the Greek by David Smulders
Greek text edited by Anthony Hirst
With five wood engravings by Peter Lazarov
Mission, British Columbia: Barbarian Press, 2016. Edition of 100 + 10 hors commerce.

5.75 x 10.75"; 79 pages. Of the edition of 100, 50 standard and 50 deluxe (out of print). The texts are printed in hand-set Antigone (Greek) and Van Dijck with Open Kapitalen for display, in blue and black on Zerkall Book White mouldmade paper, with five engravings by Peter Lazarov printed from the wood. Standard with a split-board binding. Paper covered boards with blue silk spine and printed paper titles label. Bi-lingual text: Greek and English.

Barbarian Press: "A small collection of thirty-eight of C. P. Cavafy’s poems, translated by David Smulders and illustrated with five engravings by Peter Lazarov, … Apart from our liking for Cavafy’s poems and Mr. Smulders’ translations, the other delight about this project is that in it we are introducing a new addition to our composing room: Antigone, a Greek typeface designed by Jan van Krimpen in 1927. … and so [is] a bilingual edition, setting the Greek texts of the poems facing the English versions.

"C. P. Cavafy (1863–1933) is now probably the best known of all modern Greek poets, but his work was hardly known in Greece until after his death. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and with the exception of a few years spent in England and Constantinople as a child, he lived in Alexandria for the rest of his life, dying there in 1933. During his lifetime his work had only been published in small booklets and broadsheets or small magazines in Alexandria, and his only recognition in mainland Greece came in a favourable review of these in 1903. It wasn’t until 1935 that a collection of his work,
Poiemata [Poems], was published in Athens.

"Cavafy is not a nature poet, but a poet of humanity, whose poems revolve around a few predominant themes: meditations on his own life; love poems; the place of man in history; and the subtle interconnections of life with the adumbrations of mythology. This selection covers a range of all these themes, including what are probably his two most famous poems,
The God Abandons Antony and Waiting for the Barbarians."

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Under Strange Sail
Translations and Improvisations from Many Hands
By Doris Kareva, Willem van Toorn, Fereydoun Faryad, and others
Mission, Canada: 2007. Edition of 115.

13.75 x 21" portfolio with 16 sheets of various sizes laid-in. Printed with a variety of typefaces on vintage Barcham Green papers and on new hand-made sheets from Canada and the Czech Republic. Contained in folded and printed portfolio of heavy waterleaf paper with stiff backing. Includes a title sheet, a colophon, and notes on the poets and translators.

Barbarian Press: "Sometimes a subject settles itself into the foreground of one’s thoughts and, with the calm certitude of a cat on a windowsill, refuses to budge. Such a subject for us over the last few months has been the translation of poetry. ...

"This is a suite of a dozen separately designed broadsheets. The languages represented include classical Greek, Estonian, Dutch, Farsi, French, & German, the poets ranging from Sappho and Pindar to contemporary poets like Doris Kareva, Willem van Toorn, and Fereydoun Faryad, including along the way Georg Trakl, Rainer Maria Rilke, and others. The translators include Albert Moritz, Robert Bringhurst, Scott King, Francis Jones, Manfred Meurer, and Crispin Elsted. One of Ronsard’s sonnets is translated by John Pass, 2006 winner of the Governor General’s Award for poetry; a recently discovered new poem by the Nobel Prize-winning Italian poet Eugenio Montale is translated for the first time into English by John Francis Phillimore, and three of Doris Kareva’s poems are translated from Estonian by an acquaintance of many years, Toomas Ilves, who just last October, by happy coincidence, was elected President of Estonia."

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Venus & Adonis
By William Shakespeare
Mission, Canada: Barbarian Press, 2005. Edition of 130.

10 x 5.5"; 64 pages. Quarter green cloth with decorated printed paper over boards, with spine label. Bugra cream endpapers. Poliphilus and Blado with Poliphilus Titling and calligraphic display by Martin Jackson in green and black on Zerkall Book Cream Wove. With ten wood engravings and a press device by Andy English.

Barbarian Press: "Venus & Adonis'"Venus & Adonis' is one of two lengthy narrative poems written by Shakespeare early in his career, when plague forced the closure of the theatres and he took the opportunity to write something non-theatrical. This poem, along with "The Rape of Lucrece" and some of the sonnets dates from the early 1590s.

'Venus & Adonis' is an erotic jeu d’esprit, based lovingly on a story told by Ovid in the Metamorphoses. It is the converse of the usual seduction yarn with the boy and the girl in the back seat of the Chevy – although in rather more salubrious surroundings: Venus, a healthy girl with hearty appetites, falls in love with Adonis, a healthy boy with a taste for hunting, and attempts with all her considerable charms to entrap him. Adonis, with stupefying indifference to what is being offered him, resists manfully – well, resists, in any case – and eventually leaves her in order to hunt the boar, with the inevitable tragic result. The poem ends with Venus’s lament and the springing up of a flower from Adonis’ blood to stand in his memory."


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Page last update: 09.12.17


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