While I primarily read ebooks these days, I still love to collect beautiful books. Nothing compares to the sensation of textured pages in your hands or to the beautiful artwork, imagery, and covers that are so much richer off the screen. So with great pleasure I’ve been perusing one of my Christmas gifts from my husband—a beautiful edition of Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s Beauty and the Beast (which happens to be one of my favorite fairy tales) illustrated by MinaLima. If you’re not familiar with the history, Villeneuve penned the original tale in French in 1740, and there have been nearly-infinite variations since. This English translation contains lavish illustrations, beautiful artwork for the opening of each chapter, and intriguing interactive elements such as fold-out maps, spinning wheels, and doors that open and shut.
For those of you who haven’t read the original tale, I’ll share a few snippets below. The story starts by giving us the background on Beauty’s family:
In a country very far from this is to be seen a great city, wherein trade flourishes abundantly. It numbered amongst its citizens a merchant, who succeeded in all his speculations, and upon whom fortune, responding to his wishes, had always showered her fairest favors. But if he had immense wealth, he had also a great many children, his family consisting of six boys and six girls. None of them were settled in life: the boys were too young to think of it; the girls, too proud of their fortunes, upon which they had every reason to count on, could not easily determine the choice they should make…
Then, of course, the wealthy merchant loses everything and must take refuge in a small country home, wherein begins the sequence that causes Beauty to meet the Beast. At their first meeting, Beauty is filled with dread, but nevertheless chooses courage:
Seeing the Beast approach, whom she could not behold without a shudder, she advanced with a firm step, and with a modest air, saluted him very respectfully. This behavior pleased the Monster.
After having contemplated her, he said to the old man, in a tone which, without being one of anger, might, however, fill with terror the boldest heart, “Good evening, my good friend;” and turning to Beauty, he said also to her, “Good evening, Beauty.”
The old man, fearing even instant that something awful would happen to his daughter, had not the strength to reply.
But Beauty, without agitation and in a sweet and firm voice, said, “Good evening, Beast.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed these snippets from the original Beauty and the Beast and that they encourages you to seek out and purchase this lovely, full-color edition of the tale (and perhaps some of the other classics illustrated by MinaLima…a great set for all book lovers).
I’d love to know…do you collect physical books or do you stick with ebooks only?