I wanted to alert folks on the listserv to a new book
that will be published by Valancourt Books in March.
It is an illustrated edition of Fouque's masterpiece
"The Magic Ring". This epic chivalric and Gothic
adventure/romance, which includes moral peril and clashes
between its Christian protagonists and non-Christian pagan
and Muslim warriors, lost favour in the 20th century, I
believe, because of its clear moral compass and Christian
"The Magic Ring" is believed to have been an influence on
J.R.R. Tolkien's writings as it was on those of George
MacDonald, and this new edition features over 40 full page
B&W illustrations, making it far more accessible to younger
readers as well as to adults (a previous edition, also by
Valancourt, was published in 2006, but had a decidedly more
scholarly look and feel to it).
To learn more and to find out about price and availability,
you can become a fan on the Facebook page for the book at:
P.S. Full disclosure requires that I admit that I illustrated
this edition of "The Magic Ring", but it was a delight and a
privilege to do so, and I sincerely hope folks here enjoy the
results! You can see more of my other work (than anyone would
likely ever wish to ;-) at:
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Idhrin-eden 'elir (Happy New Year!) And welcome to my newsletter for January, 2010! Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would like to keep up with me. To receive these newsletters directly, please drop me an email or subscribe online from my website (http://www.JefMurra
There are 2 new paintings posted on my website, both Tolkien-themed. These include a new painting of Lothlorien (with a gothic theme), and my first painting ever of the Argonath. You can see these by going to http://www.JefMurra
I welcome your thoughts and comments on these new works!
I know of no one sad to be shut of 2009. It seems strange were there no blessed events in the year just ended to mitigate our collective misery? No glimpses of grace to diminish despair? It seems we're all suffering uncertainty and praying that, with a calendar tick, we can shed our accreted sins.
But to shed sins, we want repentance, not denial. The old lesson of "if something doesn't work, let's do more of it" has to be grappled with but I see few yet up to the fight. Maybe that will come only after the next plunge in providence .
On Christmas Eve we walked under live oaks with Spanish moss fluttering. We spent the holiday in Tampa with more relatives and friends than we'd celebrated with in years. In shirtsleeves on Christmas Eve! What a blessing! And this even as we heard from family members in the Great Plains who shoveled out from snow drifts many feet high. Rumours of nephews hurling snowballs on rooftops nymphs cavorting with angels and antelopes atop hidden homesteads!
But now the bitterness begins for us in the Deep South: teens at night and near freezing during the days. Barely warm enough to thaw the birdbath, so we'll spread seeds and bread for wayward beasts, lading the hoarfrost with loot .
But what of ourselves? Except for the blindly hopeful, I see no one who honestly believes this year will bring boons. These seem dark times. We're all in the thickest part of the woods together, and no one knows the way no one has left a trail of crumbs to help us home again.
In the midst of the Christmas bustle, after having sketched pretty Jordan (aged 5!) as she was herself drawing Sponge Bob for her mom, I saw a new CD by Susan Boyle that was given to my cousin. "You've not heard of her?!" he asked. "No", I said, and before I knew it I had a Mac in my lap downloading her audition video from YouTube.
J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis often used the term "eucatastrophe" to describe an event that goes against all expectations one that gives us a sense of how things should be how they _ought_ to be in a world that seems too often have lost its sense of balance and virtue. And as I watched Susan Boyle and the judges, who clearly had little sympathy for her, I wondered how and why someone as seemingly simple and unassuming as this Scottish lass could garner the courage necessary to confront such a cynical world.
That is, until she opened her mouth and sang.
And with those first notes, all smirks and cynicism fell away. All one could do was listen, and it was like the gates of Heaven had opened. Luminance shone forth and burst upon judges and audience alike, and what had been a tawdry talent show was brushed with brilliance, grace gushing from this tiny figure on an immense stage.
This is eucatastrophe. This is divinity striking one unawares, reminding us that even in the worst of times and in the most hopeless of situations, beauty abounds.
We will need Susan Boyle in the coming months. Our trials are not over, and even if some of us can begin to rebuild in 2010, others will face fresh frustrations as the tides of politics and panic shift and pivot. With war bugles braying and political power grabs growing, we will need the light of Eärendil to guide ourselves by. We will need folks to sow breadcrumbs for themselves and others so that we can all find our way back home.
But most of all, we will need those occasional unexpected glimmers of grace and goodness. For these are the tokens that speak to us of evil passing away, and of the Shadow fading like a dark cloud before the coming of the dawn.
Idhrin-eden 'elir (Happy New Year!)
- Renowned medieval and fantasy scholar Amy Sturgis and I are in the final throes of assembling a new illustrated edition of Friedrich Heinrich Karl La Motte-Fouque'
- The folks at the Festival in the Shire just launched an online journal (http://www.festival
- The current issue of the "St. Austin Review (StAR)" (January/February)
- Volume 3 of "Silver Leaves", the journal of the White Tree Fund (http://www.whitetre
- The next full exhibition at Moreton in Marsh will be entitled "The Edge of the Wild", and will include art by Ted Nasmith, Ruth Lacon, Peter Pracownik, and myself. It will run Friday, March 26, 2010 at 7:30 pm through Monday, March 29, 2010 at 5:00 pm. You can find out more on Facebook by searching on "Edge of the Wild", or by checking out the ADC Books website at http://www.adcbooks
- The latest "Beyond Bree" calendar is out! It features artwork by myself, Ted Nasmith, Tim Kirk, Kay Woollard, Sylvia Hunnewell, Louise Ying Chen, Octo Kwan, plus more! To order yours, please contact Nancy Martsch at beyondbree@yahoo.
- The new Heren Istarion calendar is also out! Again designed by Phil and Megan Goss and set in Shire Reckoning format, it includes artwork by Henning Janssen, Ruth Lacon, and a little bit from me (including the cover image). For more info, contact Anthony and Jessica at www.herenistarion.
- For folks interested in original paintings and sketches or prints of my work, please take a look at the ADC Art and Books online catalog at www.adcbooks.