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Gryphon Hardcover – 31 October 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 55 ratings

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Product details

  • Hardcover : 64 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0811831620
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0811831628
  • Dimensions : 20.57 x 1.78 x 20.57 cm
  • Publisher : Chronicle Books (CA) (31 October 2001)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 55 ratings

Product description

Review

VANCOUVER SUN
Ten years ago, Nick Bantock--"until then an illustrator and creator of pop-up books--"shot to sudden fame with "Griffin & Sabine, a love story unlike any ever published. It was a beautiful, enigmatic series of original postcards and illustrated letters (which had to be removed from their envelopes to be read), exchanged by Griffin Moss, a London illustrator, and the mysterious Sabine Strohem, unknown to Griffin but sharing a psychic awareness with him. It appealed to readers' sense of romance--"and their voyeuristic inclinations.

It quickly became a best-seller, as did "Sabine's Notebook and "The Golden Mean, completing what became known as the "Griffin & Sabine trilogy.

While enormous attention has been paid to the quality of the illustrations and the love story at the heart of the books, little mention has been made of the trilogy's complex psychological subtext. A Jungian reading would suggest that Griffin and Sabine are manifestations of opposing aspects of a single personality--"Bantock's, perhaps.

The author/illustrator continued this psychological exploration in later books, including "The Forgetting Room and "The Venetian's Wife, and it is an exploration to which he returns in his brilliant new illustrated novel, "The Gryphon. The first book in a new trilogy, it brings back "Griffin and Sabine and shows Bantock upping the ante significantly.

"The Gryphon begins by introducing two new correspondents--"Matthew Sedon, a young archeologist at work in Alexandria, and his relatively new-found love Isabella de Reims, a student in Paris. To conquer the distance between them, the pair exchange postcards and letters. (Bantock neatly deals with the nigglingquestion of "Why letters in the age of e-mail?" by emphasizing the romance of the printed word. Besides, Isabella's computer is on its last legs.)

It is not crucial to have read the original trilogy to enjoy "The Gryphon. Bantock summarizes the plot with a brief introduction and subtle comments. A close re-reading of the first three books will, however, reap significant benefits in the recognition of recurring patterns and motifs.

The first of these patterns is Sabine's introduction. In a conscious echo of her first approach to Griffin Moss, Matthew receives a postcard from Sabine, whom he has never met, yet who nevertheless seems to know much about him. The first postcard Matthew receives is, in fact, the final postcard of "The Golden Mean.

Over the course of a few more exchanges, Sabine directs Matthew to pick up a package, being held for safekeeping in Alexandria, which contains the original correspondence of Griffin and Sabine. She urges the young archeologist to read the letters. "Do not be put off by the personal nature of these documents. There is a much broader significance."

With "The Gryphon, Bantock is committed to shifting away from "the personal nature" and exploring "the broader significance." As a result, the novel is more complex than any in the previous trilogy. The addition of a new pair of lovers complicates the correspondence (letters and postcards crossing back and forth among four characters), but their inclusion, and the nature of the new couple, signals a deliberate shift in emphasis.

Where much of the pleasure of the first trilogy lay in the anticipation of Griffin and Sabine's first meeting, Matthew and Isabella are already intimate, already in love.By removing that anticipation and acknowledging the first set of correspondence, Bantock is free to more directly explore psychological depths, offering a vivid Jungian, alchemical account of transmutation and transformation.

That's not to say that "The Gryphon is dry and scholarly. Far from it. It's a heady brew of love and separation, passion and mystery. It's a breezy read, for the act of reading someone else's mail tends to bring out the furtive and speedy in even the most careful of readers. The correspondence can be devoured in a single sitting.

But such a reading, however satisfying, is superficial. It does a disservice to the integrity of Bantock's vision. His art (on postcards, stamps, envelopes and ephemera) is far from window dressing or gimmickry. The illustrations are integral to the novel and provide a second level of narrative. They echo, in an allusive rather than an illustrative manner, developments in the text.

Simultaneously, the pictures develop a complex language of symbols and motifs that speaks more directly to the reader's subconscious than words do. This pictorial language is replete with angels and animals, fragmentary maps and figures from myth.

Either the themes of transformation, growth and transmutation are brought vividly into focus through this visual lexicon... or they're just interesting pictures, illustrating a heady, romantic and mysterious story of two sets of distant lovers, destined to be together. It's up to each reader to decide upon his or her approach to "The Gryphon (and all of Bantock's books).

With a narrative as intriguing as "The Gryphon's, and with characters as vivid and fully realized as Griffin, Matthew, Isabella and Sabine, most readers will be fully content. However, those who choose to explore the mysterious realms of the human soul are fortunate indeed to have Bantock as their guide and trickster.

"Robert J. Wiersema is a frequent contributor to "The Vancouver Sun.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Reading Bantock's latest lavishly illustrated novel, the first in his new Morning Star trilogy and the continuation of the saga of Griffin and Sabine, is like going on a delightful treasure hunt. Here an exotic photograph tucked in an exquisitely designed envelope, there a charming ticket receipt for a mysterious packet of letters. The author's skill at revealing plot through allowing readers the voyeuristic thrill of literally opening and reading other people's mail, and his considerable artistic talents are the source of the book's originality. Fans of Bantock's popular Griffin & Sabine trilogy will be delighted by that duo's reappearance here. Matthew Sedon, an Egypt-based archeologist, receives a note one day from Sabine, a woman he doesn't remember ever meeting, instructing him to pick up a packet of letters in storage in Alexandria. These letters are the love correspondence of Griffin and Sabine. When Matthew shares them with his grad student girlfriend in Paris, Isabella de Reims, she discovers that they refer to the bizarre visions she sees in waking dreams. Newcomers may feel left out by references to material from the previous books, and the epistolary form has its drawbacks, glossing over key information and hinting at tantalizing things to come. Thought there's not much the author can do with 56 pages, nearly half of them pure illustration, the growing passion between Matthew and Isabella portends futureintrigue in this new trilogy.

LIBRARY JOURNAL
Bantock re-creates the intrigue of "Griffin & Sabine, his hugely popular first trilogy, in the first of his next trilogy, "The Gryphon. Here we are introduced to two new characters, Matthew and Isabella, whose love and correspondence mirror that of Griffin and Sabine. Through a series of postcards and letters, the four characters communicate across oceans and realms to describe a world of beauty, fantasy, love, and mystery. Bantock's drawings, collages, and paintings are captivating and original, depicting the places and events that the characters write about and re-creating the haunting visions that plague Isabella. The letters and notes, many of which are removable, will give readers the sense that they are experiencing the story with the characters, although the small and separate pieces could get lost or stolen. Recommended as a gift rather than a circulating item.

UMBRELLA
"The Gryphon announces that this is a new series called the "Morning Star trilogy, in which Matthew and Isabella, long-distance lovers, find themselves entwined not only in each other's lives, but also in a perilous and alluring intrigue in a new romantic Egyptian locale. There is more mythic drama, waking dreams. And yet another extraordinary correspondence, 65 cards and letters amassed between the two lovers, who meet in Alexandria. Many of the postcards are illustrated on the page, but every so often, there is a real envelope, or an actual folded letter. Once again the magic, once again the mystery in this beautiful presentation. Just think of all the gifts you can give. And there will be more in the future.

VANCOUVER SUN
Ten years ago, Nick Bantock until then an illustrator and creator of pop-up books shot to sudden fame with "Griffin & Sabine, " a love story unlike any ever published. It was a beautiful, enigmatic series of original postcards and illustrated letters (which had to be removed from their envelopes to be read), exchanged by Griffin Moss, a London illustrator, and the mysterious Sabine Strohem, unknown to Griffin but sharing a psychic awareness with him. It appealed to readers' sense of romance and their voyeuristic inclinations.

It quickly became a best-seller, as did "Sabine's Notebook" and "The Golden Mean, " completing what became known as the "Griffin & Sabine" trilogy.

While enormous attention has been paid to the quality of the illustrations and the love story at the heart of the books, little mention has been made of the trilogy's complex psychological subtext. A Jungian reading would suggest that Griffin and Sabine are manifestations of opposing aspects of a single personality Bantock's, perhaps.

The author/illustrator continued this psychological exploration in later books, including "The Forgetting Room" and "The Venetian's Wife, " and it is an exploration to which he returns in his brilliant new illustrated novel, "The Gryphon." The first book in a new trilogy, it brings back "Griffin and Sabine" and shows Bantock upping the ante significantly.

"The Gryphon" begins by introducing two new correspondents Matthew Sedon, a young archeologist at work in Alexandria, and his relatively new-found love Isabella de Reims, a student in Paris. To conquer the distance between them, the pair exchange postcards and letters. (Bantock neatly deals with the niggling question of "Why letters in the age of e-mail?" by emphasizing the romance of the printed word. Besides, Isabella's computer is on its last legs.)

It is not crucial to have read the original trilogy to enjoy "The Gryphon." Bantock summarizes the plot with a brief introduction and subtle comments. A close re-reading of the first three books will, however, reap significant benefits in the recognition of recurring patterns and motifs.

The first of these patterns is Sabine's introduction. In a conscious echo of her first approach to Griffin Moss, Matthew receives a postcard from Sabine, whom he has never met, yet who nevertheless seems to know much about him. The first postcard Matthew receives is, in fact, the final postcard of "The Golden Mean."

Over the course of a few more exchanges, Sabine directs Matthew to pick up a package, being held for safekeeping in Alexandria, which contains the original correspondence of Griffin and Sabine. She urges the young archeologist to read the letters. "Do not be put off by the personal nature of these documents. There is a much broader significance."

With "The Gryphon, " Bantock is committed to shifting away from "the personal nature" and exploring "the broader significance." As a result, the novel is more complex than any in the previous trilogy. The addition of a new pair of lovers complicates the correspondence (letters and postcards crossing back and forth among four characters), but their inclusion, and the nature of the new couple, signals a deliberate shift in emphasis.

Where much of the pleasure of the first trilogy lay in the anticipation of Griffin and Sabine's first meeting, Matthew and Isabella are already intimate, already in love. By removing that anticipation and acknowledging the first set of correspondence, Bantock is free to more directly explore psychological depths, offering a vivid Jungian, alchemical account of transmutation and transformation.

That's not to say that "The Gryphon" is dry and scholarly. Far from it. It's a heady brew of love and separation, passion and mystery. It's a breezy read, for the act of reading someone else's mail tends to bring out the furtive

VANCOUVER SUN
Ten years ago, Nick Bantock until then an illustrator and creator of pop-up books shot to sudden fame with Griffin & Sabine, a love story unlike any ever published. It was a beautiful, enigmatic series of original postcards and illustrated letters (which had to be removed from their envelopes to be read), exchanged by Griffin Moss, a London illustrator, and the mysterious Sabine Strohem, unknown to Griffin but sharing a psychic awareness with him. It appealed to readers' sense of romance and their voyeuristic inclinations.

It quickly became a best-seller, as did Sabine's Notebook and The Golden Mean, completing what became known as the Griffin & Sabine trilogy.

While enormous attention has been paid to the quality of the illustrations and the love story at the heart of the books, little mention has been made of the trilogy's complex psychological subtext. A Jungian reading would suggest that Griffin and Sabine are manifestations of opposing aspects of a single personality Bantock's, perhaps.

The author/illustrator continued this psychological exploration in later books, including The Forgetting Room and The Venetian's Wife, and it is an exploration to which he returns in his brilliant new illustrated novel, The Gryphon. The first book in a new trilogy, it brings back Griffin and Sabine and shows Bantock upping the ante significantly.

The Gryphon begins by introducing two new correspondents Matthew Sedon, a young archeologist at work in Alexandria, and his relatively new-found love Isabella de Reims, a student in Paris. To conquer the distance between them, the pair exchange postcards and letters. (Bantock neatly deals with the niggling question of "Why letters in the age of e-mail?" by emphasizing the romance of the printed word. Besides, Isabella's computer is on its last legs.)

It is not crucial to have read the original trilogy to enjoy The Gryphon. Bantock summarizes the plot with a brief introduction and subtle comments. A close re-reading of the first three books will, however, reap significant benefits in the recognition of recurring patterns and motifs.

The first of these patterns is Sabine's introduction. In a conscious echo of her first approach to Griffin Moss, Matthew receives a postcard from Sabine, whom he has never met, yet who nevertheless seems to know much about him. The first postcard Matthew receives is, in fact, the final postcard of The Golden Mean.

Over the course of a few more exchanges, Sabine directs Matthew to pick up a package, being held for safekeeping in Alexandria, which contains the original correspondence of Griffin and Sabine. She urges the young archeologist to read the letters. "Do not be put off by the personal nature of these documents. There is a much broader significance."

With The Gryphon, Bantock is committed to shifting away from "the personal nature" and exploring "the broader significance." As a result, the novel is more complex than any in the previous trilogy. The addition of a new pair of lovers complicates the correspondence (letters and postcards crossing back and forth among four characters), but their inclusion, and the nature of the new couple, signals a deliberate shift in emphasis.

Where much of the pleasure of the first trilogy lay in the anticipation of Griffin and Sabine's first meeting, Matthew and Isabella are already intimate, already in love. By removing that anticipation and acknowledging the first set of correspondence, Bantock is free to more directly explore psychological depths, offering a vivid Jungian, alchemical account of transmutation and transformation.

That's not to say that The Gryphon is dry and scholarly. Far from it. It's a heady brew of love and separation, passion and mystery. It's a breezy read, for the act of reading someone else's mail tends to bring out the furtive

About the Author

Nick Bantock is the author of numerous illustrated novels, including Griffin & Sabine, Sabine's Notebook, The Golden Mean, The Gryphon, and Alexandria, which together spent 100 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Born in England, he now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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