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The Wood Beyond the World (Wildside Fantasy) Paperback – 7 Apr 2005

3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 118 pages
  • Publisher: Wildside Press (7 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587152142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587152146
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,068,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“Robert Boenig's meticulously edited, beautifully annotated edition of William Morris’s late prose romance, The Wood Beyond the World, will satisfy any teacher or reader wanting to learn more about Morris’s preoccupations at the end of his life. Boenig’s introduction alone makes the edition necessary reading. The supplementary materials, ranging from Morris’s work on a translation of Beowulf to his essay on ‘The Socialist Ideal: Art,’ and works by contemporaries such as Marx, Ruskin, and Mallock, expand richly the ways in which this edition may be used.” — Barry Qualls, Rutgers University

“The first new scholarly edition in thirty years, and an admirable achievement.” — Robert Clark, University of East Anglia

"Robert Boenig's meticulously edited, beautifully annotated edition of William Morris's late prose romance, The Wood Beyond the World, will satisfy any teacher or reader wanting to learn more about Morris's preoccupations at the end of his life. Boenig's introduction alone makes the edition necessary reading. The supplementary materials, ranging from Morris's work on a translation of Beowulf to his essay on 'The Socialist Ideal: Art, ' and works by contemporaries such as Marx, Ruskin, and Mallock, expand richly the ways in which this edition may be used." -- Barry Qualls, Rutgers University

"The first new scholarly edition in thirty years, and an admirable achievement." -- Robert Clark, University of East Anglia --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

A groundbreaking fantasy novel, The Wood Beyond the World tells the story of a young man, Golden Walter, who finds himself in a strange and frightening world after being abandoned by his wife and lost at sea. The novel takes the form of Walter's quest for the visionary Maid that he sees at the beginning of his journey, and takes him from his failed marriage through temptation to emotional fulfillment. Set in Morris's imaginative recreation of a medieval world, the novel is full of vivid imagery and surprising emotional realism.

This edition collates for the first time the three early texts of the work. The introduction discusses the place of the book among Morris's other prose romances, the events of his life, and his activities as a visual artist and a socialist. The appendices provide excerpts from Morris's translation of Beowulf, other medieval texts read by Morris, and writings by his contemporaries on politics and aesthetics. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
The multitalented William Morris is reknowned for many things, but in literary circles he's known for having created the first real fantasy stories, even before Dunsany and Tolkien. Though heavy on prose and light on plot, "The Wood Beyond The World" is an intriguing look at the baby steps of the fantasy genre.

After a disastrous marriage to an unfaithful wife, Walter sails away on a ship, but catches a glimpse of a beautiful queenly woman, a misshapen dwarf, and a lovely young slave girl. When he arrives in a distant land, he encounters all three in a beautiful house in the Wood Beyond The World, where the sexy, manipulative Lady is currently living with a cold-hearted prince.

Walter stays there as a guest, and falls in love with the beautiful Maid, despite her mistress's jealousy. But the Lady has taken a liking to him, and despite his love for the Maid, Walter is drawn in by the Lady's magical charm. And breaking free of the jealous sorceress could be fatal for himself and the Maid -- even if they escape, they still have to deal with the savage wilderness of the Wood Beyond the World.

"The Wood Beyond the World" has the distinction of being the first fantasy-quest novel, although it hasn't had nearly the effect on fiction that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis have had. However, it is an interesting read, especially when one considers that Morris had no mold to work with -- he thought it all up himself.

Morris chose to write in a very formal style, with plenty of phrases like "then waxed Walter wood-wroth," whatever that means. It's not a light read, and it gives the story the feeling of a minor myth rather than a straightforward fairy tale.
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Format: Paperback
Golden Walter leaves his loving father and his loveless marriage to seek adventure in foreign lands. He has a vision of a stately woman accompanied by a dwarf and a beautiful maid, just as he's about to take ship. This vision haunts him on his travels and somehow, he is driven to seek these 'creatures'. His quest takes him to The Wood Beyond The World, where terrible dangers await him. He falls in love almost instantly with the first woman he meets there and it becomes clear that he was drawn to the house of 'The Mistress' by some kind of magical power, though no-one admits responsibility for taking this liberty. As difficult and hazardous as it was to get to the wood, he could find escape far more dangerous. And what might he find beyond The Wood Beyond The World? More dangerous adventures of course.

It's a short and simple story with no character development and very little explanation of why the things that happen happen. There are plenty of things you could criticise about it. It's not politically correct for one thing - the dwarfs are evil and ugly, a king is chosen partly on the basis of his physical beauty - that sort of thing. But whatever accusations might be thrown at Morris's fantasy stories, he was a trail-blazer, writing fantasy before there was a fantasy genre, laying the foundation stones for later fantasy writers. I love his stories and the archaized language he uses. There are some oddities, as the previous reviewer has mentioned. I looked up 'wood-wroth' in my best dictionary and the nearest I could find referred to wind and sea being moved to a state of turmoil and commotion; violently stormy. There's a wood of huge poplars on the land behind my garden and when there's a howling gale, they thrash about like a stormy sea.
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This is a fantasy written using deliberately archaic language (e.g. 'thou wouldst') which I found hard going at first. The aim is clearly to create a 'past times' setting of sailing ships and courtly love, without placing it in a specific historical period or exact place.
The hero, Walter, sails off on an adventure and eventually comes to another place where a Maid is being held in thrall by a Lady, who is both wicked and glamorous. This part of the story drew me in and reads like old Celtic folklore. However sadly the Lady is overthrown all too easily and the rest of the story presents our hero with a few dilemmas which are equally easily solved.
As a story therefore it is rather disappointing. However, it is worth reading as a piece of literary history, as it is said to have influenced both C.S. Lewis and Tolkien.
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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 July 2005
Format: Paperback
The multitalented William Morris is reknowned for many things, but in literary circles he's known for having created the first real fantasy stories, even before Dunsany and Tolkien. Though heavy on prose and light on plot, "The Wood Beyond The World" is an intriguing look at the baby steps of the fantasy genre.

After a disastrous marriage to an unfaithful wife, Walter sails away on a ship, but catches a glimpse of a beautiful queenly woman, a misshapen dwarf, and a lovely young slave girl. When he arrives in a distant land, he encounters all three in a beautiful house in the Wood Beyond The World, where the sexy, manipulative Lady is currently living with a cold-hearted prince.

Walter stays there as a guest, and falls in love with the beautiful Maid, despite her mistress's jealousy. But the Lady has taken a liking to him, and despite his love for the Maid, Walter is drawn in by the Lady's magical charm. And breaking free of the jealous sorceress could be fatal for himself and the Maid -- even if they escape, they still have to deal with the savage wilderness of the Wood Beyond the World.

"The Wood Beyond the World" has the distinction of being the first fantasy-quest novel, although it hasn't had nearly the effect on fiction that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis have had. However, it is an interesting read, especially when one considers that Morris had no mold to work with -- he thought it all up himself.

Morris chose to write in a very formal style, with plenty of phrases like "then waxed Walter wood-wroth," whatever that means. It's not a light read, and it gives the story the feeling of a minor myth rather than a straightforward fairy tale.
Read more ›
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