The Nibelungenlied, Translated by Margaret Armour, Illustrations by Edy Legrand, Limited Editions Club (1960)

The Nibelungenlied is an epic poem, the work of an anonymous poet from sometime around 1200 A.D. (though the story is based on oral traditions from the fifth or sixth century), in Middle High German. A very tragic work, the story tells of Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, his murder, and of his wife Kriemhild‘s revenge. It has a very bloody conclusion, leaving little room for hope.  The Nibelungenlied unifies actual historical figures and myths/legands and from the distant past into an epic poem that is quintessentially German in character; so much so that imagery from The Nibelungenlied has often found itself woven into German nationalism. The Nibelungenlied served as source material for Richard Wagner‘s famous Der Ring des Nibelungen.

The Limited Editions Club (LEC) edition of The Nibelungenlied is fabulous. Published in May of 1960, it includes 23 line and wash drawings by Edy Legrand, fantastically reproduced with hand-coloring through stencils that makes the color jump from the page. Legrand illustrated ten books for the LEC, with this certainly being one of the best. The LEC uses the translation by Margaret Armour and includes and excellent introduction by Franz Schoenberner. As this can usually be found in fine condition for under $100, it is a generally affordable example highlighting the excellent work of the Limited Editions Club.

About the Edition

  • Illustrations by Edy Legrand
  • Translation from the German by Margaret Armour
  • Introduction by Franz Schoenberner
  • Made at the ancient printing house of Joh. Enschede En Zonen in Haarlem-Holland from the typographic plans of Jan Van Krimpen (his eighth and last for LEC)
  • Romulus, 14 point size on 16 point base on Simili Japon paper produced at the Royal Paper Mill by Van Gelder & Zonen N.V. of Ansterdam – Holland
  • Title and Initials drawn by S.L. Hartz
  • Illustrations reproduced by The Photogravure & Color Company in New York and hand-colored through stencils in the studio of Walter Fischer
  • Binding designed by Arnold Bank; done by Russell-Rutter Company of New York on Rache-black fabric stamped in rust and gold
  • 7 3/4″ x 11 3/4″, 312 pages
  • Limited to 1500 copies, mine is #447
  • Signed by Legrand

Pictures

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The Nibelungenlied, LImited Editions Club, Slipcase
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Slipcase Macro
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Book in Slipcase
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Spine and Front Cover
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Spine
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Front Cover
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Side View
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Title Page
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Title Page
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Contents
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, List of Illustrations
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #1 (Introduction)
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustrations #1
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustrations #2
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #2
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Macro of Sample Text #2
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #3
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #3 (Macro)
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Sample Text #4
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Sample Illustration #4
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Colophon
The Nibelungenlied, Limited Editions Club, Colophon Signature Macro

7 thoughts on “The Nibelungenlied, Translated by Margaret Armour, Illustrations by Edy Legrand, Limited Editions Club (1960)

  1. I agree with Chris that this LEC can be found in Fine condition for under $100 and with Neil that to make this book today it would have to be sold for much more than $500–in fact I’d say with the hand-colored illustrations, letterpress, signature etc., it would probably have to sell for at least $1500. I also agree that these quibbles over condition are somewhat irrelevant, as I have bought books directly from the publisher with worse bumps than what are pictured here (but again, what does that have to do with appreciating the achievement, which is what this blog is about).

    dlphcoraci, to take your lead in being opinionated (and more power to you!) I have to say that I find listening to Wagner in general, and The Ring in particular, my own equivalent to a undergoing a few days of the strappado.

    For those who have a similar reaction to Wagner, may I suggest one of my own favorite artistic representations of the Nibelungen material, Fritz Lang’s masterful two-part silent film released as two complete and somewhat long epics “Siegfried’s Death” and “Kriemhild’s Revenge.” For those who admire Lang’s “Metropolis” I can only say that this is, in many respects, a more skillfully constructed work, but with the same incredible visual style, and more faithful to the literary source than Wagner’s operas.

  2. This is one of my favorite LEC’s and Edy Legrand’s illustrations are grand, indeed. For those readers who wish to familiarize themselves with the musical aspect of this legend (Richard Wagner’s ‘Der Ring des Niebelungen’) I have two suggestions:

    1. To hear the four operas that comprise Wagner’s Ring, only one set will do (talk about opinionated !!) and that is the legendary set with Georg Solti conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (VPO) for London Decca records (1958 through 1965). This was the first complete (in studio) recording of Wagner’s Ring and the set remains a technological marvel. The VPO was at the top of its form — one of the world’s greatest orchestras — and the Sofiensaal concert hall has legendary acoustics. This was also the golden age of stereo recording and for audiophiles the recorded sound from LPs (yes, real records !!) produced by Mercury, RCA Victor and London/ Decca remain the Holy Grail.

    Most important of all, the cast assembled for this prodigious recording project has never been equalled nor will it ever be. There are few great Wagnerian opera singers nowadays and it is near impossible to assemble the best of the current Wagnerians and have them commit to a seven year project. The London Decca cast, which included Birgit Nilsson, Kirsten Flagstad, Hans Hotter, Gottlob Frick, Wolfgang Windgassen, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (R.I.P), et al, reads like a Who’s Who of great Wagnerian opera singers of the twentieth century.

    2. For those with a more literary bent, there is a marvelous book which describes the trials and tribulations of this pioneering recording project:

    Ring Resounding by John Culshaw (Viking Press, New York, 1967)

    John Culshaw was the classical music director for Decca London records and he was responsible for organizing, supervising and recording the Ring with Solti and the VPO. The book contains many fascinating behind-the-scenes stories of the great artists involved but, first and foremost, it is a stirring story of a professional, dedicated recording team handling unforeseen logistical challenges in making a groundbreaking recording.

  3. Don – it would still be a bargain at $200 – as for the rest of your message, it’s relevance to this article eludes me.

  4. I have this book in both the LEC and HP versions. One in Fine to Mint condition generally goes for more than $100. The one shown here by Chris is not in Fine condition with a serious bump at the head of the spine. Not trying to be argumentative, but Fine condition means no flaws or mars. The HP is also a very large and beautiful book. Not as nice as the LEC, but still very nice. My HP version is for sale. Anyone interested, email me donald.floyd1741@att.net. Excellent price for an HP in Mint condition.

    1. Did not claim mine was mint….but I still do claim that you can almost always find this in fine condition for less than $100. I see it all the time, including in my local store. And, btw, for someone who also collects telescopes and wine (which have even more stringent snob factor for what perfect and near perfect means, for 99.99999998% of people into these things, arguments on some of this is not relevant.

  5. Lovely book ! My jaw dropped when you wrote that copies of this go for $100 – you couldn’t make a book like this nowadays for less than $500 !!

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