The Stress of Her Regard
Powers' wonderful vampyre novel quite sets itself apart from other works of this genre. This is no clichéd story of fanged ghouls and Transylvanian castles. Instead we have one of the clearest examples of this author's talent for taking historical fact and magical fiction and joining them seamlessly to give his readers a version of events so plausible in its strangeness that in a certain light, from a certain angle, it might just have been what really happened.
In The Stress Of Her Regard, Powers takes yet another trip to the early 19th century (cf The Anubis Gates and On Stranger Tides). We find ourselves in the company of the Romantics – Byron, Shelley and Keats. The story concerns their encounters with "la belle dame sans merci" – the poets muse. This mythical and it is she that is responsible for Shelley's drowning on his voyage from Leghorn to Le Spezia and for Keats' death in Rome of tuberculosis. Into this magical maelstrom Powers drops his protagonist, Michael Crawford. As with other Powers' central characters, Crawford is drawn into this world through events and actions beyond his control. An "innocent" at the beginning of the story, Crawford is buffeted, battered and maimed along the way, yet somehow manages to emerge in tact, a better man.
The Charnel House Limited Edition
The Stress of Her Regard was first issued in 1989 as a limited edition, published in two states by Charnel House, a speciality publisher who at the time were very much a fledgling outfit, but who have gone on to produce some of the most stunning collectible volumes produced in the last two decades. The Stress of Her Regard was their début production.
Charnel House released The Stress of Her Regard in two limited states. 26 lettered copies were produced. They were hand bound in full Morocco leather, each copy being issued in a different colour binding and featuring on the cover an illustration of a puppeteer at work stamped in silver foil. The book carried the ISBN 0-927389-00-2 and the original price of this edition was $400.
My grateful thanks to Chris Trent and John Bierer for the images of the black and grey copies detailed below. The black copy – letter V – owned by Chris also contains the fascinating photographs shown above, which picture all the lettered copies laid out in all their rainbow glory prior to dispatch.
There were also a further 500 signed and numbered copies issued, bound in denim that was streaked by hand in a bathtub by Charnel House's Joe Stefko. These copies were issued in a denim slipcase. They carried the ISBN 0-927389-01-0 and were priced at $125.00.
All these Charnel House editions feature an introduction by Dean R Koontz and an afterword by James P Blaylock. They are signed by all the contributors on a limitation sheet of paper thin sliced wood!
If you are interested in locating one of these highly collectable Charnel House editions, follow this link to the Advanced Book Exchange to see what is currently on offer. Copies occasionally come up on eBay too.
Click here to read an exclusive article by Charnel House founder, Joe Stefko written especially for this site in which he discusses his relationship with Tim Powers and the beautiful limited editions created by Charnel House.
Artwork from the Charnel House Edition
Powers provided a large number of drawings and illustrations for the Charnel House edition of The Stress of Her Regard. He also wrote an article entitled "A note on the illustrations" which was included. Though the drawings themselves were reproduced in all the copies, the original drawings were laid into tissue paper covers and presented with twelve of the lettered leather bound editions.
- Below Left: A self portrait by Powers of himself as Lord Byron. My thanks to Barry R.Levin for the copy of this image.
- Below Right: A Powers drawing entitled "Crawford in the Nefando Den" was laid into the grey 26 pictured above. Huge thanks to John Bierer for scanning it for the site.
And here are a couple of interesting images once again courtesy of John Bierer. Both are Powers drawings from John's set of proof pages for the Charnel House editions.
- Above: A scribbled drawing of a boat on stormy waters with the caption "Shelley Dying"
- Below:A Powers drawing captioned "Byron Evaluating the Wine"!! The round "potatohead" figure and ajoining handwritten dedication are by Jim Blaylock.
US Trade and Mass Market Editions
Released at virtually the same time as the Charnel House edition, was the trade first edition, a hard cover released by Ace Books. The wonderful wrap around cover art seen above was by Jim Gurney. ISBN 0-441-79055-0, this release was issued at $17.95
This artwork was used in again for the Ace mass market paperback which followed in 1991. ISBN 0-441-79097-6, cover price $4.95. This edition is pictured below. Shown also is the uncorrected proof of the hard cover (here a link to find a copy of this proof via ABE). Long out of print, you can search for copies of the Ace edition is eBay
A trade paperback edition was announced by Babbage Press two or three years ago, but I understand that this deal eventually lapsed. The rights reverted and Powers sold the book on to Tachyon Publications (who published a Powers short story collection, Strange Itineraries in 2005) who will be publishing their trade paperback edition in the second half of 2008.
You can pre-order the Tachyon Press edition by following this link through to Amazon.com.
In the UK, The Stress Of Her Regard was published in October 1991 by HarperCollins. Released both as a hard cover, (ISBN 0-246-13153-5, cover price £13.99) and a trade paperback (ISBN 0-246-13425-9, cost £8.99). The stunning cover art was by Mark Salwowski. The UK mass market paperback was issued by Grafton (by this time an imprint of HarperCollins). The ISBN was 0-586-07283-7 and the cover price £5.99. Both these UK editions can be quite difficult to get hold of on the collectors market. Try this link to ABE to see if any are currently available.
That there has not been a UK reissue (or a US one for that matter!) since the early nineties is mind-boggling! Particularly since many Powers fans cite this novel as their favourite.
The Stress of Her Regard received the following accolades.
Foreign Language Editions
The Stress of Her Regard has been published in the following languages…
- French - Le Poids de Son Regard – published by Edition J'Ai Lu, Paris in 1990. This edition was reissued in 1994 with a slightly variant cover layout. Both releases were small format mass market paperbacks. The translation was by Pierre-Paul Durastanti.
- German - Die Kalte Braut – Wilhem Heyne Verlag, Munich, 1991. Mass market paperback. Translation by Michael Windgassen. Cover art by Dieter Rottermund. ISBN 3-453-05031-2. Cover price DM 16.80.
- Spanish - La Fuerza de Su Mirada has been issued in Spain in three separate editions. The first edition was a hard cover published in 1992 by Ediciones Martinez Rocha. This was followed the same year by a book club edition, also released in hard cover, by Círculo de lectores. Most recently (2004) Gigamesh – a publisher based in Barcelona who have long championed Powers's work in Spanish translation reissued the book in trade paperback. The book club edition (above centre) is, I think, possibly the scarcest of all Powers editions – it is extremely difficult to locate – but not impossible! I managed it!!
- Italian- Lamia - a trade paperback edition published Fanucci, Rome, in 1992. Translation by Bernardo Cicchetti. ISBN 88-347-0357 -X
- Japanese - Ishi No Yume was published in two separate small format mass market paperback volumes by Hayakawa Publishing of Tokyo in May 1993. The translationwas by Asai Osamu. ISBN 4-15-020177-3 (Vol 1) and 4-15-020178-1 (Vol 2).
- Polish - Groza Jej Spojrzenia was published in 2001 by Zysk I S-Ka, Warsaw, this mass market paperback edition featured the same Mark Salwowski artwork as the UK edition.