Tag Archives: 1947

Quest for Sita

Quest for Sita by Maurice Collis, with illustrations by Mervyn Peake, a 1947 hardcover from John Day Company, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Maurice Collis Mervyn Peake Quest for Sita from John Day

“Of Hanuman and the Divine Vultures, Jatayus and Sampati—of Ravana, the Dark Angel, and his Paradise at Lanka: Here is the central section of the Sanskrit epic, the Ramayana, as seen through the imagination of two master craftsmen.” — front cover

“Sita, the Helen of Sanskrit epic literature, who was carried off by the Dark Angel, Ravana, was also the cause and object of war. But the war for Helen of Troy was a war of mortal men; this epic struggle takes place among the immortals of a reincarnate world.

Following the course freely taken by many of his predecessors of Asia, Maurice Collis has here vivified the central section of the ancient classic narrative, the Ramayana. By passing it through his own lively imagination, he has brought about a delicate rendering of one of the world’s great myths. Told with an art of narrative which, though perfected in the West, is adapted to its eastern theme, he has preserved in the main the outlines of Rama’s quest for Sita.

The drawings of Mervyn Peake, whose interpretations of the episodes are no less subtle than Mr. Collis’ own adaptation, are less illustrations of the text than they are his own quest to make Sita vivid to us.” — flap copy