The Raven: a Pop-up Book Brings Edgar Allan Poe’s Classic Supernatural Poem to 3D Paper Life

You know a sto­ry has stay­ing pow­er not just when when we keep telling it decades and even cen­turies after its com­po­si­tion, but when we keep telling it in new forms. Even when Edgar Allan Poe set his lit­er­ary sights on writ­ing a poem that would win both high crit­i­cal praise and a wide pop­u­lar audi­ence back in 1845, he could hard­ly have imag­ined that it would still bring haunt­ed delight to its read­ers, lis­ten­ers and even view­ers more than 170 years lat­er. But The Raven does endure, not just in the var­i­ous celebri­ty read­ings we’ve fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture but in numer­ous illus­trat­ed edi­tions, a beloved Simp­sons seg­ment, and now even a pop-up book.

Though The Raven: a Pop-up Book, illus­trat­ed and designed by Christo­pher Wormell and David Pel­ham, adapts Poe’s work of super­nat­ur­al verse into a per­haps unex­pect­ed medi­um, it does so with thor­ough­ness indeed.

Flip through it as do the hands in the video above, you’ll find spring­ing to paper life before you not just the poem’s lovelorn nar­ra­tor and the talk­ing crow who pays him a vis­it, but every ele­ment of the set­ting as well, from the fur­ni­ture and oth­er objects of the nar­ra­tor’s study — the vel­vet chair, the books, the bust of Pal­las, the lock­et with the image of lost Lenore — to the sea­side cas­tle in which this vision of the sto­ry locates it.

Those of us who haven’t opened a pop-up book since child­hood might be sur­prised to see how far its art has come. Not only would the illus­tra­tions of The Raven: a Pop Up Book hold up in a mere two dimen­sions as well, they inter­lock in three to form rel­a­tive­ly com­plex geo­met­ric struc­tures, ones that some­times move with an almost eerie hint of nat­u­ral­ness. (You may, as I did, want to watch the nar­ra­tor open his lock­et-hold­ing hand more than once.) What’s more, the design allows view­ing from more than one angle, pro­vid­ing details that those who only look at the book straight on will nev­er see. Using the archa­ic apos­tro­phe of which Poe him­self might have approved, Boing Boing’s Cory Doc­torow rec­om­mends the book “if you’re gear­ing up for Hal­lowe’en and want to get your kids in the spir­it of things” — and espe­cial­ly if those kids wrong­ly believe them­selves too old for pop-up books or too 21st-cen­tu­ry for Poe. Get your copy of  The Raven: a Pop Up Book here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Gus­tave Doré’s Splen­did Illus­tra­tions of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (1884)

Édouard Manet Illus­trates Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, in a French Edi­tion Trans­lat­ed by Stephane Mal­lar­mé (1875)

A Read­ing of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in 100 Celebri­ty Voic­es

Edgar Allan Poe’s the Raven: Watch an Award-Win­ning Short Film That Mod­ern­izes Poe’s Clas­sic Tale

The Simp­sons Present Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” and Teach­ers Now Use It to Teach Kids the Joys of Lit­er­a­ture

Hear Clas­sic Read­ings of Poe’s “The Raven” by Vin­cent Price, James Earl Jones, Christo­pher Walken, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee & More

1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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