New Cover for 'The Sybil' by PÄR LAGERKVIST (1891-1974) Nobel Prize in 1951(Literature)

5/3 found More images -

the images I'm finding are all inspiring - I must settle on something ...

The Wanderer (?)  - sculpture in NYC - genderless . adavantage

  Pan - the old goat

A sacrifcial Lamb ( Jesus?) ( sex object?)

and - the Classic - Oracle at Delphi

4/26/14: collecting more images

  1. Pan, the woods/goat/passion god 
  2. The wanderer ( legend, the Wandering Jew) 

Update:  4/26/14

I am going to put my updates in top-to-bottom, makes it easier for me, and maybe you.  History collects bottom up. 

After re-reading this short but dense novel, I have narrowed my image set: I did some work on one of my favorites - 

 The Sybil herself:   

I aslo need now to look for Bovines - 


Big story, little book -

When I first read this book, I was transformed.  A small book, only 154 pages, it held the biggest ideas so simply rendered, a myth, a parable, with  a depth only possible in the hands of a master stoyteller.  I only later found out what a huge effect it had on others that read it. 

Basic Themes:  this is NOT religious, but maybe spiritual 

  1. Passion, Betrayal, Despair
  2. Searching for Truth
  3. Love & Compassion, Anger & Remorse
  4. Loss & Survival/ Isolation
  5. Communication & Patience
  6. Culture & Politics
  7. Weird Gods, Pagan rituals

Story Elements:

  • 3 Un-named Characters - 1 man, 1 woman, 1 boy-man
  • Ancient Gods - Pan (lover & friend)
  • Guilt -ridden Man with Big Questions , few answers
  • Place & Time:  Mountain slopes above Delphi


  • Old Rome in the time of Christ (implied)
  • Hills, Caves, Mountain Goats
  • Temple & Temple servants
  • Painfull Expression - Eyes hollow, spirit Broken
  • Mother & Son, Goat God Lover

A brief summary of the story copied from one of over a hundred references I found:

"The Sibyl" introduces us to an old woman who, in her younger days, served as a pythia or high priestess in the temple of the oracle at Delphi. One day she is visited at her remote mountainside dwelling by a wandering Jew, who was turned away at the temple because the oracle could not give him the answers he seeks concerning his destiny. He relates his story to the woman, how he was cursed by the son of God when, not knowing his identity, the man refused to let him rest for a moment against the wall of his house. The unfortunate man is now doomed to wander the earth forever, immortal, without possibility of rest or happiness. His wife and child have left him, and he is unable to find joy or fulfilment in anything. His eyes are described as empty, dried-up wells.
The woman then tells her own story, about how she was chosen to be god's bride in the temple. Her relationship with her god is a disturbing one, passionate and violent, as she serves as a vessel through which Apollo speaks to the priests. She loves her god with a consuming fervor, but constantly feels more like an abandoned lover than a beloved bride. And when she explores the realms of human love with a man of the village, she must face the consequences of her betrayal of god. Driven from the temple by an angry mob, she seeks refuge in the mountains above the city, where she bears god's son, a witless boy who does nothing but sit all day in their hut, smiling vacantly at nothing.
As the man and woman share their stories, they contemplate the nature of god, and the nature of the relationship between the human and the divine. We see clearly that god is not always a benevolent force, but brings both joy and sorrow, both pleasure and pain into the world.

I love the story, and have a copy ( Vintage V-240, 1958) but first thought it was too ambitious - this work has spawned hundreds of thesis, reviews, plays, art and continues to inspire those who read it.

But once I collected the previous versions, I wanted to start.  The book deserves a makeover.

Step 1:  Research - I found 6 previous versions:

The copy I have has the 2-faced cover, the angry lady and the ghost - the last cover is the tarot-card like version, which offends my eye greatly, but that was those times (1970?) 

So, I went looking for images that tweaked my eye, and had elements I wanted to convey -

I'm looking for mood, mystery, a little pain, maybe, a sense of serious and mythical. :  The iconic 'Scream' was in the mix, but I discarded because it's just too familiar.


What I have left so far to work with:  these will be culled:

Set 1:

Set 2:

Set 3: :

 Set 4:

  Set 5:

  I do have my work cut out for me... this is too many pictures -

So far, I am liking some more than others, the edgier, more modern ones, for the sense of mystery they have, for me :

To be noted, there are 2 characters, without names. I may revise this set.  Opinions are welcome. 


  I also really like these, but maybe for a differnt project:





Please sign in or sign up to comment.