[San Francisco]: [Printed at The Greenwood Press, bound by the Schuberth Bookbindery], 1983. Quandt, Elizabeth. Limited Edition. Hardcover. One of 125 copies, quarto size, 96 pp., with prospectus. Fine. Item #20072403
This lovely, elegantly understated book epitomizes the soul of a "fine press" book; poetry by an important but not widely-known author, the finest work by an highly-regarded small private press, with simple copperplate etchings that perfectly complement the text. As set forth in the prospectus: "This edition...is a collaboration between typographer-printer [Jack Stauffacher] and the California artist, Elizabeth Quandt."
Francis Ponge (1899-1988), was known for his prose poems which looked into the depths of "things" - rain, bread, a shell. "For Ponge, all objects 'yearn to express themselves, and they mutely await the coming of the word so that they may reveal the hidden depths of their being' " (n.b., quote by Richard Stamelman in "Books Abroad", as cited on the web site of the Poetry Foundation). Ponge was the third recipient of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (1974), was awarded the French Academy’s grand prize for poetry (1972), and the Grand Prize of the Society of Letters (1985).
The Greenwood Press was owned and run by Jack Werner Stauffacher (1920-2017) who was renowned for "his passion for the written word and the ability for type to contribute to the emotive quality of text" (Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Curator of Architecture and Design, SFMOMA, as quoted in Jack Stauffacher's obituary). Jack taught himself printing at the age of 13, and "never looked back". In 1955 he received a Fulbright grant for three years of study in Florence, Italy, under the Italian printing masters Giovanni Mardersteig (Officina Bodoni) and Alberto Tallone (Alberto Tallone Editore), returning to San Francisco where he would spend the rest of his career producing the finest small press books.
Bound into the book as opening illustrations to each prose poem is a copperplate etching by Elizabeth Quandt (1922-1994), a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute who would later teach for over 25 years at Santa Rosa Junior College, with her work in the Bibliotheque Nationale, the Stanford University Art Museum, and the Library of Congress among others. Jack Stauffacher, in the Book Club of California book on his Greenwood Press (published 1999), said of her work "[s]urely such profound rapport as Elizabeth Quandt's is another way of showing the inner face of poetry. Her images are flawless in tone and color; they enter the heart of Ponge, drawn upon it" (ibid, p. 237).
___DESCRIPTION: Brown Ingres Tumba paper over boards with copper lettering stamped into the spine, the ten small etchings (plate sizes vary, most being approximately 4" by 3") opening each poem, each a single colour, in black, golds, greys, and reds, the prose poems presented with the original French on the left and the English translation on the right; handset Stempel Kis-Janson type on French Rives moldmade buff paper, quarto size (9 7/8" by 6 3/8"), unpaginated with forty-eight leaves. In a plain cardboard slipcase lined with light tan paper. Please note that the book differs from the description in "The History of The Greenwood Press" in several minor respects; the checklist calls for a spine label, this copy has the lettering stamped onto the spine; the checklist states the slipcase is covered in red-brown paper, this as described above; and the checklist states a slip of paper was enclosed with the author, title and copy number, which is not present. Prospectus is a single sheet folded once to four pages, red lettering on the first page "announc[ing]" the publication, short excerpt from the Introduction on the second page, particulars of the publication on the third page (including the publication date of "Summer Solstice 21 June 1983" and original price of $275.00), fourth page blank.
___CONDITION: Fine, with clean boards, perfectly straight corners without rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; clean, crisp and as new, still with the "tight" feel of an unread book. Slipcase near fine, still entire and sturdy, with minimal wear along the spine edges and two exceedingly short splits just beginning at the opening. Prospectus near fine, clean overall with a hint of dustiness to the outer pages, exceedingly light edgewear, two horizontal folds (likely original from mailing) and several shallow, unintended creases. A lovely example of this work, seemingly scarce in the marketplace with no copies online as of this writing.
___CITATIONS: A Typographic Journey, The History of The Greenwood Press, p. 260; web site of the Poetry Foundation.
___POSTAGE: International customers, please note that additional postage may apply as the standard does not always cover costs; please inquire for details.
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