[Santa Cruz, California]: Nawakum Press [in collaboration with the Foolscap Press], 2019. Wood, Thomas. Limited Edition. Hardcover. No. 8 of 36 copies, folio size, 30 pp., signed by Thomas Wood, in a double panel box, with prospectus. Fine. Item #21081402
Bruno Schulz (1892-1942), tragically murdered by a Gestapo officer in 1942, is considered one of the greatest Polish authors of the 20th century; even though his remaining body of work is, by many standards, small, with several of his works (including an unfinished novel, "The Messiah") having been lost in the Holocaust.
Both an author and an artist, Schulz had an "extraordinary imagination" which shines forth in this work, "The Republic of Dreams", one of the short stories in the two published volumes of such which exist. A new translation of his work was done in 2018 by Madeline Levine (which translation was the winner of the "Found in Translation Award" in 2019) - this story being her translation. As quoted in the prospectus, Levine stated "In a sense, in order to find an English voice for Bruno I had to suppress my critical habits, hold my breath, dive deep and start swimming."
This publication by the Nawakum Press was made in collaboration with the Foolscap Press, and the combined talents of Nawakum Press's David Pascoe, and Foolscap Press's Peggy Gotthold and Lawrence Van Velzer created a stunning production throughout. One begins the journey by opening the double panel box, covered with shimmering Japanese cloth, the box secured by rare earth magnets; the front board of the book covered in a metallic decorative paper, the etchings are interleaved with the text and rise in height as one progresses, the text is presented in both English (printed in black) and Polish (printed in green) - one almost has the sense of watching a play unfold with the set and costumes bringing the text to sumptuous life.
The three etchings are by Thomas Wood (1951-2022) "whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally" (n.b., from the web site of the Harris Harvey Gallery), with Wood's signature at the colophon. Per the prospectus, Wood's art "brings easily recognizable elements of nature and civilization into strange concrete fusion, often combining moral and metaphysical ideas in a delicate dance that at once both challenges and delights." This particularly the case with these three etchings, which in stark detail bring the fantasy world of Schulz into an erie life, where one enters a universe peopled with heads without bodies, grotesque plants, strange beings, bugs and elves and devils and humans and fish and.... The final etching includes gradations of colour with the universe one is in having a hole at the very top, through which other strange beings peer as though they exist in a larger, outer universe...
Published in an edition of thirty-six copies (of which only thirty were for sale) and now scarce in the trade, as of this writing, there are no copies online and no auction records; our search of OCLC finds nine copies in institutional hands, leaving just twenty-one copies available for private ownership.
___DESCRIPTION: Hardbound, the front board covered in metallic decorative paper with a small stamped design in copper, the back board covered in copper silk fabric, the shelfback covered with black paper, the "pastedown endpapers" being of green suede, upon opening the front board one discovers the first of the three etchings (etching size 6 1/2" by 4"), followed by the title page (in English) in black and green with the device of the Nawakum Press, after an additional two leaves one comes across the second of the three etchings (etching size 6 1/8" by 7 3/4 "), this followed by seven leaves of text, after which is the last of the three etchings (with colour, as described above), the top of which extends above the text pages (etching size 6 3/4" by 11 1/4"), followed by the final four leaves of text (note that the etchings have a separate tissue guard, however, laid into the book is a note from the publisher that this "is for shipping purposes only" and advising they should be removed and discarded); folio size (15" by 9 1/8"), pagination: [i-vi, being the title page in English, followed by the title page in Polish, followed by the dedication page with a quote by Czelaw Milosz, from "And Yet the Books"]  2-21 [1, blank] [1, colophon, signed by Thomas Wood] [1, blank]. Loosely laid in is the prospectus, a single sheet folded once to four pages, the front in green and black, information on the book on the inside two pages, final page blank, measuring 9" by 11". Housed in the double panel box as described above, the exterior covered with Japanese cloth and the interior lined with green suede.
___CONDITION: Fine, with clean boards, the paper and cloth covering the boards clean and without wear, straight corners without rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, the ink on the etchings deep, entirely free of prior owner markings; other than a mere hint of bumping to the top front corner and a small crease to one of the tissue guards the entire production, including the prospectus and the box, is as new.
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