Paris: Editions Narcisse [printed by Lescaret], 1928. Alastair. Limited Edition. Wraps. No. 4 of of 300 copies, quarto size, 77 pp. Near fine. Item #CNJS08
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) remains to this day a household name, a master of mystery and the macabre. "Most famously, Poe completely transformed the genre of the horror story with his masterful tales of psychological depth and insight not envisioned in the genre before his time and scarcely seen in it since. Stories like 'The Tell-Tale Heart,' 'The Cask of Amontillado,' 'The Pit and the Pendulum,' 'The Masque of the Red Death,' and 'The Fall of the House of Usher' reveal Poe's talent at its height" (n.b., from the web site of the Poe Museum).
This short story, "The Fall of the House of Usher", first published in 1839 in "Gentleman's Magazine", is thought by many to be based on certain events which took place at an actual house in Boston, the "Hezekiah Usher House"; when the house was torn down in 1830, "two bodies were found embraced in a cavity in the cellar" (n.b., from Wiki).
With illustrations by "Alastair", the nickname used by Hans Henning Otto Harry Baron von Voight (1887-1969), a highly-talented man who in addition to being an artist was also a composer and dancer. His illustrations are heavily influenced by Aubrey Beardsley, with the look of Art Nouveau, often with a "perverse and sinister" feel - which perfectly compliments this text by Poe.
The publisher of this volume, "Editions Narcisse", was the name chosen for their first publishing venture by Harry Crosby (1898-1929) and his wife Caresse (1891-1970), who would later found the renowned Black Sun Press, "one of the most important small presses in Paris in the 1920s" (Wiki). The story behind Harry and Caresse is one of love and scandal, against the backdrop of WWI and the Jazz Age of Paris; Crosby met Ernest Hemingway in 1926 while skiing in Gstaad and in 1927 they visited Pamplona together for the running of the bulls.
___DESCRIPTION: String-bound with self-wraps, the front wrap with lettering in red and black, red and black ruled borders, back wrap with publisher's device in red and a single black ruled border, fore- and bottom edges uncut, title page in red and black which mirrors the front wrap, two initial capitals and sectional title in red, all text in italics, the five illustrations by Alastair bound throughout in shades of black and red, tissue-guarded, tipped onto silver-covered heavy paper; while the text is in English the colophon is in French, this one of 300 copies printed on Holland Van Gelder paper (there were also seven HC copies and one unique copy with an extra suite of prints); quarto size (10.25" by 7 1/8"), pagination: [i-iv, half-title and title pages], I-XIX (Introduction by Symons), [XX, blank], 1-50, [51-52, blanks], [53, colophon].
___CONDITION: Near fine, the wraps free of soil although with some toning, the corners gently bent, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; professional restoration to the wrapper spine (invisible), a few very light spots on the half-title page, some small wear to the fore-edge, one of the five illustrations missing the tissue guard, lacking the original glassine jacket. Still a lovely copy of one of Poe's best stories by an important Paris printer of the interwar period.
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