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Czech Proto-Surrealism - Photo-Illustrated Poetry - On Rainbow-Colored Paper

Safra neboližto orla poletem na pouť Orientem: verše symbolné ve stu a jedné básni se CXIV obrázky a mapkou [Safra, that is, symbolic verse from the eagle's flight or a journey through the orient].

Prague: self-published ("Unie"), 1908. Octavo (24 × 17) cm). Original wrappers perished; contemporary half-cloth over marbled paper-covered boards; 223 pp. Signed and inscribed by the author in the year of publication to a representative of the "Unie" publishing house; very good.

One of the very first attempts to combine typeset text with printed photography, and in all likelihood the first in the Czech lands: "The first Czech poetry collection to be illustrated with photographs... Besides some graphics, it also includes about eighty small-format photo-reproductions showing landscapes and art works (mainly classical sculptures), but also group photographs, and, in one case, a simple photo-montage. The illustrations are typically incorporated into the typography of the poem, and in some cases even appear in the middle of a line" (Toman, p. 288). The poems themselves were influenced by the author's journey to Greece and Turkey, where he visited numerous sites of classical antiquity. An expensive project, it was likely carried out to the author's exact specifications and possibly under his personal supervision. A number of the poems have a proto-Dadaist feel, and the use of images at times verges on the surreal. Comparisons with Karel Teige's "Abeceda" (1926) suggest themselves, although research suggests that Paroubek's efforts were largely ignored at the time.

The present copy is apparently part of a limited run printed on fourteen differently colored kinds of stock, which produces an even more striking effect in combination with the typography and photographic inserts. The regular print run featured both dark blue and orange paper wrappers; a smaller-format version was published at the same time, according to the elaborate colophon, which also names everyone involved in setting and printing the book. This copy is inscribed to a representative or owner of the "Unie" printing concern. See Toman, 8.2.1-6; pp. 288-292. Rare; as of August 2021, KVK and OCLC only show the copy at the Czech National Library.

Book ID: 51475

Price: $1,750.00