On Hold

Czech Concrete Poetry and Lettrism

Tvář: kulturní měsíčnik [The face: a cultural monthly]. Alternate subtitle: literatura, kritika, společnost [literature, criticism, society], nos. 1–10 (1964) and 1–10 (1965), as well as nos. 1–2 (1968) and nos. 1–6 (1969).

Prague: Svaz čs. spisovatelů, 1964–1965 and 1968–1969. Square octavos and octavos (ca. 19 × 20.5 to 24 × 17 cm). Original pictorial wrappers; ca. 48 pp. per issue. A few issues with minor wear to wrappers; overall very good.

Complete run in twenty-eight issues (in twenty-six fascicles) of this short-lived, but very influential journal of modern art and literature. It appeared for two years (1964–1965) and again in 1968 after a period of cessation, with only two and six issues published. The last issues of the final two years were both confiscated or stopped by the censors prior to distribution and are not known to exist (no. 3 and 7).

The editors included Bohumil Doležal, Jiří Gruša, Jiří Pištora, Marie Šolleová, and Jan Nedvěd. In the first year, the group was more heterogeneous, including many younger writers and critics who later founded their own journal, but beginning in 1965, with the arrival of Emanuel Mandler as the new editor, the journal’s orientation become more well-defined: its politically critical, ideologically liberated, and aesthetically insubordinate attitude set it on a collision course with both Communist Party organs and other reform-oriented movements of the 1960s. It was first forced to cease for economic and political reasons, and finally halted entirely by the process of “Normalization” following the 1968 Warsaw Pact Invasion.

The journal first introduced writers and thinkers whose names had been unable to appear in print for years, such as Martin Heidegger, Ortega y Gasset, Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, Henry Miller, Jakub Deml, Josef Florian, and Richard Weiner, while also publishing some of the first works by Bohumil Hrabal. It was also an important venue for Czech concrete poetry, printing works by Václav Havel, Jiří Kolář, Josef Hiršal, and Bohumila Grögerová, among others. Among the artists discussed and whose works are reproduced, are: Carlfriedrich Klaus, Libuše Kaplanová, Jaroslava Pešicová, Karel Chovanec, Václav Boudník, Jaroslav Vožniak, Bedřich Novotný, Cecilie Marková, Lutobor Hlavsa, Zdeněk Sýkora, Josef Istler, Kurt Schwitters, Naum Gabo, Antoni Tapies, Robert Piesen, Francis Bacon, and many others.

See the entry in the Dictionary of Czech Literature After 1945 (Slovník české literatury po roce 1945, at http://www.slovnikceskeliteratury.cz/, author Richard Svoboda).

As of March 2022, KVK, OCLC show five holdings in North America, of which only two sets appear to be complete.

Book ID: 51953