Heritage Press: Don Juan by Lord Byron (1943)

April 14, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: Don Juan by Lord Byron (1943)

Don Juan by Lord Byron (1943)
Sandglass Number XII: 17
Artwork: Lithographic Drawings by Hugo Steiner-Prag
Introduced by John T. Winterich, with endnotes by Paul Elmer More
Heritage Press Exclusive

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – The Heritage Press took to their own devices from time to time, printing books that the Limited Editions Club did not.  In some cases, these were alternative versions to books the LEC had published, like in the case of Salome.  However, they also printed their own books that the LEC never did, and Lord Byron’s Don Juan is a prime example.  The book has a lovely yellow binding with a nice pattern designed and drawn by Hugo Steiner-Prag, the book’s artist.  The Russell-Rutter Company performed the binding.  Steiner-Prag was also responsible for the lovely LEC Tartuffe I covered a while back, plus being the editor and illustrator of The Tales of Hoffman, as well as doing the LEC Shakespeare Measure for Measure.  The Sandglass gushes about his works for the Club extensively, as well as covering his life fairly well, too.  These illustrations are the last of Steiner-Prag’s work for either press, as he died shortly after completing the work for this volume.  The Sandglass neglects to indicate the designer of this book – usually, that means that George Macy himself was responsible, but I’ll see if any of my fellow LEC collectors have any definitive info.  The back board lacks the black block with the decorated “B”.

Title Page – A rather attractive title page greets the reader upon flipping open the book.  Steiner-Prag’s lithographs were reproduced by George C. Miller, who the Sandglass piles on this praise: “a New York printer of lithographs who is really the printer of lithographs in this country since he has no competitor.”  Wow – compliments from Mr. Macy were quite handsome, indeed!  The book was printed by The Stratford Press in New York.  The verses are in Baskerville font, while the running-heads and canto numerals are Linoscript, and the canto headings are Sylvan.  As par the course, specially-made paper for this edition came from the Crocker-Burbank Mills in Massachusetts.  While the book’s title page fails to mention him, John T. Winterich offers a brief Introduction, and Paul Elmer More worked on some notes for the text that follow the poem.  Byron’s work here is an epic poem about the popular literary figure Don Juan (Bernard Shaw fans may recognize the name if they’ve dove into Man & Superman, as Juan makes an appearance in Act III, and has often overshadowed the rest of the work).  Byron may have wrote it into stanzas, but he intended it to be treated like a novel, if the Sandglass is to be believed.  They also refer to this Juan as being unlike the Spanish legend, but I haven’t read it, so I can’t really agree or disagree with their claim.  It is a social satire, and was hugely successful in his time.  More about Byron and his “Byronic” writing style can be read in the Sandglass below.

Page 24 – Steiner-Prag’s work is something that has grown on me as of late, making me appreciate his eye to detail and exquisite shading techniques the more I look at them.

Page 56 – Another nice piece from the book.  Really moody.

Personal Notes – You know, I’m not really sure where I got this one.  I apparently paid $4.00 for it!  It was either the Oakhurst or Mariposa Libraries, I’m sure.  It didn’t come with a slipcase, but it was in rather good shape with a Sandglass.  I like it quite a bit, but I’ve yet to find another around to consider getting a slipcase for it.  *shrugs*


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