Heritage Press – The Iliad of Homer (1943)

October 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Iliad of Homer (1943)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Classical Design Sketches by John Flaxman
Translated and introduced by Alexander Pope, supervised by Carl Van Doren
Heritage Press Exclusive – The LEC did their own Iliad in 1931, designed by Jan van Krimpen.

Click images to see a larger view.

Front Binding – The neat Greek design you see on the left does go all the way around the front in a box. It’s also a lovely shade of red. The Odyssey would follow the same design philosophies but go for a blue cloth instead. Info on the designer of the book will be forthcoming, as long as the Connecticut Sandglass I’ve acquired recently contains it.

This book pulls heavily from the past (not only in the material of Homer, of course), with poet Alexander Pope’s translation and 19th century sculptor John Flaxman’s outlines embellishing the text. The combination looks great, although I admit to having not read the book in question.

Pope, despite being a fairly prominent figure in the English poetry canon, never had his own work reproduced by the George Macy Company, although he would reappear as part of a set of translators for Ovid’s Metamorphosis in 1961. Why his essays on Man and Criticism, not to mention The Rape of the Lock, were untouched by the LEC or Heritage Press is a mystery to me.

Flaxman was best known for his bas-reliefs, which to this day can be found all over England.  He was a busy man working with many mediums: sculpture, painting, drafts, drawings and engravings were all part of his prolific output. He not only rendered the worlds of Homer, but those of Dante and Aeschylus as well. As far as I know, Flaxman’s work was only utilized by the Company for the two works of Homer for the Heritage Press.


Title Page – Alexander Pope provides an introduction to his translation (or, better said, the Press plucked it as well as his translation to be used here). Carl Van Doren seemed to have supervisory control on the book, as he provides a note on the translation following Pope’s intro. Thanks to m7ia for the info and reminder to check! As for Flaxman’s artwork, it certainly fits the bill in my opinion. It has a simplistic grace to it, which he was renowned for in his heyday.

Page 2

Page 18

Personal Notes – I’d like to compare van Krimpen’s LEC’s to these Heritage editions. These are nice, but I imagine that van Krimpen’s are impressive, too. I originally documented a library copy, but hey, now I have one thanks to my old friend from my first bookselling gig who happened to collect this on his travels somewhere.

Connecticut Sandglass to come.

Updated 7/29/2012 JF


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§ 2 Responses to Heritage Press – The Iliad of Homer (1943)

  • Nicole says:

    I just bought a copy of these beautiful books from 1942. The Heritage Club Sandglass number appears to be VI-VII: 20 With a pithy ‘It’s a Homer!’ title.

    Lucky for me I found these in the local book store. They are in great condition, a bit bleached from the sun on the spine, otherwise in good shape.

    My question is: did they originally come in a case? And if so, do you know where I might track one down?

    A million thanks,

    • Wildcat-Lvl says:

      Aye, the majority of Heritage Press books did come with a slipcase, including the Odyssey and Iliad. At least you got a Sandglass, as those tend to be more wily than the cases. What I do in terms of cases is try to purchase books with them, but sometimes there’s copies that are in such good condition for a killer price without the case that I forgo that stipulation. Sometimes a case for another book will work for the ones you wish to keep (so if you found another Iliad, say, you could keep the better copy and put it into the case, and sell off the lesser one – occasionally a completely different book will have the perfect case, too, which I’ve done for a couple of mine). Beyond that, you could ask your local shop about cases, or look on ebay, Amazon, ABEbooks or Alibris and see what they may offer in terms of cases/alternate copies.

      Best of luck in you search, and enjoy the books – they are quite lovely!

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