Heritage Press – The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1959)

November 11, 2012 § 6 Comments

The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1959)
Sandglass Number: XII:24
Artwork: Lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated by Constance Garnett and Avrahm Yarmolinsky (Stavrogin’s Confession), introduced by Marc Slonim
Reprint of LEC #305, 38th Series, V. 2 in 1959

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Welcome to November, friends of the blog! School is beginning to wind down a little, so I am feeling I can squeeze out a post for our final Reader Request for 2012 with little repercussion. Today is yet another Dostoevsky novel, The Possessed. And yes, it’s once again illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg. Even the Sandglass pokes fun at this seemingly perpetual pairing. Both have their publishing careers thoroughly detailed in the last post to see their combined talents, The Brothers Karamazov.

So, with a ton of history already covered, I can focus on this particular issuing. Eichenberg did engravings for this book, yet the Sandglass fails to describe if they were wood or stone ones. The reprint quality lacks the sharpness of the woodcuts done for Crime and Punishment, but is more in line with the Karamazov stone lithographs. Of course, this means little if the printers failed to do the job properly, which could be the case. The reproduction and reprinting of Eichenberg’s art fell to The Meriden Gravure Company, one I personally am not familiar with. Django6924 offers some thoughts on the matter:

I checked the illustrations above against the ones in my LEC copy and did not see a great difference with the exception of the reproduction of the illustration of the Gadarene swine. Although the bulk of the illustration is a close match for the LEC, the swine in the foreground on the Heritage version are remarkably lighter–indeed, it’s much easier to see the detail of their bristles in the Heritage than in my LEC copy, where the foreground is rather inky. The ground to the right of the swine is also much lighter in the Heritage–in the LEC it is a solid black. The Meriden Gravure Company also did the reproductions of the engravings for the LEC copy, and they have done many other LEC and Heritage volumes.

So, perhaps it was a deliberate choice. I guess I prefer a more black-to-white consistency over a slew of grays.

As for other production information, Peter Oldenberg served as the designer for this work, and apparently he was at the time a mere fifteen miles away from Mr. Eichenberg’s residence. Primer was the font of choice, with bigger titles in Columbia Bold. Smaller titles were rendered in Normande, so font lovers will have three to fawn over in this one. Printing duties were handled by Case, Lockwood and Brainard of Hartford, Connecticut, Russell-Rutter once more bound the book, and its pages were supplied by Crocker-Burbank Company.

Slipcase

Title Page – Constance Garnett’s the unsurprising choice for translator, although a suppressed chapter she omitted has been restored to the LEC/Heritage edition, translated by Avrahm Yarmolinsky, who has contributed to the club before for Karamazov and Eugene Onegin. Marc Slonin offers up an introduction. Eichenberg’s art here is relatively well printed, but the two below seem faded or faint to me. Judge for yourselves!

Contents Page

Page 26 – Despite my quibbles about the printing, Eichenberg continues to shine artistically.

Personal Notes – I got this from Bookhaven in Monterey if my memory serves me well. Yes, that was the “secret shop” I’ve referred to in years past. Alas, they were concluding their business days when I last was in town with no money and no time to go see them, and I will miss them greatly. As I mentioned before, expect a eulogy at some point, as they were a vital source of my overall collection.

Sandglass:

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§ 6 Responses to Heritage Press – The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1959)

  • Robert says:

    Jerry, I checked the illustrations above against the ones in my LEC copy and did not see a great difference with the exception of the reproduction of the illustration of the Gadarene swine. Although the bulk of the illustration is a close match for the LEC, the swine in the foreground on the Heritage version are remarkably lighter–indeed, it’s much easier to see the detail of their bristles in the Heritage than in my LEC copy, where the foreground is rather inky. The ground to the right of the swine is also much lighter in the Heritage–in the LEC it is a solid black. The Meriden Gravure Company also did the reproductions of the engravings for the LEC copy, and they have done many other LEC and Heritage volumes.

  • don floyd says:

    I fortunately found a buyer for my copy of The Possessed, Heritage Club edition. Not that I think it is a badly executed book, but that I am paring down and selling all Heritage Club editions.

    The LEC Bibliography lists Eichenberg’s art as ingravings so I can’t say for sure if they were executed on the stone or as wood blocks, but Eichenberg was primarily noted as a wood cutter.

    the Meriden Gravure company is a high-quality graphic arts company which provides work for the printing of color and b&w art work from a variety of original sources. the LEC Bibliography lists them as printer, but this is a feature not generally performed by Meriden.

    My two-volume LEC was obtained from Charles Agvent several years ago when Agvent’s prices were more in line with what collector’s expected to pay. It was, and still is, in Mint condition.

    • Wildcat-Lvl says:

      Hi Don,

      I concur on Eichenberg being primarily known as a wood engraver, but Karamazov was done via stone lithographs, so the potential of that being the case is possible. Thanks for the additional info. :)

  • kathy zellermayer says:

    Thank you so much for sending.  I have this wonderful book but not the important info on how the book came to be.

    Kathy

  • muhammadika says:

    wonderful book and amazing edition!

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