Limited Editions Club: Orations and Essays by Cicero (1972)

Orations and Essays by Cicero (1972)
LEC #452/40th Series V. 6 in 1972
Artwork: Illustrations by Salvatore Fiume
Introduction by Reginald H. Barrow, translated by Palmer Bovie, Michael Grant, Richmond Y. Hathorn, George B. Gardner
LEC #660 of 1500. LEC exclusive.

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Front Binding – Happy 2021 fellow LEC enthusiasts! Our very first post for the new year is a collection of orations and essays by Roman statesman and scholar Marcus Tullius Cicero, often shortened to just Cicero. This is his sole LEC edition, which includes seven orations (four against Catiline, one in defense of the Poet Archias, one for Aaelius, and one on the second Philippic against Antony) and three essays (“The Dream of Scipio”, “Cato the Elder on Old Age”, and “On Moral Duties, Book I”). He lived in a tumultuous period of Roman history, as the Republic crumbled following the death of Julius Caesar. His perspective and viewpoints angered Marc Antony, especially the scathing ones about Antony. As Antony began to consolidate power, Cicero was named an enemy of the state, captured attempting to flee the country, and beheaded. Per Wikipedia, “His works rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history, especially the last days of the Roman Republic.”

Salvatore Fiume served as illustrator for this edition, his third collaboration with its designer, Giovanni Mardersteig following 1959’s Quo Vadis? and 1963’s The Lives of the Twelve Caesars. This would be his last contribution to the LEC. For Orations, he painted portraits of major players featured within Cicero’s words, which were done in Rome. Ultimately, Fiume’s style is not one of my favorites. I feel he does a fine enough job capturing the essence of the classical stylings of Roman artwork, but it just seems a little flat for me.

Design Notes – Giovanni (Hans) Mardersteig handled the design duties of this book, one of the last he would perform for the LEC before his death in 1977. His private press, the Officina Bodoni, handled MANY titles for the Club over the years, including The Betrothed (I Promissi Sposi) and The Life of Benvenuto Cellini, among others we have yet to cover on the blog. Mardersteig often signed his editions, but this was not one of them (perhaps due to his age). For this book, Officina Bodoni handled planning duties, while Stamperia Valdonega printed it under his supervision. Here’s what the announcement adds:

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Title Page – Reginald H. Barrow provides the introduction. Unstated here are the various translators, who appear on the Table of Contents page and “Notes on the Selections”. The translators include Palmer Bovie (who handles the majority of the selections), Michael Grant, Richmond Y. Hathorn, and George B. Gardner.

Colophon – This is #660 of 1500, and was signed by Fiume.

Examples of Fiume’s illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – This was part of a lot I received from a fellow Devotee who has been exceptionally generous with donating a few duplicates from their collection to me, which I remain eternally thankful for. I would say on a book design front this is a highlight of the Cardevon Press days in terms of binding, printing and quality of materials — Fiume doesn’t do much for me, as noted above — and I’m happy to have it on my shelves.

Limited Editions Club: Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence (1975)

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence (1975)
LEC #486/43rd Series V. 4 in 1975-1976
Artwork: Illustrations by Sheila Robinson
Introduced by Robert Gorham Davis
LEC #730 of 2000. LEC exclusive.

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Happy holidays, dear readers! I suppose I should have flipped the script a little and slid Hard Times into the December slot to keep my blog somewhat thematic — Dickens has seen a fair share of December posts, after all — but in a curious twist the actual book for this month does feature Christmas in it to some extent, so it’s not entirely off-base, haha. That book, of course, is D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, an edition issued by Cardevon Press in 1975. We haven’t deep dived too much into the post-Macy periods of the Club much on the blog, but this is one of the stronger editions issued from Cardevon I’ve come across, in my view.

D.H. Lawrence rose to prominence in the early 1900s as an English novelist and poet, causing a fair amount of scandal in his time for his risque Lady Chatterley’s Lover, one of the earliest mainstream literary books to explicitly detail its main character’s sexual encounters. The book was banned in multiple countries as pornography, which dogged him the rest of his life. Lawrence challenged the critique, however, and didn’t let the controversy derail his exploration in the arts and letters, even if he was harassed by police, the press, and the prudes of his age. Sons and Lovers, an earlier novel that ended up being his first major success as an author, is the sole publication of his issued by the LEC, and is given a classical treatment.

Another debut to the oeuvre is artist Sheila Robinson, who also made her sole contribution to the Club with this edition. Her artistic style is a good fit for Lawrence’s words, which she performed at her personal studio, Saffron Walden, in Essex, England. She submitted both color and black/white illustrations, and it’s a bit of a shame she wasn’t recruited for additional commissions, as I do like I what I see here. This is considered one of her major works in literature illustration, alongside her contributions to The Oxford Illustrated Old Testament alongside many other book artists of the time, such as other LEC notables Edward Ardizzone and Edward Bawden. After her death in 1988, her employer The Royal College of Art dedicated the Sheila Robinson Drawing Prize in her honor.

Design Notes – Bert Clarke, formerly of Clarke and Way, handled design duties of this book under the auspices of A. Colish Inc., a prominent printer for the Cardevon period (and, it must be said, the entire history of the Club). Printing was indeed handled by the same press, but the colophon doesn’t go any deeper into design comments.

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Title Page – The title is printed in red, which my photograph doesn’t convey very well, so my apologies. Robert Gorham Davis provides an introduction.

Colophon – This is #730 of 2000, and Robinson signed the colophon.
Examples of Robinson’s illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – This was another kind donation from my blog’s fan, the last of the second set of books generously gifted to me. As I’ve noted before, I am simply floored by these wonderful donations that allow me to continue working on these posts, so a heartfelt thank you once more, my kind benefactor!

Heritage Press (Connecticut) – The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1965)

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1965, Connecticut)
Sandglass Number XIII – R: 45
Artwork: Illustrated by Fletcher Martin
Includes a brief preface by Upton Sinclair
Reprint of LEC #373, 33rd Series, V. 11 in 1965.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – Today brings one of the more influential literary works of the 20th century: The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. Sinclair’s scathing novel decried the poor conditions of the working class employed in Chicago’s meat-packing factories. Curiously, however, the disgusting revelations of how atrocious the meat production process actually was — the poisoned and diseased animals, as well as the unfortunate men that made the fatal mistake of becoming a part of the product they were paid to make — was not Sinclair’s actual intention of the novel. As the Sandglass notes, Sinclair was actually trying to make a case for socialism and a critique against the terrible wages of the workers. Sinclair wryly notes that he “‘aimed at the public’s heart and hit it in the stomach'” — but the overhauling of the meat industry was a positive in the end, and Sinclair continued his pleas in his other novels, essays and writings. Sinclair only had one LEC issued, but he does have the notable distinction of being one of the only authors to sign a LEC, joining the ranks of James Joyce, Robert Frost, Edgar Lee Masters, Van Wyck Brooks, and Wendell Willkie during the Macy’s tenure. Cardevon Press and Sidney Shiff had their fair share of author-signed volumes, including Ray Bradbury (twice!), Thornton Wilder, Isaac Bashevis Singer (twice!), Malcolm Cowley, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, John Hersey (who also signed The Kingdom of this World), Robert Penn Warren (who also signed Hersey’s Hiroshima), Czeslaw Milosz, Arthur Miller, Gunter Grass, Octavio Paz, Friedrich Durrenmatt, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Mitchell, Margaret Walker, Heinrich Harrer (twice!), Maya Angelou (twice!; she also signed Sunrise is Coming After While), Leopold Sedar Senghor, and John Ashbery. Shiff in particular was aggressive in publishing more modern works and recruiting their authors to sign his editions; most of this list is from his time as head of the LEC.

Whew! With that tangent over, let’s talk about this book’s illustrator, Fletcher Martin. Martin hasn’t been a stranger to the blog, with Tales from the Gold Rush appearing a few years ago. His career with Macy is detailed in that post. Martin is a good fit for The Jungle, if I may say so. His style seems to enhance the plights of the poor and downtrodden, of which Sinclair’s characters must certainly are. Here he uses both line drawings (33 in all) and several colored pen drawings.

Design-wise, John B. Goetz served as the designer of this book. I presume the LEC has the same designer. The main font is Monotype Scotch, with headings and page numbers set in Masterman. Printing was tackled by the Holyoke Lithographing Company on a paper supplied by the Warren Mill of Westbrook, Maine. The binding is quickly glossed over, with the Sandglass quipping only about its “assured longevity” and “effective simplicity”. The original Heritage reprint had a nice leather binding in contrast to this Connecticut reissue.

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Spine – Mine is rather faded.

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Title Page – Sinclair himself steps in to introduce his novel; this is uncommon. The Sandglass argues who better to discuss The Jungle than its creator?

Examples of the illustrations by Martin (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I got this from my big haul from the Oakhurst Library. I’d like to have the LEC, naturally, but I’d be happy to upgrade this one to at least the Macy-issued Heritage over this. But for now, I’m keeping it until I replace it!

Sandglass forthcoming!

Limited Editions Club: A Voyage to the South Seas by William Bligh (1975)

A Voyage to the South Seas by William Bligh (1975)
LEC #487/43rd Series V. 5 in 1975
Artwork – Watercolors and drawings by Geoffrey C. Ingleton
Introduced by Alan Villiers
LEC #403 of 1500

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – Last year I posted about the lovely LEC Captain Cook. In 1975, Cardevon Press reunited the creative team from that book, Douglas Dunstan of the Griffin Press of Australia and illustrator Geoffrey C. Ingleton, for a second (and final) seafaring, this time the tribulations of Lt. William Bligh of the British Navy aboard the H.M.S. Bounty. You may recognize Bligh from the more famous novel Mutiny on the Bounty (which was also a LEC, issued back in 1947 featuring Fletcher Martin’s artwork), which retold the events of this journal in a more dramatic fashion. While this LEC lacks the astounding production values on the binding in contrast to the Cook (honestly, it would be difficult to top the tapa cloth/kangaroo leather spine combo!), this is a very serviceable edition from the Cardevon period. It’s the tallest LEC I currently own, with large text and striking visuals, and the interior is designed just as exquisitely as Cook’s journals.

Ingelton would end his LEC career with this book, delivering two nautical treasures before stepping away. While we’re briefly touching on the art, this book has a rather infamous (among us Devotees at Librarything, anyway) drawing of a sailor with dropped trousers, having his penis inspected by the ship surgeon for venereal diseases. I didn’t photograph that one, but it is a rather revealing (in many ways!) look into the sailor life, and perhaps a loosening of the moral standards from the earlier days of the Club. There is ample nudity in many older LEC’s and Heritage titles, but this particular scene is of a different mold than the fantastical or humorous takes those books took, in my view. Alongside the Cardevon Flowers of Evil, I think the issuings of this period are a little less concerned with offending clientele.

Design Notes – Dunstan handled design duties, and he is good. The layout of the text and artwork is spectacular. The font is Baskerville in various sizes. Tan paper and terra cotta ink for the endpaper drawings make those particular pages pop, and the binding is a homespun linen decorated with two Ingleton originals: one for the front and one for the back. The Griffin Press handled the printing, binding and illustration duties. More can be gleamed from the letter below.

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Back Binding

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Spine – Gold leaf was put onto the spine, but alas, the spine is a bit faded. Only real blemish to this book.

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Title Page – Alan Villiers provides an intro. And this is the full title of Bligh’s narrative! It’s a wonder books were printed cheaply in ye olde days.

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Colophon Page – Ingleton and Dunstan both signed this colophon page, and this is yet another #403 in my hat.

Examples of the Illustrations by Ingelton (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I bought this at Old Capitol Books in Monterey last week, capitalizing (I’m being awfully punny today) on a sale to net the book half off its $75 price tag. I’m quite happy to have it, and I’ve finally completed a set of books for an illustrator I adore! Eichenberg, you’re next! :p

Monthly Letter (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Limited Editions Club – The Torrents of Spring by Ivan Turgenev (1976)

The Torrents of Spring by Ivan Turgenev (1976)
LEC #495/44th Series V. 1 in 1976
Artwork – Illustrations by Lajos Szalay
Introduced by Alec Waugh, Translated by Constance Garnett
LEC #397 of 2000

Click images to see larger views.

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Front Binding – Before beginning, I’m experimenting a little with format options on this post. I’m hoping it’ll make the posts look a little more snazzy.

Welcome back, dear friends! I’m out of school for a month or so, so I’ll be working to get some new content onto the blog, including this, my latest LEC, Ivan Turgenev’s The Torrents of Spring. This is the second Cardevon Press LEC I’ve shared, with Three Men in a Boat preceding it. Turgenev is one of the Russian masters, perhaps a little buried in the shadow of his fellows Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin and Chekhov, but a master he is! The Limited Editions Club visited his work twice in their lifeline, first giving his greatest work Fathers and Sons an Eichenberg treatment in 1951, and then this particular release in 1976.

Lajos Szalay has appeared here before, illustrating Chekhov’s Two Plays, issued in 1966. I wasn’t too keen on his work in that edition, but this! There are some exquisite full color illustrations in this book that wowed me. I suppose his linework isn’t too my taste, but I no longer consider him to be among the least impressive artists I’ve come across. Beyond those two works, he also stepped in to render a second Chekhov LEC, a collection of his short works of fiction issued in 1973.

Production details are in the announcement letter below in the Monthly Letter gallery.

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Title Page – Alec Waugh is the introduction provider; I swear I’ve stumbled upon that name elsewhere in my collection. Constance Garnett, the usual source of Russian translation for the Club, has once more been selected.

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Colophon – AKA Signature Page. This copy is #397 out of 2000, and Szalay offered his signature to posterity.

Artwork (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):

Personal Notes – This addition came from Bookbuyers in Monterey. I paid $25.00 for it in store credit, so woot! It is LEC #20 for me. :)

Monthly Letter (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):