Limited Editions Club: The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus by Johann Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (1981)

The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus by Johann Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen (1981)
LEC #514/45th Series V. 11 in 1981
Artwork: Wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Translated and Introduced by John P. Spielman
LEC #1116 of 2000. LEC Exclusive.

Click images to see larger views.

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Front Binding – It’s been a little while since we’ve covered a Shiff edition (The Secret Sharer way back in early 2020), so I think it’s high time to return to his tenure with one of my personal highlights: 1981’s The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus by Johann Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen. Grimmelshausen penned the tale in his native Germany in 1669 to general acclaim, serving as Germany’s answer to Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe. Witty, imaginative, and critical, Grimmelshausen’s work took nearly 300 years to receive a full English translation, which arrived in 1912. Two later stabs took place in the 1960s, but none ever delivered the full text until this edition emerged in 1981 with John Spielman’s handiwork rendering the sardonic text into English.

Grimmelshausen’s primary career was an estate agent and tavern keeper, ending up as mayor of the small town of Renchen thanks to his father-in-law’s influence. However, his passion was in writing, and spent many of his free hours primarily at his desk crafting stories. Beyond Simplicissimus, his best known work was The Vagabond Courasche, made contemporary by Bertolt Brecht’s drama Mother Courage. At the age of 54, in the middle of his return to serving in the military as he did in his youth, he passed away of unstated causes. This would be his only LEC, but it’s a stunning one!

The illustrator, meanwhile, needs little introduction at this point: it’s Fritz Eichenberg, legendary engraver and artist who had the longest run in the role in the LEC canon. Beginning his run in 1939 with Richard the Third for the LEC Shakespeare (however, he truly began working with George Macy in 1938 with the Heritage Crime and Punishment), this would be his third to last commission before his death in 1990. He was 82 when Shiff approached him for this task, and he delivered some of his most detailed and beautiful handiwork in Simplicissimus. A complete bibliography can be found here.

Design Notes – I got the letter with the announcement with this copy so I’ll let that speak for me:

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Antonie Eichenberg is Fritz’s wife, by the by, and it’s absolutely delightful both collaborated on this book. Personally, the design is among my favorites in the Shiff period, with the classy embossed cover and 18 amazing full page wood engravings from Eichenberg. It’s also huge!

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Closeup of Emboss

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Title Page – John P. Spielman handled translation duties for this one, and provides an uncredited introduction as well. Shiff considers it essential to best understand the text!

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Colophon – This is #1116 of 2000, and was signed by Eichenberg.

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

Personal Notes – This is another I bought from Devotee NYCFAddict a few years ago. This one is definitely among the ones I was really ecstatic to pick up, and seeing its glories made my hopes seem small in comparison, haha. Definitely among my favorites of the Shiff period.

Video Series #2 – Man and Superman and The House of the Dead

Welcome to the second video for the George Macy Imagery Video Series, a look back on my very first Limited Editions Club book I ever owned, Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw! Since this is for the 10 year anniversary of the blog, I also share my LEC edition of The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and discuss my purchases from Bookhaven/Old Capitol Books in Monterey!

For the original post on these books:
Man & Superman: https://georgemacyimagery.wordpress.c…
The House of the Dead: https://georgemacyimagery.wordpress.c…

Thank you for watching!

Heritage Press – The Story of Reynard the Fox by J.W. von Goethe (1954)

The Story of Reynard the Fox by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1954))
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Wood Engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Introduced by Edward Lazare, translated by Thomas James Arnold
Reprint of LEC #242, 23rd Series, V. 10

Click images for larger views.

Front Binding – Hello dear readers! Today’s post features an illustrator I hold most dear; the masterful Fritz Eichenberg, who has made quite an impression on this blog with his exquisite woodcuts and other art scattered throughout the Limited Editions Club, the Heritage Press and a few non-Macy publications. His Macy bibliography is covered in The Brothers Karamazov. But here we get to see a slightly different side to Eichenberg as the majority of his engravings feature animals over humans (although humankind is represented here in the book), giving it much more of a fantastical edge. This is an epic poem from the legendary Germanic author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, although it is not the first appearance of the character Reynard the Fox — according to the introduction the fox has been around at least since the medieval period, with some variants of the tale appearing in Ghent (1148), German (1180), France (1175-1250), and Flemish (early 13th century). English has its earliest version appearing in the thirteenth century as well, alongside an Italian version. In short, Reynard has been around a long time, although it is a particularly excellent spin on this iconic tale that George Macy chose to publish.

Goethe makes his debut on our blog at last, as noted one of the German masters of literature and quite a well-rounded contributor to Germanic academia: among his many talents (including literature) were expertise in art, philosophy, science, diplomacy, architecture and botany. However, we will focus on his skill with the written word, of which George Macy printed two examples of (and his wife Helen a third). The play Faust was the first, issued as a LEC in 1932 starring Rene Clarke’s talents. A Heritage exclusive of the same work was issued later on with Eugene Delacroix’s artwork, possibly in 1959 (I don’t have a copy in front of me to confirm my quick research on ABEBooks; I will update this once I do). I believe it uses the same text as the LEC. Next came this epic poem in 1954 for both clubs, followed by what may be his greatest novel Wilheim Meister’s Apprenticeship in 1959, featuring William Sharp as artist. Not printed by Macy or his other clubs would be the contender for Goethe’s greatest novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, which helped propagate the worldwide literary movement of Romanticism.

Design Notes – The original LEC was designed by Eugene M. Ettenberg, who likely carried his designer title over to the Heritage edition as well. The font is Janson. I don’t have a Sandglass unfortunately so I can’t get too much more into the details than those observations in the Quarto.

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Title Page – I really like this decoration Eichenberg crafted up for this page. Edward Lazare stepped in to provide a new introduction to this work, which was translated by Thomas James Arnold.

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

 

Personal Notes – This was another title Liz sent me last year. I plan to upgrade to a LEC down the road, but will hold on to this title until that day comes.

Trivia: The 10 Most Frequent Artists in the LEC

Hey, remember the trivia category? Well, I’m bringing it back. This time, let’s examine who George Macy and the subsequent owners of the Limited Editions Club commissioned the most over the Club’s long tenure!

10) Sylvain Sauvage (7)
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Sauvage illustrated several French classics for the LEC, including Cyrano de Bergerac, The History of Zadig (pictured), and two works of Anatole France, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard and At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque. He also handled As You Like It in the LEC Shakespeare.

9) Rene ben Sussan (8)
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ben Sussan had two commissions of Honore de Balzac, rendering the worlds of Old Goriot   and Eugenie Grandet as part of his eight titles for the LEC. He also had a hand in English drama, providing art for Jonson’s Volpone, the Fox and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Pictured is The Chronicle of the Cid.

8) John Austen (8)
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Several British works were illustrated by Austen: Vanity Fair (pictured), The Comedy of Errors, The Faerie Queene, The Pickwick Club, and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle. He also branched out a little with Aristophanes’ The Birds.

7) Agnes Miller Parker (8)
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The sole woman on our list, Parker’s exquisite woodcuts brought life to all of Thomas Hardy’s novels printed by the Club, as well as The Faerie Queene (pictured), Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard, Richard the Second, and The Poems of Shakespeare.

6) T.M. Cleland (8)
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A talented designer as well as artist, Cleland’s artistic gifts were displayed a little less frequently, but often enough to earn a place on our list. Some of his works include The Decameron, The History of Tom Jones, The Way of the World, She Stoops to Conquer and The Life and Times of Tristan Shandy, Gentleman. Pictured is Monsieur Beauclaire.

5) Valenti Angelo (12)
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The simplistic yet stylistic grace of Angelo graced a dozen books of the LEC, and several of them are masterworks of literature: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The House of the Seven Gables, The Books of a Thousand Nights and a Night, Songs of the Portuguese,  and several religious texts, like The Koran, The Book of Proverbs and The Book of Psalms. Pictured is The Song of Roland.

4) Lynd Ward (13)
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Ward’s thirteen contributions mark him as one of the most prominent illustrators for Macy, and he didn’t even work on the LEC Shakespeare like the majority of the others on this list! Ward’s commissions ranged from non-fiction works such as Rights of Man and On Conciliation with America to fantastical works such as Beowulf and Idylls of the King to contemporary works like The Innocent Voyage (pictured) and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

3) Fritz Eichenberg (15)
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The gifted Eichenberg worked the longest stretch of any of our artists; his first commission was 1939’s Richard the Third for the LEC Shakespeare to 1986’s The Diary of a Country Priest. One of the few to work under late Club owner Sid Shiff, Eichenberg’s output left the LEC a lasting legacy that is difficult to ignore. Best known for his work on the Russian legends of literature, including Eugene Onegin, Crime and Punishment (pictured), Fathers and Sons, and Childhood, Boyhood, Youth.

2) Edward A. Wilson (17)

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Wilson was productive, to say the least; he even had his own Heritage volume detailing his artwork! Among the many classics he brought visual splendor to are Westward Ho!, Treasure Island, The Tempest (pictured), Robinson Crusoe, Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

1) Fritz Kredel (20)
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And finally we come to Fritz Kredel, the king of illustrating for the LEC with a massive twenty volumes! Many collections of fairy tales were conjured by Kredel, including both Andersen (pictured) and the Brothers Grimm. Two Shakespeares, two Trollopes, two Twains, Thackeray, Darwin, Austen, Plato and Heine were among the literary giants Kredel decorated for Macy, and his talent was certainly up to such a diverse palette of books.

Next time, we’ll explore the most frequent Heritage Press artists in terms of their exclusives. We’ll see how many of these artisans cross over!

Hertiage Press – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1943)

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1943)
Sandglass Number 7 GRS
Artwork: Drawings by Fritz Eichenberg and Paintings by Vassily Verestchagin
Introduced, Translated and with Notes by Louise and Alymer Maude
Heritage Press Exclusive; the LEC printed their own edition of War and Peace in 1938. This edition borrows the revised translation done by the Maudes.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Bindings – Hello again, everyone! It’s nice to be back. And this is my first post in my new home. Funny how this doesn’t feel any different, and yet…this is the first time I’ve not lived in my home town. So many other parts of my life are so radically different from before, but it’s comforting to know that writing here is a little nostalgic in its own strange way…Anyway, you’re not here necessarily to read about my life changes. Let’s get to brass tacks and discuss a monstrous two volume set that stars two illustrators: the Heritage War and Peace.

War and Peace is arguably the great Leo Tolstoy’s magnum opus; the George Macy Company agreed with this sentiment, publishing two versions of the classic, one for each publishing house (which was also done with Anna Karenina, but gave that particular book two LEC editions instead). The LEC received a six volume set in 1938, decorated by the esteemed Barnett Freedman (who also did the art for Anna Karenina). The Heritage Press, meanwhile, received this two volume set later in 1943, starring another prominent illustrator of Russian texts, Fritz Eichenberg. Eichenberg wasn’t alone on this edition, however; Macy licensed the paintings of Russian painter Vassily Verestchagin, who was at the time unpublished in the United States, to decorate the battle-filled second half of the book. Eichenberg is primarily reserved for the first volume. Before you get super excited, though, Eichenberg left his woodcutting tools out of the equation for this commission, and instead went with a simpler inked line approach for his artistry. It’s certainly adequate, but may not be as well-received as his exquisite woodcuts and lithographs that grace other Macy volumes. Tolstoy and Eichenberg would meet twice more (with his patented woodblocks) in the future for the LEC, with Resurrection and Childhood, Boyhood, Youth seeing his flourish in 1963 and 1974, respectively.

Tolstoy’s publishing history with Macy is detailed in Anna Karenina, and Eichenberg’s is covered in The Brothers Karamazov.

Design details are most abridged in this set; one page of the Sandglass is spent on the cast of the book, forcing Macy to gloss over most of the publication details. Perhaps World War II (which was in full swing at this point) caused the book to be printed in-house entirely? The boards are covered in a “silky maroon linen”, with gold leaf (mine appears silver) for Eichenberg’s design and for the spine’s text. Eichenberg contributed forty drawings, and Verestchagin’s paintings were taken from the Napoleonic campaigns collection at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. And…that’s all I can give you. However, Django6924 had plenty to say about the book’s release date, as well as an interesting story about Freedman (I had originally mentioned that Freedman died in 1958, and had supposed that this release followed his death):

Jerry, your Sandglass is the same as mine and dates from the initial HP release in 1943. When War and Peace was re-issued in 1951, it was in a single volume and the Sandglass didn’t have any details on the production either.

In your article you mention that since Freedman died in 1958, that this edition dates from then. It is one of those little details that make the collecting of HP editions a fascinating game of detective work! In fact, this statement proves how strange things were for Macy during the war, and how much confusion existed in those days before satellite communications. In fact, Macy, and many others, I’m sure, believed that Freedman had died serving as a War Artist–having been sent to France in April 1940 to record the work of the BEF–either during the near-disaster of Dunkirk, or being lost when the Bismarck sank HMS Hood, with with virtually the entire ship’s company.

Freedman was nearly lost at Dunkirk when he left the complement of War Artists to retrieve the one painting he had completed before the Germans forced the evacuation. As told in the wonderful book The Sketchbook War: Saving the Nation’s Artists in World War II (which features the exploits of several LEC illustrators), Freedman had “a last defiant meal on French soil before leaving the burning city–three bottles of champagne and a tin of bully beef” before getting on an ammunition boat which brought him to England. After this, he was posted, not on HMS Hood as Macy thought, but on HMS Repulse, which was one of the ships that sank the Bismarck. This is undoubtedly the origin on the comment “late, great painter” in the 1943 War and Peace Sandglass and the comment in the 1951 War and Peace Sandglass that Freedman was a survivor of the sinking of the Hood (in fact there were only two survivors) and a survivor of Dunkirk.

Isn’t that fascinating? Once again, World War II wrecks havoc on Macy’s plans, much like it did with Oedipus the King, This is the Hour, and Le Fleurs de Mal, among others. At least this one had a happy ending, and Freedman lived through his trials as a war painter (to ultimately come back and do Anna Karenina!). Funny how this post has been a bit of a circle, and how War and Peace seems to be an actual theme to the events of Macy’s artists, too!

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Title Page – The text is taken from the LEC edition of War and Peace, which featured a modified translation by noted Tolstoy scholars Louise and Aylmer Maude. The latter also provides an introduction and many notes to the text. Macy made plenty of his own notes of how this is an exclusive to his printing houses, so he must have had some pride in acquiring it.

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

Personal Notes – This is a set I’ve wanted for some time, and it came in the bunch of Heritage titles I acquired from the Oakhurst Library. Still need to read it, though.

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