Place and Imprint: Playa Vista, California: Two Hands Press, 2018.
Edition: First Two Hands Press edition, a facsimile - or “recreation” as the press prefers to describe it - of the first edition of 1913, letter "J" of 30 lettered copies hors de commerce; there are also 150 numbered copies, for a total edition of 180 copies.
Condition: As new.
Book ID: 27935
Physical Description78.25 x 14.25 inches, folded accordion style once vertically and 21 times horizontally to create a 7.25 x 3.625 inch “book” that is enclosed in painted vellum wrappers, with a separate essay by Kitty Marryat, proprietor of the Two Hands press, on the history of La Prose du Transsibérien.
CommentsA seminal avant-garde artist book of the 20th century. Of the 11 copies of the original edition that have sold at auction in this century, the average price realized has been about $200,000. This is the first true facsimile, using similar methods and materials as the first edition of 1913. ¶ La Prose du Transsibérien was written, designed and printed by letterpress and illustrated by pochoir in an edition that was stated to be 150 copies (in three subsets, in the French manner). The actual number completed has long been in dispute, as has the number of surviving copies. A census by Kitty Marryat of the Two Hands Press located 40 copies; a French scholar claims to have recorded 73 copies, but will not produce his list for examination. The poem by Blaise Cendrars (1887-1961), Swiss-born modernist poet and novelist, is a free verse, free wheeling look at the poet’s life and the events of the Russian Revolution as contemplated during a journey on the Trans-Siberian railway, followed by a short poem about Paris. The letterpress text is printed in over 38 typefaces in four colors, printed in 22 panels on a narrow, long sheet. Cendrars’s collaborator, the artist Sonia Delaunay-Terk (1885-1979), interwove the text with colorful abstract pochoir, that when folded made a relatively small accordion book, but when fully opened was 78.25 x 14.25 inches. Cendrars and Delaunay-Terk called it the “first simultaneous book.” It created a sensation among those who saw it when it was first displayed, particularly among those who were involved in the avant-garde artistic movement.