Extremely scarce, virtually entirely unprinted "novel without words" employing paper-cuts (probably using linoleum), which approximate the look of woodcuts, in its depiction of modern man versus the impersonal, de-humanizing and ruthless modern state. 8vo. Square 21 cm. Each volume has a title page, 18 leaves of content, and a page containing the issue date. In the first volume, the first five leaves following the title contain text, followed by 12 leaves of illustrations. In the two subsequent volumes, there are no text leaves but 17 leaves with illustrations in each. Only the titles on the front boards and the spine look as if they were possibly printed, but probably were not. Everything else, including all the lettering on the title pages, the date pages and the little bit of text, is of these custom cut-outs, each of which measures 7 cm square. While the medium of linoleum cuts (or whatever material was used) may not lend itself to sharp detail, the artist here actually achieves astonishingly minute detail. The compensating virtue of the material is that it so effectively conveys a stark rawness is in keeping with the grim horrors of the story. The medium also works well when the artist is playing with patterns to form what might be referred to a diaper, or a repeat, of the imagery. An example is the artist filling the frame with interchangeable heads, or identical machinery lined up, one after the other, both of these images that bring to mind an Escher geometric configuration. As a novel without words, the narrative has some ambiguity, and that was surely intended, to allow for alternative interpretations, but unquestionably the artist was casting a jaundiced eye at the evils of modern society. The little bit of text in the birth volume recounts that a mother in labor by a bridge is brought to a hospital but is cast off because she is Czech and gives a harrowing birth by the bridge. In the following volume, a boy grows up, experiences various indignities, finds romance, finds employment, it would seem, in a factory, and becomes some sort of union agitator. Or so that is our read of the images. What is made plain is that at no point is there not pain, suffering or cruelty, including in the episode suggesting sexual intercourse. In the third volume, the man is arrested, persecuted and shot. And it is here most suggestively the artist would seem to warning of the dangers of Fascist and Totalitarianism. And in doing this, surely the artist was early in addressing the darkening clouds that were descending on Europe. If this would seem to be informed by hindsight, we would point out that a few farsighted writers were sounding the same alarm about the same time, such as the Italian author, Corrado Alvaro. Arguably, the boy and young man depicted was meant to be Jewish -- it isn't clear whether he is wearing a yamaka or not -- which would add further poignancy to the story, as well as mark the author as particularly perspicaciously, but we can't assert this with complete confidence. Unfortunately, we do not know the identity of the author/artist other than the initials cut into the material, and even these initials are not 100 percent clear. Bookseller Inventory #
Title: Ein Mensch ward geboren. Ein Mensch im leben...
Publisher: 1931, 1932 and 1934
Publication Date: 1931
Book Condition: Near Fine
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