Sunday, January 24, 2010

EVENT: Fri. Jan. 29th: Daniel Higgs, Zomes

Friday, January 29that 8PM

Daniel A.I.U. Higgs


Daniel Higgs

"Daniel Arcus Incus Ululat Higgs is a musician and artist from Baltimore, Maryland on whose behalf superlatives are destined to fail. It’s not that his artistic output – spanning three decades, numerous albums, books of poetry and collections of drawings – simply eludes classification, it defies it. Often we hear that a true work of art is meant to speak for itself, and with the work of Daniel Higgs the maxim rings truer than ever. His art is of the cosmos, we on Earth merely lucky that it happens to be confined to our atmosphere, in our lifetime.

Higgs is known primarily for his work as the sole lyricist and frontman of the band Lungfish, a four-piece dedicated to charting, in this listener’s estimation, nothing short of the evolution of all species, known and unknown. That the band has undertaken this pursuit in the guise of a humble rock outfit, in the absence of any public relations fanfare, metanarrative, or manifesto has been enough to endear them to tens of thousands. They are enshrined as one of America’s last true folk bands, and Higgs anointed as a patron saint to artistic purity.

In recent years, Higgs has released a number of solo outings that can only be described as the ultimate in isolation, worlds away from the hypnotic, communal rock of his band. On Atomic Yggdrasil Tarot, Higgs weaves meditative, casually ruptured drones using acoustic and electric guitar, upright pianos, banjo and jew’s harp, recorded entirely at home on cassette recorder. He pairs the music with a series of paintings that call to mind religious iconography passed through the disfiguring surrealism of Miro.

Higgs has wedded his music and his visual art into a singular being, meant to be encountered as a conjuring force similar to that of the tarot experience. The yggdrasil is the great tree of Norse myth that connects all worlds of cosmology. Passing into Christian folklore, the tree is said to connect heaven and earth. In his relentless pursuit of the indivisible, Higgs travels up and down this spine and hatches a new transubstantiation of sound and image into life-form. "-Thrill Jockey


"...full of beautiful Seesselberg-sized chunks of loop-like melodies that effervesce while Osborne brings them to life. There is a cinematic quality to the material here that recalls "library music," East German Indianerfilmen soundtracks, and even Blues Control at their most humid. " -Holy Mountain

Thursday, January 21, 2010

FEATURED: Victor Hammer's Stamperia del Santuccio: John Milton's Samson Agonistes

Samson Agonistes
John Milton
Published by Stamperia del Santucchio, Florence 1930-31
in an edition of 103 copies.
Victor Hammer, Printer

Limited to 103 copies of which this is the 93rd. 9 x 13 inches. Maroon boards. Magnani Paper, with press watermark. Printed in Florence at Stamperia del Santuccio by Victor Hammer, 1930-31, abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz, 1234567890,. Printer's device with the letters 'a m d g" at corners. Opus 1, number 93. Lines of poem numbered in red at intervals, 1-1758. Printed in Samson Uncial Type, of which this is the first specimen.
This is the first printed work of Victor Hammer's Stamperia del Santuccio. Rare.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

EVENTS: This Saturday at The Slought Foundation

Strictly Death: Selected Works from the Richard Harris Collection

Presented in partnership with Balloon Contemporary, Chicago

January 23 - March 8, 2010

Opening reception
Saturday, January 23, 2010; 6:30pm-8:30pm
Free (Reservation not required)

Slought Foundation is pleased to announce Strictly Death: Selected Works from the Richard Harris Collection, on display in the galleries from January 23 through March 8, 2010. The opening will take place on Saturday, January 23 from 6:30-8:30pm, with a special address at 6:30pm on Thomas De Quincey, aesthetics, and death prepared by philosopher Simon Critchley, author of The Book of Dead Philosophers (2009). Strictly Death is a provocative exhibition that explores the iconography of death across a range of artistic practices. The exhibition selection surveys work by contemporary artists including Jasper Johns, Robert Mapplethorpe, Kiki Smith, Irving Penn, Leonard Baskin, Vik Muniz, the Chapman Brothers, Andres Serrano, and Sally Mann, exhibited alongside historical works and memento mori by artists including Durer, Rembrandt, Goya, Odilon Redon, and James Ensor. The exhibition also includes material culture and historical artifacts including miniature bone carvings by Napoleonic prisoners, bronze sculls from the baroque period, and Day of the Dead illustrations by Mexican folk artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, as well as documentary research into the archivization of death following the genocides of the twentieth-century.

We should not forget that the term of "esthetics" was introduced into English for the first time by Thomas De Quincey to translate the German terms used by Kant and Schiller. This was in "Murder considered as one of the fine arts," the essay that established De Quincey's name among British humorists. It begins by stating that murder has two handles. It can be seized by the moral handle, which can be left to priests and judges, or by the esthetic handle, which is used by everyone else. That esthetic handle turns death into spectacle since it allows us to treat it purely "esthetically."

For instance, let's imagine that a victim has been killed: we should only consider whether it makes a good or a bad show. He writes: "A sad thing it was, no doubt, very sad; but we can't mend it. Therefore let us make the best of a bad matter; and, as it is impossible to hammer anything out of it for moral purposes, let us treat it aesthetically, and see if it will turn out to account in that way." Crimes can be appreciated and assessed as works of art; as such, these deaths are "signed" and stamped for posterity. Thus De Quincey tells us ironically, via Kant and Hegel that death is and is not death when it becomes art. The autonomy of the aesthetic domain entails that the work of art turns into its own reality. The point is less that it is ready to "kill" reality in order to assert its own laws than that it has become once and for all self-reflexive by actively bracketing out other concerns. Its significance is bounded by the deployment of its formal procedures which acknowledges neither a human nor divine tribunal. De Quincey forces us to conclude that without death and murder, there is no esthetics.

In The Space of Literature, Maurice Blanchot reminds us that we often close our eyes to death. "If men in general do not think about death," he writes, "if they avoid confronting it, it is doubtless in order to flee death and hide from it, but this escape is possible only because death itself is perpetual flight before death". Death, despite its inevitability, can only ever be realized as an absence of information, one that perpetually eludes understanding. What we take as death itself, is always and only a representation. Responding to Blanchot's provocation, the exhibition traces a preoccupation with and evasion of the topic of death, so as to explore the place of mortality in artistic practice. It begins with artworks from the 15th century, and continues through to the present moment, when the individual's relation to death is increasingly confronted by the political reality of mass death.

The tradition of representing death explored in this exhibition is exemplified over the last several centuries by Memento Mori. They can be understood as devices that invite the subject to contemplate their finitude. They invite the subject to separate from the collapse of the body at the moment of death, an experience which is often figured in cultural representation through the skeleton and the specter of the open grave. But it is precisely this process, that takes place as the body contemplates its unique and individual end, that opens up new ground for our relation to finality. Death, but not so strictly. Blanchot's stricture of incomprehension still stands, but today, as priests and judges loosen their grip, representation can perhaps, turn to the service of the self. Today our anticipation of death gives way not to the transcendental, but to a freer sense of the subject and its contemplation of its own finitude. 

In The Phenomenology of Spirit, the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel writes that "the life of the Spirit is not the life that shrinks from death and keeps itself untouched by devastation, but rather the life that endures and maintains itself in it." The apparently tragic tone of this passage should not conceal its radical optimism; Hegel trusts that he will be strong enough to "look the negative in the face," and thus not close his eyes out of sentimentality to life's unpalatable or horrible sides. In so doing, he finds life in death, and death in life.

About the Collection

Chicago-based collector Richard Harris has collected, over several decades, an encyclopedic collection of works on death and related materials. The project spans centuries, genres, and media, with works compiled around the visual concept of the the skull and the skeletal. Slought Foundation was invited by Richard Harris and Balloon Contemporary in Chicago to engage the collection discursively, and to perform a critical examination of the representation of death in the collection. Strictly Death at Slought Foundation is the result of that examination, and will be the first time the collection is presented to the general public. It is our hope at Slought Foundation that the exhibition will contribute to a transformative dialogue that repositions death centrally within culture. Likewise, Harris hopes that the exhibition "enables us to lead more meaningful lives by engaging and grappling with the reality of our finite limits." The exhibition also builds upon recent projects at Slought Foundation on death and dying by Arakawa + Gins and others, as well as international exhibitions including Fraktale IV - tod at the Palast der Republik Berlin in 2005 (

Sponsors and Credits

This program is made possible in part through the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Society of Friends of the Slought Foundation. Presented in partnership with Balloon Contemporary, Chicago.

Organized by Aaron Levy, in collaboration with Osvaldo Romberg, Jean-Michel Rabate, and Michael Graham (Balloon Contemporary)

Slought Foundation
4017 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19104
Tel: 215.701.4627
Fax: 215.764.5783

Free and open to the public: Thur-Sat 1-6pm


I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets
Fletcher Hanks
Paperback, $19.95

Welcome to the bizarre world of Fletcher Hanks, Super Wizard of the inkwell. Fletcher Hanks worked for only a few years in the earliest days of the comic book industry (1939-1941). Because he worked in a gutter medium for second-rate publishers on third-rate characters his work has been largely forgotten. But among aficionados he is legendary. Hanks drew in a variety of genres depicting science-fiction saviors, white women of the jungle, and he-man loggers. Cartoonist Paul Karasik (co-adapter of Paul Auster's City of Glass and co-author of The Ride Together, a Memoir of Autism in the Family) has spent years tracking down these obscure and hard to find stories buried in the back of long-forgotten comic book titles. Karasik has also uncovered a dark secret: why Hanks disappeared from the comics scene. This book collects 15 of his best stories in one volume followed by an Afterword which solves the mystery of "Whatever Happened to Fletcher Hanks," the mysterious cartoonist who created a hailstorm of tales of brutal retribution... and then mysteriously vanished.

"[The] recovery from oblivion of these treasures is in itself a major work of art." – Kurt Vonnegut

"Raw, powerful stuff. I'm glad to see a book like this. Fletcher Hanks was a twisted dude." – R. Crumb

"Hanks is a wild card original who very nearly slipped through the cracks of art history. To those among us who spend years sifting through the cultural chaff looking for those tiny flecks of art gold, this book is truly a miraculous dream come true." – Kim Deitch

"Fletcher Hanks was this old guy back in the old days who made magic jellybeans. The magic jellybeans looked like comics, but they were magic jellybeans." – Gary Panter

"Fletcher Hanks couldn't draw much or write hardly at all. So he turned his crude and primitive quasi-gifts into a comic-art style that made a strong impression on kids like me back in the 1940s. It's a pleasure to see this first published edition of his puzzlingly effective work doing what early comic books were supposed to do: making up a new set of rules for a new kind of art form and almost getting away with it." – Jules Feiffer

"There is something cracked here. The feeling is that of a third grader in the back row drawing unbelievably complex destructo-machines while inside of him a grown man boils with hate and rage: Kill them all! And where did those jaws come from?" – Greil Marcus

The Book Of Genesis
R. Crumb
Hardcover, $24.95

"Envisioning the first book of the bible like no one before him, R. Crumb, the legendary illustrator, reveals here the story of Genesis in a profoundly honest and deeply moving way. Originally thinking that we would do a take off of Adam and Eve, Crumb became so fascinated by the Bible’s language, “a text so great and so strange that it lends itself readily to graphic depictions,” that he decided instead to do a literal interpretation using the text word for word in a version primarily assembled from the translations of Robert Alter and the King James bible."

Krazy & Ignatz: The Complete Sunday Strips 1935-1944
George Herriman (designed by Chris Ware)
Hardcover, $160.00

Krazy & Ignatz: The Complete Sunday Strips 1925-1934 [2nd Ed.]
George Herriman (designed by Chris Ware)
Hardcover, $125.00

Volumes Two and Three (Volume One has not been published yet) of the hardcover limited edition Complete Sunday Strips. Designed by Chris Ware.

Melvin Monster
John Stanley
Hardcover, $19.95

"John Stanley is celebrated as one of the great children’s comics writers for his work on the Little Lulu series. In fact, the Lulu work is a small part of his output, he had drawn and continued to write many other comics—notably his work on the 1960s teen comics from Dell (Thirteen, Dunc and Loo, and Kookie) and his monster comedy strip Melvin Monster. D+Q is planning on launching an extensive reprinting of much of this work in discrete volumes. Our first Stanley reprint will be the three-volume Melvin Monster collection featuring all nine issues of the oddball monster boy who just wants to be good, go to school, and do as he’s told. Designed to fit nicely with our current reprinting of Tove Jansson’s Moomin series, these comics are great reading for children or comics history-minded adults. Stanley’s reputation as a great storyteller and visual comedian is richly deserved—few golden- or silver-age comics stand the test of time the way these comics do."

Poem Strip
Dino Buzzati
Paperback, $14.95

"There's a certain street--via Saterna--in the middle of Milan that just doesn't show up on maps of the city. Orfi, a wildly successful young singer, lives there, and it's there that one night he sees his gorgeous girlfriend Eura disappear, "like a spirit," through a little door in the high wall that surrounds a mysterious mansion across the way. Where has Eura gone? Orfi will have to venture with his guitar across the borders of life and death to find out.
Featuring the Ashen Princess, the Line Inspector, trainloads of Devils, Trudy, Valentina, and the Talking Jacket, "Poem Strip"--a pathbreaking graphic novel from the 1960s--is a dark and alluring investigation into mysteries of love, lust, sex, and death by Dino Buzzati, a master of the Italian avant-garde."

Jimbo in Purgatory [Signed/Numbered Edition]
Gary Panter
Hardcover, $99.95

Panter's long-awaited new work is a gigantic (12" x 17 1/4") hardcover which re-imagines his cult hero Jimbo as the protagonist in Dante's most famous work! After years of comparing Dante and Boccaccio to find commonalities between the two, Panter developed a narrative of his own that includes literary and pop references regularly injected throughout the captions of the reinterpreted cantos. Presented in a huge oversized hardcover format (even bigger than the classic RAW!) to do justice to Panter's densely packed pages, with a stunning two-color stamping on the cloth covers, Jimbo in Purgatory is an art object, a brilliant literary game, a visual feast, and the most eye-popping, visually and verbally challenging, and memorable new graphic novel of the year. Special Limited Edition of 400, includes signed and numbered woodblock print (pictured) by Gary Panter.

"Panter's most sustained and intense visual effort ever. When I saw it, I broke out into the cold sweat that real art can bring on." – Art Spiegelman

Jimbo's Inferno
Gary Panter
Hardcover, $29.95

"Don't try to pass a pop quiz on Dante's Hell based on a reading of this comic," warns Gary Panter. "It won't work. Even though the comic is engorged with Dante's Hell and though Jimbo mouths a super-condensed version of what happens in The Inferno, canto by canto, characters are fused, actions inverted, parodied, subject to mutation by my odd memories and obsessions and whims..." That said, Jimbo's Inferno is the hugely anticipated sequel (or prequel, as it was actually completed first) to Jimbo In Purgatory. In this oversize hardcover cloth-and-gold-finished volume, produced to the same exacting standards as 2004's Purgatory, Jimbo, accompanied by his trusty guide and ride Valise, visits Hell (here envisioned as a gigantic subterranean shopping mall called Focky Bocky), and in so doing runs across minotaurs, drug-addled punkettes, UFOs, giant robots, and more, leading him to such profound questions as, "Why do so many recreational activities involve smoke and heat?" Panter's Albrecht Dürer-meets-Jack Kirby graphics are wilder and more hallucinatory than ever, and given the full, expansive treatment they so richly deserve.

Winner, 2007 American Book Award

Be a Nose!
Art Spiegelman
Three Hardcovers bound together with an elastic band, $29.00

"Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Maus, creator of Wacky Packs and the Garbage Pail Kids, and father of the modern graphic novel (though he's still demanding a blood test), presents this warts-and-all reproduction of his private sketchbooks -- and the results are as candid, sharp, and funny as the relentlessly innovative man behind them. "Be a Nose!" is a rare glimpse into the secret scribblings of an American original."

An Alphabetical Ballad of Carnality
David Sandlin
Hardcover, $14.95

"This ABC for sinners spotlights creator David Sandlin's alter ego, recounting his lurid life in rhyming couplets: a "sintamental education" in 26 easy steps, from Adultery to Zealotry. This is the fifth Blab storybook, a series showcasing sequential artists from Monte Beauchamp's annual Blab anthology. Sandlin's storybook composes what can best be described as narrative painting, taking advantage of the way in which painting (art) allows the artist to bring together the conscious and the subconscious, the rational and the irrational, the realistic and the dreamlike."

Sex, Rock & Optical Illusions

The Last Lonely Saturday
Jordan Crane
Hardcover, $8.00

Jordan Crane's first self-published graphic novel is now available in a new edition from Fantagraphics! Largely wordless and cunningly rendered, this little book is sure to touch most folks. In The Last Lonely Saturday, an older man sits at his kitchen table, filled with melancholy. Dishes are piled up in the sink, a full pot of coffee burns on the counter; it's a quiet scene of existential despair. It quickly becomes clear that the man is a widower, and today is the day to visit his departed wife's gravesite. Little does he know that what the day holds for him will result in this being his last lonely Saturday. Both sweet and bitter, realistic and fantastic, The Last Lonely Saturday is an evocative, romantic novella, told in a beautiful two-color, red and yellow palette. His economical images waste not a line, and his narrative flows effortlessly from panel to panel in this heartwarming story of love and love lost.

Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary
Justin Green
Hardcover, $29.00

"A lost classic of underground cartooning, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin
Mary is Justin Green's autobiographical portrayal of his struggle with
religion and his own neuroses. Binky Brown is a young Catholic battling all
the usual problems of adolescence--puberty, parents, and the fear that the
strange ray of energy emanating from his private parts will strike a picture
of the Virgin Mary. Deeply confessional, with artwork that veers wildly
between formalist and hallucinogenic, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary
is the controversial masterpiece that invented the autobiographical graphic

These books, and thousands of others, can be purchased from:

Brickbat Books
709 South Fourth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

215 592 1207

Open every day, 11am to 7pm.

We accept Visa, MC, Amex, Paypal and cash.

We ship anywhere.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Arrivals: More Twisted Spoon!

Peter Pessl

Aquamarine is the result of two years' musings following the author's long and twisted journey (both in terms of pathways and encounters) to Mexico in 1993. After having been variously reworked, the volume was eventually published in German in 1998. Considered groundbreaking in form and style, the novel is composed of seven intertwining tales whose unsettling, exceptionally ambivalent female protagonists, "Aquamarine" and "Marine," crisscross diverse Mexican landscapes and cities of both external and internal geographies much like a madcap road movie plowing straight through historical episodes into present-day reality. Along the way we encounter the horrific tragedies of private and political worlds as the tales channel into a common stream of storytelling that is so immediate in its presentation it violently impacts the very language itself (and the immanent possibilities or impossibilities in the author's use of language). The reader is thus swept into a swirling dreamscape of words and images, a ramshackle narrative construct where every kind of reality that is, always was, and will continue to be exist simultaneously.

Aquamarine explores the unfolding of ideas using a palette of blues, yellows, beiges, or "leg-color," ideas coiled like a garden hose with all its kinks, awkward convolutions, and ungainly twists, each loop having its own radius but belonging to the same — is the same — loop. Revolution in every sense.

The Transformations Of Mr. Hadliz
Ladislav Novak

Ladislav Novak was one of the more remarkable and versatile figures in Czech art over the past forty years. A pioneer in sound and concrete poetry, he became best known for the techniques he developed in the visual arts. Though a solitary figure, he is properly associated with Surrealism, to which he maintained a close affinity throughout his life.

The Transformations of Mr. Hadliz is a combination of poetry, prose, and image. The twelve pictures, taken from a Danish calendar for 1976, are created by "froissage," a particular method that Novak invented of interpreting the random lines formed by crumpling paper. The text to the art was written in the spirit of automatism virtually overnight, and some sixteen years later in 1992. The volume is completed by poems from Novak's alter ego, Mr. Hadliz, as well as a conversation between the author and his subject.

Farewell To Plasma
Natasza Goerke

Few Polish prose writers of the past ten years have attracted as much delight and bewilderment as Natasza Goerke. Her stories, which are commonly fastened with predicates like "surreal," "grotesque," "ludicrous," "ironic," and "extravagant," call to mind the absurdist and parabolic work of Daniil Kharms, Slawomir Mrozek, Clarice Lispector, and Antonio Tabucchi. Although her reluctance toward straightforward narration, her refusal of any "responsibility" on the part of the writer to provide metaphysical product for the national masses, and her involvement with esoteric perspectives such as Buddhism and Asian cultures generally, all have caused less avant-garde-friendly critics to shake their heads in consternation, her erudition and extremely fine feeling for the Polish language have earned her recognition from all quarters as one of the most innovative and important voices of the younger generation.


Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
Vitezslav Nezval
Written in 1935 at the height of Czech Surrealism but not published until 1945, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a bizarre erotic fantasy of a young girl's maturation into womanhood on the night of her first menstruation. Referencing Matthew Lewis's The Monk, Marquis de Sade's Justine, K. H. Macha's May, F. W. Murnau's film Nosferatu, Nezval employs the language of the pulp serial novel to construct a lyrical, menacing dream of sexual awakening involving a vampire with an insatiable appetite for chicken blood, changelings, lecherous priests, a malicious grandmother, and an androgynous merging of brother with sister.

In his Foreword Nezval states: "I wrote this novel out of a love of the mystique in those ancient tales, superstitions and romances, printed in Gothic script, which used to flit before my eyes and declined to convey to me their content." Part fairy tale, part Gothic horror, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a meditation on youth and age, sexuality and death — an exploration of the grotesque that juxtaposes high and low genres, with shifting registers of language and moods that was a trademark of the Czech avant-garde. The 1970 film version is considered one of the outstanding achievements of Czech new-wave cinema.
This edition includes the first edition's original six black-and-white illustrations from Kamil Lhotak, a member of Group 42.

Baradla Cave
Eva Svankmajerova
illustrated by the author and Jan Svankmajer (collages)
Baradla Cave is a novel by the Czech Surrealist Eva Svankmajerová, who is perhaps best known for her paintings and collaboration with her husband Jan Svankmajer on a number of films. Originally published in samizdat in the 1980s, the book was republished in 1995 by Edice Analogon, having lost none of the force of its social critique and wit. Baradla is a living organism, both place (Prague) and person (a woman), and the novel explores maternity and femininity while offering a satirical look at the overweening mother-state and consumer society. As the language shifts between psuedo-scientific jargon, common vernacular, and metaphoric stream, scenes of episodic sexual violence alternate with humorous reflections on various ingrained habits and customs. Svankmajerova's sense of the absurd is seemingly without limit, fingering here practically everything having to do with modern urban existence: drug addiction, murder, sex crimes, corruption, and dysfunctional family relationships.

Severin's journey into the dark
Paul Leppin
First published in 1914, this acclaimed novel is set in Prague, a city of darkened walls and strange decay which forms the backdrop of Severin's erotic adventures and fateful encounters — a world of femmes fatales, Russian anarchists, dabblers in the occult and denizens of decadent salons.

Signs & Symptoms
Róbert Gál
Called "the Czech Cioran" by Andrei Codrescu, Róbert Gál is one of the freshest voices to come from Prague over the past few years. His writing is a mix of philosophy and prose poetry that explores the tenuousness of one's identity and existence. Ironical in his outlook, Gál's aim with this volume is to bring the great Romanian philosopher E. M. Cioran into the present in the same way that John Zorn, whose music provided the impetus for writing this book, brought Ornette Coleman into the present. The volume includes aphorisms and longer and shorter "philosophical" fragments. The photographs by Lucia Nimcová were taken specifically for this collection. As aptly described by well-known psychiatrist/publisher Ales Pech, Nimcová's nude self-portraits act as a "counterpoint to the philosophical denuding that is the book's basic premise."

Blaugast: A Novel of Decline
Paul Leppin
Blaugast is a tale of ruin. A bored clerk, Klaudius Blaugast, pursues his desires down a path spiraling into complete degradation. Homeless and destitute, having lost everything to the evil prostitute Wanda, he seeks redemption in a Prague that has become sybaritic and uncaring — a city in which he has become an outcast among the outcasts. Flashbacks to incidents in his past, hallucinatory revelations of the meaning of events long forgotten, point to the seeds of his eventual downfall.
Leppin's final novel, which he never saw published (the typescript languished for decades after his death in the archives in Prague), Blaugast is an indictment of the despotic and vulgar, an exploration of the sadistic tendencies found amongst the "moral" and "respectable." Max Brod's depiction of Leppin as "a poet of eternal disillusionment, at once a servant of the Devil and an adorer of the Madonna" nowhere rings more true than here.

The Maimed
Hermann Ungar
Set in Prague, The Maimed relates the story of a highly neurotic, socially inept bank clerk who is eventually impelled by his widowed landlady into servicing her sexual appetites. At the same time he must witness the steady physical and mental deterioration of his lifelong friend who is suffering from an unnamed disease. Part psychological farce, Ungar tells a dark, ironic tale of chaos overtaking one's meticulously ordered life. One of only two novels Ungar wrote, this translation marks the first time his work has appeared in English. His novellas and short stories are collected in Boys & Murderers

Boys & Murderers
Hermann Ungar
Boys & Murderers is the first complete collection of novellas and stories in English from Hermann Ungar, author of the highly-acclaimed novel The Maimed. A writer of unique talent whose life was prematurely ended by illness, he was much admired by Thomas Mann, who prefaces this volume, and known as the "Moravian Dostoevsky" for his analysis of the human psyche. In fiction that is often grotesque and comical, Ungar explores the depravities of the heart and delusions of the mind. Taking Prague as well as his hometown of Boskovice for his settings, he can be located in that illustrious tradition of both Prague German writers (he was associated with Max Brod in the Prague Circle) and Jewish writers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, such as Joseph Roth.

The Passive Vampire
Ghérasim Luca
Originally published in 1945 by Les Éditions de l'Oubli in Bucharest, The Passive Vampire caught the attention of the French Surrealists when an excerpt appeared in 1947 alongside texts by Jabès and Michaux in Georges Henein's magazine La part du sable. Luca, whose work was admired by Gilles Deleuze, attempts here to transmit the "shudder" evoked by some Surrealist texts, such as André Breton's Nadja and Mad Love, probing with acerbic humor the fragile boundary between "objective chance" and delirium.
Impossible to define, The Passive Vampire is a mixture of theoretical treatise and breathless poetic prose, personal confession and scientific investigation — it is 18 photographs of "objectively offered objects," a category created by Luca to occupy the space opened up by Breton. At times taking shape as assemblages, these objects are meant to capture chance in its dynamic and dramatic forms by externalizing the ambivalence of our drives and bringing to light the nearly continual equivalence between our love-hate tendencies and the world of things.

B. Hrabal
Total Fears
In these letters written to April Gifford between 1989 and 1991 but never sent, Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) chronicles the momentous events of those years as seen, more often than not, from the windows of his favorite pubs. In his palavering style that has marked him as one of the major writers and innovators of post-war European literature, Hrabal gives a humorous and at times moving account of life in Prague under Nazi occupation, communism, and the brief euphoria following the revolution of 1989 when anything seemed possible, even pink tanks. Interspersed are fragmented memories of trips taken to Britain — as he attempted to track down every location mentioned in Eliot's "The Waste Land" — and the United States, where he ends up in one of Dylan Thomas's haunts comparing the waitresses to ones he knew in Prague. The result is a masterful blend of personal history and poetic prose.

Hidden History
Otokar Brezina
The works of the Czech Symbolist Otokar Brezina (1868-1929), a writer twice nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, influenced an entire generation of artists in Bohemia and Moravia. Hidden History (published posthumously in 1935) is one of the most important works of 20th century Czech prose and represents the apotheosis of Brezina's endeavors in the essay form. I n this finely crafted collection, he discusses the role of art as a vanguard of developments in science and as a force for social change. These essays also contribute to an understanding of Brezina's poetry, for which he is better known. They comprise the most systematic exposition of his aesthetic creed, which served to inspire the Czech writers and literary critics who followed in his footsteps.

Other's Paradise
Toward the end of his life Leppin wrote: "Prague remains my deepest experience. Its conflict, its mystery, its rat-catcher's beauty have ever provided my poetic efforts with new inspiration and meaning." Others' Paradise represents one of the most intense expressions of this experience. Beginning with the highly imagistic "The Doors of Life," the eight stories contained in this volume detail the contours of the lives and visions of a collection of Prague inhabitants, from a prostitute bound to the decay of the old Jewish quarter, to a man caught in the memory of a lost love, and a shoemaker whose knowledge of the world has been constricted to the view from the window of his cellar workroom. Amidst their differing circumstances what these characters share is an intense desire for lasting human contact and the fated disappointment of all such aspirations. Binding their personal histories, woven into their most intimate details, is Prague itself, the city whose nature, mythical and yet all-too-real, gives shape and force to their desires while simultaneously determining their frustrations.

Karel Hynek Macha SOLD OUT!
Compared to Byron, Keats, Shelley, and Poe, called Lautreamont's "elder brother" by the Czech Surrealists, Karel Hynek Macha (1810-1836) was the greatest Czech Romantic poet, and arguably the most influential of any poet in the language. May, his epic masterpiece, was published in April 1836, just seven months before his death. Considered the "pearl" of Czech poetry, it is a tale of seduction, revenge, and patricide. A paean as well to his homeland, virtually every Czech student learns to recite the first stanzas of the poem from memory and new editions are still regularly published. The reason for the poem's popularity and longevity is the beauty of its music and its innovative use of language. Scorned at first by the national revivalists of the 19th century for being "un-Czech," he was held up as a "national" poet by later generations, a fate from which the interwar Czech avant-garde, who considered him a precursor, tried to rescue him.

The Sufferings of Prince Sternenhoch
Ladislav Klima
Philosopher, novelist, essayist, madman, no Czech writer has had a greater impact on underground culture than Ladislav Klíma (1878-1928). Mentor to artists as diverse as Bohumil Hrabal and the Plastic People of the Universe, Klíma's approach to philosophy was similar to that of the sages of ancient India: philosophy should not be limited to speaking or writing about it, it should be lived. Adopting Nietzsche as his paragon, he embarked on a lifelong pursuit to become God, or Absolute Will, and he developed his conception of radical subjectivism in numerous essays, aphorisms, prose works, and plays.
The Sufferings of Prince Sternenhoch is the apotheosis of Klíma's philosophy. In a series of journal entries, the novel chronicles the descent into madness of Prince Sternenhoch, the German Empire's foremost aristocrat and favorite of the Kaiser. Having become the "lowliest worm" at the hands of his deceased wife Helga, the Queen of Hells, Sternenhoch eventually attains an ultimate state of bliss and salvation through the most grotesque form of perversion. Klíma explores here the paradoxical nature of pure spirituality with a humor that is as darkly comical as it is obscene. This volume, the first of Klíma's work to appear in English translation, also includes his notorious essay "My Autobiography."

edition 69
Vitezslav Nezval / Jindrich Styrsky
Launched in 1931 by Jindrich Styrsky, Edition 69 consisted of six volumes of erotic literature and illustration that followed the path marked out by Louis Aragon's Irene's Cunt and Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye. Including the first Czech translation of Marquis de Sade's Justine and Pietro Aretino (both illustrated by Toyen), three volumes were from contemporary Czech avant-garde artists, and these were all illustrated by Styrsky himself, who also contributed the text for the last volume of the series. Because of the censorship laws Styrsky encountered with his illustrations for the first Czech publication of Lautréamont's Maldoror, the Edition 69 series was not for sale in regular retail outlets, nor was it made available to libraries. As the original colophons indicate, the books were exclusively for subscribers, collectors, and a circle of friends, and the original print runs numbered no more than 200 (Styrsky's volume was limited to 69 copies).

This volume brings together English translations of the two most important texts in the series: Nezval's "Sexual Nocturne" and Styrsky's "Emilie Comes to Me in a Dream," which is also supplemented by the original essay from psychoanalyst Bohuslav Brouk, a fellow founding member of The Surrealist Group of Czechoslovakia. Additional texts from Styrsky's dream journal are included as a contextual source. Much influenced by Max Ernst's collage-novels, Andre Masson's illustrations for both Aragon's and Bataille's volumes, as well as the idea of the book-object, Styrsky's illustrations and overall conception for the edition rank among the most important of Surrealist works. Along with the Erotic Review, which he initiated and edited during the same period, Edition 69 represented a sustained attempt by the interwar Czech avant-garde to investigate the taboos of bourgeois culture.

Time Is a Mid-Night Scream
Pavel Z
Musician, artist and poet, Pavel Z. was one of the leading figures of the Czech underground that operated outside the official culture imposed by the former communist regime. The trial that sent him and several others associated with the experimental rock group the Plastic People of the Universe to prison for their activities gave rise to the human rights declaration Charter 77. Later exiled, Pavel Z. first lived in Sweden and then in New York City, eventually resettling in Prague in the mid-1990s. Time Is a Mid-Night Scream is his poetic testimony of this period, a time of transformation for both himself and his city.

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