Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Primer for the Gradual Understanding of Gertrude Stein (Black Sparrow Press, 1971, signed and numbered limited edition)

Here's a strange new addition to my library: Black Sparrow Press's 1971 book A Primer for the Gradual Understanding of Gertrude Stein, edited by Robert Haas. The book is absolutely gorgeous and features a slipcase of marbled paper and a red and and tan silk binding. Photo below, along with the wonderfully '70s' title page:

For this compilation, Haas has compiled a 1946 interview along with twelve texts by Stein that each represent an era of her craft. Two critical essays round out the collection's "gradual understanding"; one by Gertrude Stein Raffel and one by Donald Sutherland. Take a look at the title page:

Here's where things get even more interesting: this book was originally issued an edition of 500 hardcover copies and 60 numbered copies, each with a pasted-in holograph (ie, hand-written) signature by Stein. This in number 53 of those 60. I've never seen anything like this. Of course with this book being published 25 years after her death, it would be impossible to make a signed edition with the traditional Black Sparrow limitations, so it appears they found 60 instances of Stein's signature to paste into the colophon:


This brown rectangle is a thin sheet of paper that's been glued in. It is indeed Stein's signature (matching all the ones I've seen online) - perhaps these came from letters or some sort of set of expendable documents? Absolutely fascinating.

Currently reading:
The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka

Currently listening to:
"Wish" by The Cure

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