by František Halas, Vítĕslav Nezval, and Jindřich Štyrsky
Launched in 1931 by Jindřich Štyrsky, 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 in the series were from Czech avant-garde artists, and these were all illustrated by Štyrsky himself, who also contributed the text for the series’ final volume. Brought together in original English translations by Jed Slast, Edition 69 includes Nezval’s “Sexual Nocturne”, Halas’ erotic poetry collection “Thyrsos”, and Štyrsky’s “Emilie Comes to Me in a Dream”, including the original postscript from psychoanalyst and fellow Surrealist Bohuslav Brouk. For each, Štyrsky chose a different technique for the artwork, from pen and ink drawings to graphic collages to pornographic photomontages.
Influenced by Max Ernst’s collage-novels, André Masson’s illustrations, and the book as object, Štyrsky’s overall conception for the Edition 69 series ranks it among the notable achievements of European Surrealism, representing as well a sustained attempt by the interwar Czech avant-garde to investigate the taboos of bourgeois culture.
Text adapted from the publisher’s press materials
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