“SOFT-EYED DREAMERS OF THE FORBIDDEN INEFFABLE”: LIMITED FIRST EDITION OF VENUS CASTINA, WITH 11 FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALEXANDER KING
BULLIET, C.J. Venus Castina. Famous Female Impersonators Celestial and Human… With Illustrations by Alexander King. New York: Covici, Friede, 1928. Quarto, original half black cloth, black and silver diapered boards, uncut, in original slipcase with paper label. $450.
Limited first edition of Bulliet’s fascinating history of female impersonators, number 883 of only 960 copies, with 11 striking full-page illustrations and in-text decorations by renowned artist and author Alexander King.
Respected art critic Clarence J. Bulliet here pays tribute to the colorful history of female impersonators. As a critic for Chicago’s Magazine of the Art World and the Chicago Daily News, Bulliet “was widely read and wrote… in support of modernism. He was influential, as his weekly was the largest such American publication in the late 1920s (Encyclopedia of Chicago). Bulliet’s Venus Castina begins with “the lovely Castina herself,” who, as a form of the Roman goddess Venus, was sympathetic to “the yearnings of feminine souls locked up in male bodies.” According to Herodotus, Venus cursed a group of Scythians who had pillaged her temple at Ascelon by turning them into women. Bulliet’s fascinating account includes a rich assortment of figures across time: “kings and princes and heroes of old days and modern… soft-eyed dreamers of a forbidden ineffable, warriors and poets, artists, statesmen, quacks, hoodlums and harlequins.” Austrian-born artist Alexander King, renowned for his illustrations of O’Neill’s Emperor Jones and The Hairy Ape, Flaubert’s Salammbo, and Villon’s collected works, also served as an associate editor of Life Magazine, and was a close friend of such writers as e.e. cummings, Isak Dinesen and Henry Miller. He also made regular appearances on Jack Parr’s late night TV show.
Book fine, tape repairs to very scarce slipcase. A very desirable copy.