SIGNED LIMITED FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF NOBEL LAUREATE PERSE'S "MASTERWORK," TRANSLATED BY T.S. ELIOT, ONE OF ONLY 350 COPIES OF ANABASIS SIGNED BY ELIOT
(PERSE, Saint-John) ELIOT, T.S. Anabasis. A poem by St.-J. Perse with a Translation into English by T.S. Eliot. London: Faber & Faber, 1930. Octavo, original gilt-stamped green cloth, uncut, original acetate, original slipcase.
Signed limited first edition in English of Nobel laureate Perse's celebrated poem, featuring the translation of T.S. Eliot, number 11 of only 350 copies signed by Eliot, who ranked this a work "of the same importance as the later work of Mr. James Joyce, as valuable as Anna Livia Plurabelle."
Awarded the 1960 Novel Prize for Literature, Saint-John Perse, pseudonym of French diplomat Alexis Saint-Leger Leger, was "a poet of candescent belief in the indestructibility of humanity… his audacious use of pungent imagery and arcane symbolism set him apart, as did his celebration of the inexhaustible power of life to triumph over disaster… Among poets writing in English, Archibald MacLeish, T. S. Eliot and Louise Varèse were drawn to Perse and influenced by him" (New York Times). Eliot, in particular, was fascinated by this work, which was written by Perse in China and first published in French as Anabase in 1924. Eliot, who began working on this first translation in English in 1926, describes the poem in his preface, as "a series of images of migration, of conquest of vast spaces in Asiatic wastes, of destruction and foundation of cities and civilizations… a piece of writing of the same importance as the later work of Mr. James Joyce, as valuable as Anna Livia Plurabelle."
Eliot's choice of Perse's most famous work is "an exemplification of his perspective on translation, and he worked closely with Perse," who often "helped him with translating suggestions… Eliot's translation follows the source text quite closely and strives to render, besides the content, [its] rhythm and the expressiveness" (Birsanu, T.S. Eliot and the Modernist Approach to Translation). The poem "broods the spirit of human longing ('plough-land of dreams') into a masterwork with logical progression and structure… Perse's unusual vocabulary and 'semantic cross-breeding' create, as Caillot says, a mysterious obliquity which, though it may seem at first obscure, is actually a recreation of language… Perse cannot be fitted comfortably into a tradition, but it is possible to hold that he shares a poetic climate with three difficult poets of symbolism—Rilke, Valery and Mallarme" (New York Times). Issued simultaneously with the first trade edition on May 22, 1930. With French text and English text printed on opposite pages. Gallup A16. Mahaffey, 270. Sackton A16b.
A fine copy in a lightly worn slipcase.