An occasional newsletter
News on progress on forthcoming books from the Press
Hinton Charterhouse, Bath, UK

December 2002

a new title on our list
Fedor Tiutchev

A Russian poet and a Russian illustrator.

to be published in late 2003

read the next news item on this title

Poetry has a natural attraction for the private press. There is the opportunity for special treatment of the text, without the sheer quantity of printing necessary to put, say, a 100pp book through the press. Since we acquired our Western proof press a couple of years ago, longer texts have become more practical propositions, but it is pleasing to drop a 'slim volume' into our production schedule to leaven the fare, especially when it comes with some strong wood engravings.

Fedor Tiutchev (1803-1873) published poems off and on from 1829, notably between 1836 and 1840 in Pushkin's journal The Contemporary, but he belonged to no poetic group and attached little value to his own verses and none to their publication. Only two books of lyric poetry appeared during his lifetime. apparently thanks entirely to the good offices of his friends including Turgenev. Avril Pyman has prepared translations for about fifteen of Tiutchev's poems. Of Tiutchev and his work, she writes 'He was influenced in youth by the Latin poets, and by Pascal and Lamartine, but later by Goethe, Schiller, and Heine. Yet it is perhaps to Tiutchev's years of semi-retirement on his estate near Moscow and to his love for Elena Deniseva who bore him three children, that we owe many of the most inspired poems. In his work, religious impulse alternates with nihilism, veneration for ensouled nature with awful glimpses of the void, and a sensual love of cosmic order with intense, self-destructive attunement to the fascination of 'ancient chaos'. Always sonorous, his language is never artificial or pompous, his poetry conveying fleeting but profound existential insights.'

Avril Pyman studied Russian at Cambridge University where she completed a PhD thesis on the origins of Russian Symbolism in 1958. Whilst on a British Council scholarship to Leningrad to work on a biography of the poet Aleksandr Blok, she was introduced to Kirill Sokolov, a relative of the poet, and after their marriage in 1963 he illustrated her editions of Blok's Selected Verse, Three Plays by Evgeny Shvarts, and the Selected Prose of Mikhail Bulgakov, work which earned a Bookseller award in 1973. She translated prose and poetry from Russian into English until they left Moscow for England in 1974 where she has written A Life of Alexander Blok and a History of Russian Symbolism, taught at the University of Durham, and became a Reader Emeritus on her retirement in 1996, in which year she was also elected a Fellow of the British Academy.

Tiutchev's poems will be accompanied by strikingly cut wood engravings by Kirill Sokolov. He was born in Moscow in 1930 and worked and exhibited primarily as an illustrator, engraver and lithographer until he and Avril left Russia. In England, he has illustrated two Russian classics for Oxford University Press and several books of poetry, made a series of cover designs for the poetry magazine Stand, and exhibited with the Society of Graphic Artists and Society of Miniaturists. He has worked in a wide range of materials and in the 1980s experimented with various techniques: silk-screen, sugar aquatint, dry point, various forms of flat-bed printing, and engraving on plastic blocks, the last of these for a series of engravings for Akhmatova's Requiem (Black Cygnet Press).

For this rare presentation of Tiutchev in English, the text will be printed in hand-set 14pt Monotype Octavian, and the engravings will of course be printed from the wood . The price has still to be fixed but we will announce it in a future newletter in 2003. The edition will be 100 copies.

recent developments on
Our website

The last few months have seen a lot of new material on our website.

As our e-newsletters build we have been indexing them for easier access - check the news section of the site.

When Harry McIntosh cast the type for Jump of the Manta Ray this summer, artist Philip Hughes, with whom we collaborated on the book, visited Harry to watch the work in progress. He came back with a number of photographs of Harry at work and three of them appear on our website. Click on the views button at the site and follow the link to views of the Press's equipment. On that page you will see a thumbnail of Harry wrapping type ready for shipping - click on that for the larger images.

Jump of the Manta Ray was the major (and only) book we produced in 2002. Photographs of the printing are now on our site - go to the entry for the book by clicking on the in print button, and select Jump of the Manta Ray from the list. There you will find a 'See how the book was printed' button which will take you to a series of seven photos of us at work on the Western proof press. Philip's Hughes's images were the subject of two exhibitions including one at the Sherman Galleries in Sydney, Australia. By following the 'See the gallery exhibition of the book ' link you can see how the book looked on show as well some of the large and compound versions of Hughes's images.

In our last newsletter we promised some excerpts from our books, so that you can get a flavour of the text as well as of the look of the book and its construction. The first two are a 12pp extract from our forthcoming Stanley Morison and 'John Fell', and chapter 3 from the Victorian travel diary Tonge's Travels - click on the 'read more' button in the listing for the book (The listing can be reached by clicking on the plans or in print button at the site as appropriate, and selecting the book from the list presented.) Excerpts take the form of pdf files readable with Acrobat Reader. In future we also plan to have excerpts from The Fell Revival, and Harry Carter, Typographer.

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2002.