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That was then



I'm forwarding this message, which I thought was an important take on small
presses, print runs, distribution, and other matters related to many book
arts people as well, and leading to an understanding of the importance of
small and ignored publishing ventures.

>Small Presses
>
>
>"It was, if anything, a Printing Vortex. Books were cheap to produce in
>France. On l'Ile Saint Louis William Bird's Three Mountain Press published
>Hemingway, Williams, Pound: notably in 1925 A Draft of XVI Cantos, in
>folio. Nancy Cunard later bought Bird's assets, and in 1930 her Hours press
>issued A Draft of XXX Cantos (200 copies)" (384).
>
>Spring and All: "written in New Jersey, printed in Dijon, published in
>Paris, distributed--------? Not distributed, really. There were 300 copies,
>Paris bookshops were not interested, American customs held up shipments for
>months, American reviewers based 12 miles from Rutherford merely sneered at
>expatriates when they noticed such books at all. 'Nobody ever saw
>it'--Williams 35 years later-- 'it had no circulation at all'" (385).
>
>"They worked in utter obscurity, as if in Paris. Williams was 'discovered'
>only in 1948, when Paterson I suddenly attracted reviews; Zukofsky and
>Oppen and Bunting not until the 1950's and 1960's, when reprints of work 30
>years old began appearing, to answer tastes a long time forming and still
>hardly articulate. The 1930's public heard of MacLeish, and Stephen Vincent
>Benet, and Robert Frost (now too quickly dismissed as an Eisenhower poet);
>and journalism for which Hart Crane's suicide conferred importance on The
>Bridge found no way to get interested in Zukofsky's "A", whose author
>jumped off no boat" (405-406).
>
>"A mystique of the word--as in Miss Stein's case--is encouraged by the
>circumstance that one's words will not be read.... 'Toasted Susie is my ice
>cream,' wrote Miss Stein, and why not? To so fit and pack and lock and
>arrange the words that when their capsules are one day broken open--perhaps
>after 50 years, on an unrecognized planet--they will affirm structured
>realities, like a watch that should commence ticking as though made
>yesterday, that seemed the aim and morality of style" (385).
>
>
>Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era (U of Calif. P, 1971)
>
>


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