Saturday, March 03, 2012

Terre de Diamant by Nanos Valaoritis

This is an unusual and fascinating book. It is by one of the great men of the Twentieth Century Greek Letters, Nanos Valaoritis. It dates to 1958, at which time Valaoritis, who had lived a very cosmopolitan life, was in Paris and was known as one of the surrealist poets in the city at the time, very much involved with Andre Breton and others. It was during this period also that he met his wife, the surrealist painter Marie Wilson. This book consists of a series of prose poems, none of them longer than a paragraph, each faced with one of these peculiar illustrations, lithographs in fact, by Wilson. It was, of course, the lithographs that caught my eye first. Having googled some of Marie Wilson's paintings, they are clearly in her style, but reducing that style to black and white seems to intensify it somehow. I thought they were almost cthhuloid in tone, an idea that took further root when I began to read some of the titles of the poems they illustrate. Like the three below for example: Le Palais des Yeux, Le Demon du Ciel, and Le Genie du Temps respectively.

This is one of 600 copies, 70 of which were in Chamois covers and numbered, which this is not. However, it is made slightly more desirably, I think, by an inscription from the author.

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