Sunday, December 14, 2014


Just the first two bound copies, not yet the full edition, but enough to show the beautiful printing and binding, the beautiful translation and the beautiful images. Congratulations to Nicolas and Frances McDowall (The Old Stile Press), to their binders in Northumberland, to Dick Jones and of course to yours truly, for all the hard work of completing this demanding, exciting and historic project. The final pages include afterwords by Dick Jones, Miriam Cendrars (Blaise Cendrars' daughter) and myself. Actual publication date, prices and the whereabouts of a launch are yet to be announced but watch this space and the OSP website.

As far as we know, this is the only illustrated version of Blaise Cendrars' famous poem to appear since the original edition of 1913, published and typeset by Cendrars himself with abstract images by Sonia Delaunay. A very interesting article about Cendrars appeared recently in the Times Literary Supplement which you can read here.

Technical details: the bound book in its slipcase measures 35.5 x 30.8 cms (14 x 13.5 inches). The slipcase is covered in bronze-coloured metallic cloth with a blocked-on image of Cendrars which I did for the half-title page. The binding is in red and blue Fabriano paper on boards with cloth spine. The standard edition consists of 150 copies bound as above. There are also 10 Special copies in a solander box containing the book plus a folder with 4 extra prints: two new images and two from the edition, all printed by me on paper I pre-coloured in acrylics (see photos below). I am informed by Frances that all but one of the Special copies have already been ordered.

The shadow stripes in the above and some other photos are not on the paper but from blinds on my window.


Dave said...

So awesome. What a great sense of accomplishment you and Dick must feel.

Tom said...

Well that's great. Well done! You must all justifiably proud of your effort.

Jean said...

It's beautiful. Brighter and starker, more modern in feel, than I was expecting. But I think that's appropriate, isn't it? - the original version was certainly very modern and innovative.

Dick said...

So exciting to see these first versions! Once the press is rolling - or sliding to & fro at stately pace - we'll sort out the time & place for the official launch. Keep January free!

marja-leena said...

Bravo, stunning work! Congratulations to you and Dick and Old Stile Press for a fantastic job!

I did wonder about those beautiful curved shadows on the pages, if they were print or shadows. Thanks for answering my silent question.

Catalyst said...

Beautiful work. Congratulations.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Dave, yes, the whole project was exciting from the start but it took a long time to get on track - the train metaphor really fits,

Tom, there's definitely a sense of satisfaction and pride in a job well done...and that's not vanity!

Jean,the stark/bright effect is I think in tune with Cendrars'poem. I'd like to imagine that he'd be pleased with our version even though it's so different.

Dick, timing now depends entirely on the binders so the printing press has ceased to roll. Hope to see you soon to talk about launching.

Marja-Leena, I too thought those shadows beautiful. But in reality, with relief blocks and letterpress printing such an effect would be impossible. Screen-printing probably could do it.

Thank you Bruce. Wish you could see the real thing!

Anonymous said...

Warm congrats Natalie, the book looks absolutely fantastic! Seeing the images you shared during the development and the proofs at the exhibition couldn't prepare me for how stunning it is, it works in the most wonderful way - and in a way that only you could achieve Natalie,

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Thanks, Phil, that's great to hear. I'll let you know when we'll have a launching. Meanwhile, good luck with work for your next show.

Anne said...

What a wonderful achievement. I want to have a copy.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Thank you, Anne, that's great! You can order a copy from The Old Stile Press at
or go to their website which I've linked to above.
Are you back home from your UK trip or have you not gone yet?