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Michael Fagan Fine Art & Rare Books

Epigramatikuv zivotni roman. (An Epigrammarian's Biography)

Epigramatikuv zivotni roman. (An Epigrammarian’s Biography)

Jaroslav (Jaroslav Vojtech) Octavo16.5x12.5 cm, decorated cloth, (36) pp. Inscribed by Jaroslav Vojtech to the famous culture-defense lawyer Kamill Resler. Illustrations by Frantisek Bidlo. The colophon states that the book was printed "In the Reich during the period of forced labor in a limited number of copies in 1944". Perhaps even more risky than Vojtech's verse on the epigrammarian's heroic effort to write poetry and truth in the face of censorship are Bidlo's three illustrations of the young artist wielding a pen, engaging in satirical activities and then being imprisoned by the target of his satire. Tragically Bidlo (1895-1945), one of the most scathing caricaturists of Nazis in the 1930s, predicts his own fate here: he was persecuted during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia and arrested in January 1945, imprisoned at Terezin and died a few months later from typhus. Another heroic figure connected this book is Kamill Resler (1893-1961), to whom Vojtech inscribes this copy. Resler defended a number of leftist artists and writers (Jindrich Styrský, Frantisek Halas and Josef Hora, S.K. Neumann), organizations and publishers (Václav Petr and Rudolf Skerík). His office was often transformed into a cultural salon where leftist poets (Halas, Seifert, Hora) and artists (Pravoslav Kotík, Franti sek Kobliha, Václav Masek) would often meet, including his good friend Frantisek Bidlo. It was during the occupation that he put himself at the highest risk, defending a number of Jewish and leftist prisoners (including Bidlo) and financially supporting the victims and their families. He was eventually taken in by the Gestapo but released. In addition to his legal work he was a publisher, writer and translator. Vojtech (1922-2003) was an eternal thorn in the side of social and political establishments with a scathing humor. He acquired a prominent position in the Dubcek régime until the invasion. OCLC finds 4 copies held worldwide, none in North America. A fine copy in fine dust wrapper.