Vítězslav Nezval, Jindřich Štyrský
Twisted Spoon Press
Launched in 1931 by Jindrich Styrsky, Edition 69 consisted of six volumes of erotic literature and illustration that followed the path marked out by Louis Aragon’s Irene’s Cunt and Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye. Including the first Czech translation of Marquis de Sade’s Justine and Pietro Aretino (both illustrated by Toyen), three volumes were from contemporary Czech avant-garde artists, and these were all illustrated by Štyrský himself, who also contributed the text for the last volume of the series. Because of the censorship laws Štyrský encountered with his illustrations for the first Czech publication of Lautréamont’s Maldoror, the Edition 69 series was not for sale in regular retail outlets, nor was it made available to libraries. As the original colophons indicate, the books were exclusively for subscribers, collectors, and a circle of friends, and the original print runs numbered no more than 200 (Štyrský’s volume was limited to 69 copies).
This volume brings together English translations of the two most important texts in the series: Nezval’s “Sexual Nocturne” and Štyrský’s “Emilie Comes to Me in a Dream,” which is also supplemented by the original essay from psychoanalyst Bohuslav Brouk, a fellow founding member of The Surrealist Group of Czechoslovakia. Additional texts from Styrsky’s dream journal are included as a contextual source. Much influenced by Max Ernst’s collage-novels, Andre Masson’s illustrations for both Aragon’s and Bataille’s volumes, as well as the idea of the book-object, Styrsky’s illustrations and overall conception for the edition rank among the most important of Surrealist works. Along with the Erotic Review, which he initiated and edited during the same period, Edition 69 represented a sustained attempt by the interwar Czech avant-garde to investigate the taboos of bourgeois culture.