Penka Rare Books
    Philipp S. Penka
    Martin-Luther-Straße 99
  D 10825 Berlin

Phone :     030 20678736
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Main topics:
Moderne Literatur und Kunst, Avantgarde, Russland und Osteuropa, Kulturgeschichte

Barbarus, Johannes and Jaan Vahtra. Geomeetriline inimene. VI kogu värsse [Geometrical man. 6th book of poems]. Tartu: Propeller, 1924. Octavo (24.5 × 16.5 cm). Original wrappers with a constructivist design and typography by Jaan Vahtra; 109, [3] pp. One original woodcut print and fifteen smaller illustrations by Vahtra in the text; printed on thick paper. A very good copy. 2.400,00 EUR
One of the most significant publications of the Estonian avant-garde, which shows the breadth of Barbarus` literary aspirations and his interest in constructivism. The collection of poems consists of five cycles, "Geometrical man," "Human space," "The cast of man," "Living monuments," and "Paris," and is illustrated with fifteen vignettes and one full-page original woodcut print by Jaan Vahtra. In the volume accompanying a 2012 exhibition of Estonian avant-garde art at the Kumu Museum in Tallinn, Tiit Hennoste writes, citing Barbarus: "His positive programme is a declaration of revolution and the role of the poet as creator of new life: `... new poetry is written on the wall of the big city with an electric finger, is created in the smoke of factory chimneys, the burning flames of smelting ovens: new poetry is cosmic, international, the poetry of humanity [...].` Barbarus`s poetry became Constructivist. The first fruit of this is the manifestation of Estonian Constructivism, Geomeetriline inimene, featuring Barbarus`s texts accompanied by illustrations and designs by Jaan Vahtra [...] This was the first pure Estonian metropolitan poetry collection, the sources of which one can find in contemporary French poetry" (Geomeetriline inimene, 81). The constructivist principle is also embodied visually in the poetic texts themselves, which make ample use of indentations, enjambment, ellipses, varying font sizes, as well as vertical and horizontal lines. Barbarus (Johannes Vares, 1890-1946), lived as a doctor in Pärnu, from where he pursued his literary career and was also active as a socialist politician. Afraid of the NKVD, he committed suicide in 1946. KVK, OCLC show three copies, at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, the British Library, and the Frick Library.
From Chapter: Literature | Estonia | Books costing more than EUR 1.000
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Bulgakov, Mikhail. Master i Margarita [The Master and Margarita]. Moscow, ca. 1968-1972. 212, 197 leaves of typescript to rectos, 30 × 21 cm, in the original blue string-bound buckram portfolio. Light wear to portfolio, else about very good. 2.200,00 EUR
Samizdat edition of Mikhail Bulgakov`s multi-layered satire of Soviet society, set in ancient Jerusalem and Moscow of the 1930s, which acquired cult status with the Soviet readership in the 1960s-70s. Bulgakov was the subject of much criticism throughout Soviet rule and many of his works were not published until Perestroika. This text suffered a particularly complicated fate. After destroying an early version in 1928, Bulgakov continued to work on the novel, but died before seeing any part of it published. In 1966-67, a heavily censored edition was published in the journal Moskva. Both the censors and the editors severely cut the text, removing twelve percent. After Bulgakov`s widow agreed to provide access to the manuscript, typewritten copies of the excised passages began to circulate in samizdat. The full, uncensored text appeared in a 1973 Soviet edition; researchers were first given access to the manuscript in 1987, and the most authoritative version was published in the five-volume 1990 edition. While samizdat versions of Master and Margarite were made throughout the 1970-80s, this edition is particularly interesting: it was produced in the period of 1967 and 1973, when the full text was still censored. The novel has here been retyped in full, presumably based on one of the modified samizdats in circulation; all censored passages are marked by horizontal lines before and after. A remarkable document of this iconic novel`s complicated publishing history.
From Chapter: Literature | Books costing more than EUR 1.000
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First Czech book for the blind - První cítanka pro slepé dítky školy obecné [First reader for blind children in general school]. Prague: C. k. školní knihosklad, 1896. Quarto (29 × 21 cm). Contemporary card boards cloth; 45 leaves. About very good; canceled stamps of a Czech school. 900,00 EUR
Volume one of the first Czech reader for blind children, compiled by workers at Klár`s Institute for the Blind (Kláru°v ústav slepcu°) in Prague, where a printer`s shop was founded in 1894 to publish the first Czech books in alphabets for the blind; prior to this, students of the Institute had to use German and other international texts. This volume was set in Klein letters, a relief script using connected letter forms, invented by Viennese blind-script pioneer Johann Wilhelm Klein (1765-1848); later publications of the Institute used Braille script. KVK, OCLC only show the copy at the Czech National Library.
From Chapter: Linguistics | Children`s Books
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Hrabal, Bohumil and Evald Schorm. Príliš hlucná samota [Too Loud a Solitude]. Original unrealized filmscript. Prague: Film Studio Barrandov, 1978. Quarto (28 × 20 cm). Mimeographed wrappers with tan paper spine strip; mimeographed typescript to rectos only; [2], 107 pp. Signed and inscribed by Hrabal on the first page in 1983. Very good, save for a few nicks to wrappers. With an original color photograph showing Hrabal drinking a beer at his favorite pub. 2.000,00 EUR
Unrecorded film script of the acclaimed lyrical novella by Hrabal, widely considered the most important Czech author of the last century. While he was strictly speaking not a dissident, some of Hrabal`s works were not published until the fall of Communism in 1989, including Too Loud a Solitude, which circulated in samizdat form. The book tells the story of a dim-witted, yet dazzlingly well-read waste-paper compacter, who selectively saves and collects the books he is meant to destroy day by day. Hrabal`s writing served as the basis for two films by the Czech New Wave, including Jirí Menzel`s Closely Watched Trains (1966), which went on to win an Oscar in 1968. This script, authored jointly by Hrabal and Evald Schorm, was not produced for unknown reasons. Given the potentially subversive content and the novella`s ambiguous lyrical tone, however, it is easy to imagine why the censors in Normalization-era Czechoslovakia would have been wary. We are not aware of any other copy of this missing piece of Hrabal`s oeuvre; the script is not held by the Czech National Library.
From Chapter: Literature | Movies | Books costing more than EUR 1.000
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Kocman, Jirí Hynek. JHK`s Paper-Re-Making Book, no. 77. Czech Republic, ca. 2000. Book object consisting of artist`s quarter calf binding (30 × 20 cm), eight leaves of thick hand-made paper, with boards and pastedowns of the same paper. Very good. 550,00 EUR
One of Kocman`s famous book objects, which are produced by pulping books in water and producing a sturdy "paper" that incorporates various visible bits of text from the utilized books. With the number 77 and Hynek`s customary small oval stamp with the monogram JHK inside rear board; based on other known works in the sequence, presumably created around 2000. Born in 1947, Kocman`s early work was conceptual and action-based in nature; after 1977, he turned to the book and paper medium, especially interested in "transforming found paper into sheets of new paper in which `identifiable islands` of the original printed or written message are retained" (Jirí Valoch, "J. H. Kocman. Artists` Books and Papers").
From Chapter: Artist` books | English-language books
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Siadnieu, Masei. Tsen` Ianki Kupaly: paema [The shadow of Ianka Kupala: a long poem]. Watenstedt: Belaruskae vydavetstva, 1947. Small octavo (15 × 10 cm). Original stapled pictorial wrappers (artist unknown; signed A. S.); [4], 15 pp. Light age-toning; a bit of wear to tips of spine; overall a very good copy of a fragile title. 350,00 EUR
Belarusian publication printed in a German camp for Displaced Persons (DP), a long poem commemorating Ianka Kupala, one of the greatest twentieth-century Belarusian writers. Though he was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1941 for his poetry collection "Ad sertsa" (From the Heart), he had always been regarded with distrust by the government for his connections with anti-Soviet nationalist organizations. Kupala died mysteriously in 1942 in Moscow, falling down the stairwell of Hotel Moskva. Though his death was ruled an accident, there have been speculations he was killed by Stalin`s agents. As many other young progressive Belarusian writers after the Revolution, the author, Masei Siadnieu (Sednev), was arrested and sent to Kolyma hard labor camp and later transferred to Minsk and placed in the notoriously horrific Volodarka Prison. In the early 1940s, he fled to Germany, lived in various DP camps, and eventually moved to the US in 1950. Rare, especially in such outstanding condition, with KVK and OCLC listing four institutional copies (Pisa University, NYPL, University of Toronto, University of Illinois). No copies found in German institutions.
From Chapter: Literature
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Tungsram Radio. Catalog issued October 1924. Tungsram, 1934. Single leaf, printed recto and verso (23.5 × 15.5 cm), twice folded, with anonymous black and orange photomontage cover. Very light foxing to upper margin; else very good. 280,00 EUR
Czech-language catalog for Tungsram radio lamps, with a striking unattributed photo-montage cover. Perhaps inspired by the dynamic photo-montage compositions of Vojtech Tittelbach (1900-1971), the design evokes radio`s powerful role in conveying up-close the atmosphere of live sporting events. Tungsram, a Hungarian-founded company, produced telephony equipment as well as electric bulbs and tubes. This title not pictured in Toman, "Photo/Montage in Print." Not found in KVK, OCLC.
From Chapter: Company Publications | Electricity
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