BLISS, Charles Kasiel [originally Karl Kasiel BLITZ]. Semantography (Blissymbolics). A Logical Writing for an Illogical World. [Sydney,] Semantography (Blissymbolic) Publications, .
8vo. Original green cloth lettered in gilt, dust-wrapper printed on both sides; pp. 882, facsimiles, illustrations, and symbols in the text; a very good copy of a great rarity.
First edition in bookform, after a mimeographed publication in theree brochures had been privately produced from a typescript in 1949. This is the introduction of a ideographic writing system, born out of the author's experience of policitcal and racial hatred in the 1930s and 40s Central Europe, which in his conviction resulted from people not understanding each other's different languages. In Shanghai exile Bliss discovered the Chinese ideographic writing system, which inspired him to this, his main work. In 1965 Bliss wrote about his birthpalce '20 different nationalities hated each other, mainly because they spoke and thought in different languages'. In the prefaces to this very rare book Bliss naturally refers to and celebrates Leibniz, whose life-long interest in a universal language had as well been underpinned by his knowledge of Chinese iedeographs.
'Charles Kasiel Blitz was born to Jewish parents in Austria [actually in Austrian Ukraine] in 1897. After graduating in Chemical Engineering from Vienna Technical University in 1922, Bliss became chief of patents in a large electrical firm. He fled from Nazi occupation during World War II, making his way via England [where he was advised to change his name] to Shanghai where he lived until travelling to Australia in 1946. While in England, he officially changed his surname to Bliss. In Australia, Bliss did not return to his profession of chemical engineering, but took a job on the construction line of General Motors Holden, so that he could concentrate on perfecting a system of sign language he had developed using 'Blissymbols' to help people communicate. The system enabled people to use simple symbols to express themselves, without being confused by spelling and grammatical complexities. In 1949 he published Semantic Bliss symbols. In 1971 the Ontario Crippled Children's Home began to use Bliss symbols for the teaching of communication to cerebral palsied children. After the death of his wife Claire in 1961, the Semantography Trust Fund was established under the terms of her will, for the purpose of propagating the Bliss concept. In 1974, Film Australia and the National Film Board of Canada made a film about Bliss entitled Mr Symbol Man. The Blissymbolics Communication Foundation was established in Toronto, Canada in 1975, to maintain standard symbol form and to provide training and materials for people who apply Blissymbolics with non-speaking persons. The Foundation was renamed the Blissymbolics Communication Institute in 1978. Bliss received an Order of Australia in 1969 and an Advance Australia Award in 1982 in recognition of his work. He was also appointed an Honorary Fellow in Linguistics at the Australian National University in 1979' (National Library of Australia, online).
~b~COPAC locates a single copy of the first, 1949 edition, at Senate House and this edition at UCL, in the BL and at University of Manchester; a Training Editon of 1978 is located at UCL and University of Southampton.