NASH, Paul Genesis. Twelve Woodcuts by Paul Nash. Soho: The Nonesuch Press, 1924.
Slim 8vo; original black paper-covered boards, embossed and lettered in gilt to upper and lower edges of upper boards, as well as to spine; edges untrimmed; pp. ; french-folded as issued; 12 woodcuts by Paul Nash; light spotting and offsetting to the initial leaf, otherwise an exceptionally clean copy; in the orange jacket which is lightly spotted in places, the spine evenly faded, and some small chips and closed tears to edges; the rest of the orange colour still vibrant, and a book increasingly difficult to find in good condition.
One of 375 numbered copies, this no. 298. The cuts were printed from the wood with the text in Rudolf Koch's Neuland type. This was the first extended appearance of Neuland type in England. It combined superbly with Nash's striking woodcuts.
The book was produced during a period when Nash regarded himself as ‘a war artist without a war’. Nash's woodcuts start with a solid black evocation of The Void, his stark images gradually emerging from primordial darkness into divine light, dynamic semi-abstract forms evoking the mystery of the appearance of the universe at God’s command. Facing these brooding wood engravings is the King James version of the text, stripped of punctuation, with the rough-hewn characters deliberately chosen to match the force of Nash’s dark engravings, the image and text uniting to create a modernist ‘Block book’. Because of the heavy black illustrations and text, the pages were doubled over as ‘French folds’ to avoid distracting show-through.
It is now recognised as a high point in his artistic output and one of the most significant illustrated books of the twentieth century.