Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina

TOLSTOY, Leo; [Constance GARNETT, Trans.]. Anna Karenina.

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TOLSTOY, Leo; [Constance GARNETT, Trans.] Anna Karenina. Cambridge: Printed for the members of the Limited Editions Club, 1951.

8vo., 2 vols; original pictorial cloth; upper edge gilt, decorative end papers; pp. vol I xii, 503, [i], vol II [iv], 505-934, [vi]; with 24 double-sided lithographic plates by Barnett Freedman, the parts divided with heavy stock, and numerous tailpieces; spines a little sunned, slipcase with small chip to bottom of spine, very good.
Limited edition, signed by the illustrator. Out-of-series presentation copy with inscription 'Office Copy' and blindstamp of the Limited Editions Club to limitation page.
Freedman was admitted to the Royal College of Art in 1925, and, after many years struggling to make a name for himself, he was finally introduced to the publishers, Faber and Gwyer in the Ariel Poems series. He designed book jackets for them for twenty-five years, gaining in popularity from his work on Siegfried Sassoon's Memoirs of an Infantry Officer. Together with War and Peace, his illustrations for Anna Karenina are recognised as one of the finest examples of twentieth century book design, and has ensured the artist an honoured place in the history of book production. In a monthly letter of the Limited Editions Club from May 1951, entitled 'Anna and the Englishman' Freedman writes of his artwork "I have endeavoured to express something of the intimate quality of the 'Family Album', the monochromatic character, and the particular style of colour being exploited to give the feeling of the period brought out by the author".
After much deliberation, the Curwen Press chose Constance Garnett's translation of Tolstoy's epic work as, somewhat condescendingly, they were looking for 'a truly faithful translation of Tolstoy' which, according to experts must be done in 'lumbering English': "Tolstoy was not a good writer; his style in Russian is crude".
Desmond Flower, the publisher, book-collector and writer wrote of Freedman's illustrations: "many happy hours may be spent over the fine point as to whether auto-lithography was made for Barnett Freedman or Barnett Freedman for auto-lithography".