Friday, October 23, 2020

Jazz Age Benito Cereno

Illustration for Herman Melville's Benito Cereno
1926 by E. McKnight Kauffer. Accession Number 1963-39-306
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

In 1926 The Nonesuch Press made a "beautiful and unusual book" (as described in the New York Times review by Herbert L. Matthews) of Herman Melville's short fiction Benito Cereno, issued in a limited edition of 1650 copies. Copy-text is the 1856 book version in The Piazza Tales. This English Benito Cereno for the Jazz Age features amazing illustrations by American artist Edward McKnight Kauffer. Elizabeth A. Schultz describes and reproduces two of these (ascribed to "McKnight Kanfer") in “Re-viewing Melville: The Illustrated Editions,” Melville Society Extracts Number 103 (December 1995), pages 1-18 at 7-8. Some of Kauffer's original drawings for the 1926 Nonesuch edition are held by the Smithsonian Institution in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. The Smithsonian has the "Illustration for Herman Melville's Benito Cereno" shown above

 and many other works donated by Mrs. E. Mcknight Kauffer. 

Melville is represented by "Benito Cereno" and only "Benito Cereno" in the 1935 anthology of Major American Writers (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company), edited by Howard Mumford Jones and Ernest E. Leisy. Available for 1 hour (after I'm done with it) on the great Internet Archive:

The text in this neglected 1935 Benito Cereno follows The Piazza Tales version, but excellent footnotes also give significant variants from the first printing in Putnam's Magazine

Via Google Books, Melville's "Benito Cereno" as it originally appeared in Putnam's Monthly Magazine Volume 6:

  • October 1855
  • November 1855
  • December 1855

No comments:

Post a Comment