"Krazy Kat" - A Jazz Pantomine.
Music by John Alden Carpenter. Based on the "Krazy Kat" Newspaper Cartoons of George Herriman. Specially illustrated by Geo. Herriman. And Arranged for Painoforte by the composerNew York: G. Schirmer, Inc., 1922 Stock Code: 143348
First edition of this splendid celebration of the inimitable Krazy Kat, that "humbly poetic, gently clownlike, supremely innocent, and illimitably affectionate creature" (e.e. cummings). Though relatively well-represented institutionally, this fragile piece is exceedingly uncommon in commerce.
George Herriman's remarkable strip, much admired at the time by Joyce, Eliot, Stein and of course e.e. cummings, for whose Archy and Mehitabel Herriman provided illustrations, was recently voted 1 in the Comics Journal millennium survey "Top 100 Comics of the Century". Carpenter's "jazz pantomime" was probably notionally the highest-toned, and best received of the spin-offs generated by the strip. With costumes and scenery designed by Herriman, and choreography by Russian-born dancer Adolph Bolm, who also took the title rôle, the ballet played two sold out and critically acclaimed performances at The Town Hall, New York. One of the harshest critics of the show was probably Krazy's "most perceptive (and persistent) fan" (Tisserand, Krazy, p.296) cultural critic Gilbert Seldes, editor of influential modernist journal The Dial, who found the jazz accompaniment merely "sufficient", and thought that Bolm had "missed the exquisite grace of heart in that adorably ugly body".
Despite the faint praise on this occasion, Seldes was the most prominent promoter of the comic strip as art, and of Krazy its most perfect exemplar; "It happens that in America irony and fantasy are practised in the major arts by only one or two men, producing high-class trash; and Mr. Herriman, working in a despised medium, without an atom of pretentiousness, is day after day producing something essentially fine. It is the result of a naïve sensibility rather like that of the douanier Rousseau; it does not lack intelligence, because it is a thought-out, constructed piece of work. In the second order of the world's art it is simply first rate - and a delight" ("The Krazy Kat That Walks By Himself" in The 7 Lively Arts, p.231). A wonderfully evocative souvenir with artwork produced by Herriman specifically for this publication.
Folio. Wire-stitched in the original orange card pictorial wrappers.
Images to both wraps, pictorial title and 14 near full-page images by Herriman.
wrappers a little rubbed and lightly soiled, staples rusted, starting at the spine, title page similarly started, the centre bifolium loose from staples, small contemporary collector's ink-stamp occasionally to the text, but overall very good.
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