[ excerpt ]
Read a selection here
also by the author:
The Absolute Gravedigger
Valerie and Her
Week of Wonders
A Prague Flâneur
Farewell and a Handkerchief
|woman in the plural
Verse, Diary Entries, Poetry for the Stage,
by Vítězslav Nezval
translated from the Czech
by Stephan Delbos and Tereza Novická
collages & cover image by Karel Teige
In the summer of 1935, Vítězslav Nezval, already one of the most celebrated Czech poets of his generation, embarked on a period of manic
creativity that would result in three volumes of poetry written and published in a two-year span (1935-37), mirrored by three volumes of
memoir-like poetic prose. These collections would not only reshape Czech poetry, blending approaches developed by the French Surrealists
with national cultural sensibilities and political concerns, taken together they are among the highest achievements of the interwar
avant-garde. Woman in the Plural (1936), the first volume in this loose trilogy, adopted "objective chance" as its modus operandi
(whereas the third and final volume, The Absolute Gravedigger (1937), was guided by the paranoiac-critical method).
Appearing in English translation for the first time, Woman in the Plural
displays Nezval’s prodigious talents in a variety of forms, styles, and genres as he spins images of the female
form like a zoetrope to create novel and hallucinatory ways of conceiving woman’s mythical, divine, and creative power.
It is an eclectic collection that blends profound free verse, at times reading like a cascade of automatic writing,
with pages from Nezval’s dream journal, an exuberant set of Surrealist exercises, and a full-length play of chance
encounters with “a woman like any other,” all the while addressing the social and political uncertainties of the 1930s.
Led off by Karel Teige’s original collages from the first edition, Woman in the Plural is a vibrant and volatile
tour de force from one of the greatest European artists of the 20th century.
Woman in the Plural, translated now for the first time in English, is a key contribution to the development of European surrealism. Fans of surrealism enjoy its effects on readers’
imaginations by juxtaposing concrete words that don’t usually appear together ...
— Tom Bowden, Book Beat
You really get a sense of Nezval’s love for women, and it is beautiful. It does not deify women or idealise them. Women appear as the stuff of dreams and fantasy but a fantasy that
is edgy and highly experimental, even by today’s standards. These women come in ‘countless variations’, sometimes sweet but frequently antagonistic; they are feminists in a man’s world hastening in
modernity ‘like the cocking of a rifle’s hammer’.
— Lucille Turner, Bookmunch
I found this a fascinating collection of assorted pieces – prose, poetry, drama. The imagery is
thoroughly surrealistic so do not look for any rational meaning. There isn’t any nor is there intended to be any.
Indeed, that is what makes the collection so interesting.
— The Modern Novel
This whole section ["Pages from a Diary"] is a snapshot of the european avant garde
when everything was up for grabs, it was all to play for. They were writing to each other across the
continent, hooking up, buying each other’s publications. In this section, the night-time dreams
overlap with the accounts of daytime.
— Steve Hanson, Manchester Review of Books
One of the most beautiful of Nezval's collections and one of the most interesting books in the entire corpus of modern Czech poetry.
— Vilém Závada, Gazette for Art and Critique (1936)
198 pp.,135 x 190 mm
hardcover with ribbon bookmark
2 B/W collages
literature : surrealism
UK: February 2021
US: April 2021
airmail postage & handling incl.
or order from: