Boustrophédon au miroir (Mirror Boustrophedon) RIBEMONT-DESSAIGNES, GEORGES / ILIAZD
Boustrophédon au miroir (Mirror Boustrophedon)

8vo, loose as issued in Arches wove paper wrappers, covered with the original vellum wrappers with an etching on the front. With original cloth-covered boards and slipcase. Illustrated with 10 full-page etchings by Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes. 29.5 x 19 cm. Edition of 55 numbered copies on vieux Japon, all signed by Iliazd and Ribemont-Dessaignes. Printed by Imprimerie Union for the text and Lacourière Frélaut for the etchings.Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes was a poet, writer, playwright and painter. Active among the Dadaists and Surrealists, he was Iliazd’s longtime friend. Iliazd’s poem in this collaboration evokes their past and ends with the lines: “Pirosmani/ mon peintre/ mes montagnes/ mes forêts/ mon audace évanouis” (“Pirosmani/ my painter/ my mountains/ my forests/ my faded audacity”). This collaboration is known for its innovative use of typography. “Boustrophedon” references a type of primitive bi-directional text seen mostly in ancient inscriptions on stone. Every other line is reversed in direction, with mirror-reversed letters. These types of complicated palindromes fascinated Iliazd, and crop up in many of his books. In Boustrophédon, each line is reversed in direction, but the letters themselves are not reversed (as they would be in a mirror). Iliazd used “freestyle spacing,” which obliged the reader to slow down and contemplate each word. The title Boustrophédon au miroir is meant to evoke a feeling of traveling backwards while seeing oneself retreating, a sensation of vertigo—the sort one might experience when going back through one’s memories. This copy is one of 55 numbered copies on vieux Japon.

OCLC locates five copies at NYPL, Yale, University of Chicago, the Newberry Library, and Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. References: Centre Georges Pompidou, Iliazd, p. 87, 116–117. MoMA, Iliazd and the Illustrated Book, 27–28, plate 34.