Auction 42 - Rare and Important Items

A Collection of Letters by Meir Wieseltier / Lithographs by Nahoum Cohen for the Poem "Ecology" by Wieseltier

Opening: $2,000
Sold for: $2,500
Including buyer's premium
Lithographs by Nahoum Cohen for the long poem "Ecologia" [Ecology] by Meir Wieseltier and a collection of letters sent by Wieseltier to Nahoum Cohen in the years 1974-1976.
• Eight color lithographs by Nahoum Cohen, for the poem "Ecology" by Meir Wieseltier. The poem is copied by Cohen, in Hebrew with the English translation. The lithographs are numbered: 8/25 and signed by Nahoum Cohen.
The poem "Ecology" was written by Wieseltier in June 1973 and was dedicated to his friend, the painter and architect Nahoum Cohen. At the time Cohen was staying in London, where he was working on a series of paintings, inspired by this poem. Cohen then created eight lithographs from his paintings, in which he combined the lyrics of the poem, copied by him, in Hebrew and in the English translation made for the poem by Wieseltier himself, Curtis Arnson and Russel Carlsle.
The series of lithographs was published in London in March 1975, in a limited edition of 25 copies – each set packed in a cardboard folder with a paper on which the original text was printed (Hebrew and English), enclosed.
• Approx. 25 letters by Wieseltier addressed to Nahum Cohen (hand written and typed on a type-machine). The letters, reflecting open sincerity, humor and wittiness, reflect also the friendship of the two men. Some of the topics found in the letters: the common work of Wieseltier and Cohen on the lithographs-case "Ecology", literary and writing issues, life in Tel Aviv, intellectuals, artist and Israeli poets, health, and other such topics and ideas. Many of the letters are concerned with the work over the lithographs of "Ecology". Wieseltier expresses his opinion on Cohen's illustrations and their compatibility to the poem; he writes, telling of the difficulty in working on a translation through letters, sends remarks and suggested changes for the translation, and discusses different issues to do with the design and printing of the case.
Thus, Wieseltier write on the translation of the poem: "I received from your relative the letter + the lithograph (nice although a little graphic). I was beginning to wonder already why I wasn't receiving any answer after I have sent the translation. The translation drives me crazy. If only we could sit down together with Russ and Curtis, we could have formulated a reasonable translation within one evening. But letters are a very clumsy way of going about it, especially when there are 4 people in the picture, and only one of them knows exactly how a poem is made. I suggest that we use now Curtis' formulation as a starting point and insert to it some changes as you'll see in the following…"(11.1.1975).
Literary issues are frequently brought up in the letters, as well as Wieseltier’s thoughts of some intellectuals and poets in Tel Aviv. Thus, for example, Wieseltier write on Yona Wallach: “Pery has shown me some poems he got from Yona Wallach. Five or six long poems… Reading them was very hard. What can I say. I couldn’t believe Yona could deteriorate to such nullity. Long and continuous lines with no end of utter nullity. Boredom and total nonsense. Uninteresting, not even as a psychiatric document.”(20.2.1975)
There are also mentioning in the letters of people like Maxim Ghilan, Natan Zach, Gavriel Moked, Yosef Sharon, Menashe Kadishman, Michail Grobman and many others.
Wieseltier describes in his letters the routine life in Tel Aviv, and often he sends his friend, who resides in New York, short updates from the latest in the city. Some letters mention also the political situation in Israel. In a letter from November 1974 he writes: “Over here, the winter has started, and the weather does me good. On the other hand stands the terrible economic deterioration and routine feeling of distress of the Israeli day-to-day and human stupidity. This morning terrorists have entered a house in Bet She’an, and it is still unclear what exactly is going on there (right now the news are reporting that the security forces have succeeded in breaking in the building. The 4 terrorists are killed. 3 civilians are killed. And there are 8 wounded)”.
Wieseltier (born 1941) is one of the most prominent poets and translators working and living in Israel today. Winner of the Israel Prize for the year of 2000. Some of the judges’ remarks in their decision read: “Wieseltier’s poetry puts forth a critical approach to the world, the surrounding and the others around you, and it has a profound social-moral-political effect. The city of Tel Aviv is the space where he sets his poetry, and it lives within it as an object of intimate relationship and withdrawal all at once. Wieseltier is gifted with very acute senses, capturing our time and diagnosing its faults; his poetry is a judging one, dismantling norms, challenging accepted images and striving to a “truth” which crosses the limits of habitual speech and thought. But behind this teasing aggressive manner of speech, so typical of Wieseltier – we see also an emotional power, and a human, involved and committed presence, which sees itself responsible for human life. ‘Poetry is the kiss of the weather, the tongue, the truth’- as Wieseltier puts it in his poem ‘Poetry Is’ “.
•Enclosed: three illustrations (pen on paper), probably by Nahum Cohen; three excerpts from daily papers – featuring texts by Wieseltier (the poem “Additional Tel Aviv Sketches”, published in “Maariv”, on which Wieseltier has marked by pen all of the printing errors etc.); the poem “A Need for Signing”, typed on a type machine; translation for the poem “Ecology”(printed on a typed machine), together with comments and corrections made by hand.
Total of 8 lithographs (without a folder and without the paper on which the original text was printed, originally enclosed with the folder) 29X39 cm. Good condition, slight spotting and faults around the edges. Ca. 25 letters. Size and condition vary. Overall good condition (some have stains, others have folding marks or slight tears). Some of the letters are not intact.
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Rare and Important Items