London: Petersburg Press, 1976. Artist's book, first English edition, signed, limited edition, one of 250 copies, each with 33 original etchings by Jasper Johns (26 lift-ground aquatints, most with etching, soft-ground etching, drypoint, screenprint, and/or photogravure), 5 etchings (some with soft-ground etching and/or drypoint) 1 soft-ground etching, and 1 aquatint, 31 in black, 2 (endpapers) in color, and 1 lithograph (box lining) in color. Signed by Jasper Johns and Samuel Beckett on the colophon, all on hand-made paper by Richard de Bas, watermarked with the initials of Samuel Beckett and the signature of Jasper Johns. Page size: 12-15/16 x 9-13/16 inches; 62 unnumbered folios (including endpapers and excluding binding support leaves). Bound by Rudolf Rieser in Cologne, as issued, in paper wrappers accordion fold around support leaves, with colored etchings as endpapers, housed in tan cloth clamshell box with Johns' colored etchings in green, purple and orange laid down in the inside trays with distinctive purple silk pull visible when box closed.
Set in 16pt. Caslon Old Face and hand printed by Fequet and Baudier in Paris, there are five texts by Samuel Beckett. They were first published in 1972 in French. In 1974 Beckett translated them into English for this edition and gave them to Johns. Johns arranged the stories' sequence and made the decision to include them in the original French and their English translation. Johns created the etchings and proofed and printed them by hand at Atelier Crommelynck in 1975 and 1976. The result is this stunning book which is a cornerstone of any modern livre de peintre collection. Beckett's texts, in English and French, provided Johns with "double" sets of names of objects (used in one of his paintings). They are shown as mirror images that have been translated. According to Riva Castleman in A CENTURY OF ARTIST'S BOOKS, page 214-215, they "combine the artist's interest in ready-made letters with the ambiguity of how they are used." This is a fine copy with only traces of offsetting from the numbers pages (1-5, with #3 especially noticeable) to the opposite blanks. Castleman, Riva. A CENTURY OF ARTIST'S BOOKS (1994), Hogben and Watson, FROM MANET TO HOCKNEY (1985), Stein, Donna. CONTEMPORARY ILLUSTRATED BOOKS: WORD AND IMAGE, 1967-1988, Item #11399