Bookmarks in the Pages of Life, by Zora Neale Hurston, Limited Editions Club, 2000

Bookmarks in the Pages of Life contains six stories from Zora Hurston, taking place from the time of slavery to 1930’s and 1940’s Harlem and small-town Florida and range from courtroom drama to misadventure and comedy.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960) was an American author considered one of the pre-eminent writers of twentieth-century African-American literature. She is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Much of Hurton’s work was popular and critically acclaimed when written, though her work became somewhat lost/forgotten in later years as her work did not fit the overtly political approach that other leading African-American writers preferred. What views she did have would not have endeared her to the emerging establishment. Making her a women of my own heart, and an accurate predictor of the future cultural and economic impact of American social policy on the poor, Hurston argued that New Deal economic support created a harmful dependency by African Americans on the government, and that this dependency ceded too much power to politicians.  Amen, I say! She died more or less broke and forgotten, and was buried in an unmarked grave. Through the efforts of Alice Walker and others, her reputation is again on the upswing, and her work is well worth exploring.

Betye Sarr (b.1926) is an American artist, well known for her work in the field of assemblage. She has had numerous exhibitions across the U.S. over the past 30+ years, and has earned a number of prestigious awards. While I am not normally a fan of assemblage, I found the illustrations in Bookmarks in the Pages of Life very nice, apropos and touching.  She also did an excellent job in selecting the paper to be used in this Limited Editions Club (LEC) edition.

I found LEC’s choice of publishing this work an inspired choice. While not a mainstream classic  that many (including myself) prefer to see given the fine press treatment, this work combines a pre-eminant African-American free-thinking author, who deserves to be read, with a pre-eminant African-American artist, providing both to an audience that may otherwise not be familiar with their works. The quality of the edition is right at the very top end of what LEC published. The binding and paper is not only unique, but is just simply spectacular. All in all, a highly desirable edition, well worth collecting and appreciating.

{Ed. Note:  My understanding is that Limited Editions Club does have a few copies of Bookmarks in the Pages of Life still available to order. You can call Jeanne Shiff at 212-737-7600 or 800-701-8870 to inquire about price and to order, if interested.}

About the Edition

  • Typography was designed, composed and printed by Dan Carr & Julia Ferrari at Golgonooza Letter Foundry and Press, Ashuelot, New Hampshire in Jannon-Garamond types
  • Six serigraphs and an afterword by Betye Sarr, who signs the edition
  • Serigraphs printed by Drexel Press
  • Saar chose the paper, handmade of cotton and cinnamon by Langdell Paper in East Topsham, Vermont, and the deep brown ink for the  text
  • Saar also designed the binding of bark and brown leather
  • Solander box lined and covered in brown linen
  • 11 1/2″ x 15 1/2″
  • Limited to 300 copies

Pictures

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Bookmarks in the Pages of Life, LEC, Book in Solander Box with Monthly Letter
Bookmarks in the Pages of Life, LEC, Just look at that paper!
Bookmarks in the Pages of Life, LEC, Title Page
Bookmarks in the Pages of Life, LEC, Sample Text and Illustration #1
Bookmarks in the Pages of Life, LEC, Sample Text and Illustration #2
Bookmarks in the Pages of Life, LEC, Afterword
Bookmarks in the Pages of Life, LEC, Colophon

5 thoughts on “Bookmarks in the Pages of Life, by Zora Neale Hurston, Limited Editions Club, 2000

  1. Because of their price (over my budget), I rely on your pictures to examine the design and materials used on these magnificent books. We all know what a Monthly letter looks like so why place it over the book which is what most want to see.

    Personally, what I want to see is the spine and front treatment of the solander box and the same on the book. I am always interested in the titling and treatment of the author’s name on both solander and book .I could care less about a photo of The Monthly Letter, especially when it is laid over a beautiful book.

    Like others, I am not intrigued by Shiff’s choice of titles, and he may have went too far in using the literature of minorities, but rhere is no question about his producing some beautiful books, and even exceeding the publications George Macy did in his lifetime. .

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