Abeceda (Alphabet) by Zdenek Tmej, First Edition with Original Dust Jacket
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Abeceda Duseviho Prazdna (Alphabet of Spirtual Emptiness) by Zdenek Tmej
First Edition, First Printing, 1946
Includes Scarce Original Dust Jacket
This is an extremely scarce first edition, first printing of the critically acclaimed photobook, “Abeceda Duseviho Prazdna (Alphabet of Spirtual Emptiness)” published by Nak/adatelsvi Za’ Druha a.s., Prague, in 1946. “Abeceda” is a documentary record of forced German labor camps in Breslau during 1941-1943 that Vince Aletti in the photobook reference work, “The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century, calls “a Czech artist’s response to the physical and psychic devastation of World War ll.” He also writes, “The subject of his book is the walking wounded – men forced to work for the conquering army. The dark, impressionistic look of Tmej’s photographs is the result of working indoors with a concealed camera and only the dimmest of available light. The book itself, a small paperback made with pulpy newsprint stock, has an abject quality contradicted only by the gorgeously tactile gravure prints. Published a year after Germany’s collapse and their author’s release, Tmej’s photos retained their aura of furtiveness and despair at the same time as they were transformed into documents of resistance and survival.” An exceptional account of the book appears on the 5B4 website, "Unmarried Czech workers will be used as a group in the most remote parts of the Reich and will thereby be prevented from starting families in the territory of the protectorate." This was the decree under which, in the autumn of 1942, Zdenek Tmej was ordered to the town of
Measuring approximately 9.5” x 8.5” and containing 45 stunning gravure prints, the book is bound in cardboard type flexible paper wraps with a photographically illustrated dust jacket. The condition of the book is Near FINE+ with some very minor wear and soiling to the fragile covers and a few random marks to the page edges. The original dust jacket is in Very Good+ condition with some foxing to the rear and inside of the dust jacket. The edges of the dust jacket have been professionally restored. Overall, this is an exceptionally well preserved copy of an extremely scarce photobook that is notoriously fragile and almost impossible to find in this condition. I have included numerous photographs at the end of this listing of the dust jacket and book.
Cited in all three reference works on photobooks: “The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century” and “The Open Book” by Andrew Roth and Parr and Badgers, “The Photobook: A History”.
Several photographs of the dust jacket from various angles, the front and back paper cover wraps, as well as some examples of photographs contained in the book appear below. Please note that although the photographs appear digitized as thumbnails, they are viewable in the photo viewer by running your mouse over the thumbnail. You can also click on the thumbnail to open a separate window where the pictures are viewable by clicking your mouse on the thumbnail.
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