(Government: Justice and Injustic)

The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

Masereel, Frans (illus.)

Munich: Drei Masken, 1923. Octavo. 65pp. One of 340 copies, signed by Masereel below the colophon. Masereel's woodcuts, scattered throughout the poem in varying sizes, including seven full-page entries, wield his characteristically crude style to emotionally portray the undue hardship endured by Wilde and his fellow prisoners at Reading. Wilde drew particular inspiration from his own experience, having been incarcerated for "gross indecency," a homophobic label ascribed to romance and sex between men. Wilde was also moved by the imprisonment and execution of Charles Thomas Wooldridge, who had been convicted of killing his common-law wife. Throughout his verses, which he wrote while in exile in France, Wilde dwells on the unjust treatment of prisoners, on their denigration and dehumanization, and on their individualism in the face of impossible indignity. Masereel's artwork, stemming from his previous work on the devolution of humankind when oppressed by systemic forces of capitalism and war, adds apt and striking visuals. Bound in half brown morocco with blind tooling on covers and spine. Boards covered in paste paper. Gilt spine title. A crisp interior, albeit with general rubbing to extremities. A near fine example of a turn-of-the-century call for prisoners' rights. Item #30706

Price: $1,850.00

By This Author: