November 14, 2007

Yitzhak Orpaz, The Death of Lysanda, and Cape Editions

Once again: Brad, the editor of the great Neglected Books site [], posted an annotated list of 20 out-of-print books I made in June of 2000. He added links to all the book titles. I'm going to post images of the books discussed (if I still have them).

The permanent link for the list.

In the (late?) 60s, the British publisher Jonathan Cape Ltd/Grossman Publishers started an ambitious series of world literature called simply Cape Editions. See the scan below which lists the series up until their 41st title in 1970 (the Orpaz book is their 42nd). I don't know how long they were able to keep it up. I'll do some research on this publisher and especially their titles which have fallen out of print. ***

What a list. Just their French lit in translation causes my jaw to drop: Michel Leiris (Manhood), Roland Barthes, Baudelaire, Alfred Jarry (The Supermale), Francis Ponge (his wild Soap book), Breton, Butor. And then translations from Hrabal, Lichtenberg, Trakl. Incredible. I can't wait to find out who exactly was responsible for this series.

The back cover includes their credo:

***UPDATE, 11/15/07: It seems like Nathaniel Tarn was responsible for these books.
From the Stanford library site for his papers: "After publishing his first volume of poetry Old Savage/Young City in 1964 and a celebrated translation of Pablo Neruda's The Heights of Macchu Picchu in 1966, Tarn decided to concentrate his energies on literature. He served as the General Editor of Cape Editions and the Founding Editor of Cape-Goliard Press in London from 1967 until 1969, then returned to the United States in 1970. Two years later he assumed a professorship in comparative literature at Rutgers, which he held until his retirement in 1985. Today he lives outside Santa Fe, New Mexico."
I recognize Tarn's name from working at the Penn Book Center in the mid to late 90s. The owners were friends with him and frequently stocked his books, which I would flip through. I wish I would have tried to meet him when he lived outside Philadelphia.


  1. I devoted a couple of paragraphs to the Cape Editions (as well as to Mushinsha Books) here:

  2. Thanks Chris. I'm glad to learn about your "Dreamers Arise" site. It's great.