Friday, March 16, is your last chance to see “Shadows of the Sun: The Crosbys, the Black Sun Press & the Lost Generation,” on display in the Schatten Gallery at Emory University’s Woodruff Library.
The exhibition shines a light on modernism and the generation of writers, artists, jazz musicians and exiles in Paris after the First World War. The Black Sun Press, founded by Caresse and Harry Crosby in Paris in the 1920s, is emblematic of the avant-garde nature and adventurous spirit of the “Lost Generation” – expatriate American writers and artists – during that period.
The time period and the writers of the Lost Generation were interwoven with the life of a modern writer in last year’s movie “Midnight in Paris.”
Black Sun’s books were characterized by high-quality pages and printing, and many of the books belonged to the Crosbys, bearing personal inscriptions and beautiful bindings with the Crosby crest. Black Sun published the early works of many writers, including Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, Kay Boyle, James Joyce (whose Black Sun book Tales Told of Shem and Shaun was integrated later into Finnegans Wake), and Hart Crane.
Black Sun also published works deemed too controversial or experimental by other publishers, such as those by James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence. Many of these books were censored, banned, or would not have been published until the Crosbys championed them, says Kevin Young, curator of the exhibition as well as both the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library and literary collections at MARBL (Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library).
The exhibition materials are drawn from a nearly-complete collection in the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at MARBL and include books by small Paris publishers other than the Black Sun Press.
Among the significant items in the exhibition, some in editions as small as seven:
- Hemingway’s first book, “Three Stories & Ten Poems,” printed by Contact Publishing. “An incredibly rare and important book,” Young says.
- A 1926 edition of James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” published by Sylvia Beach, a leading expatriate figure of the time and a friend of the Crosbys. The book was banned in the U.S. until 1933; Young says this particular copy was torn into sections and stuffed into laundry bags, smuggled into the U.S. from Europe, then later reassembled and re-bound.
- A first edition of Hart Crane’s masterpiece “The Bridge” (once owned by Leonard Baskin); this Black Sun book contains the first published photographs by Walker Evans.
A small, accompanying exhibition called “Postcards from Paris,” about expatriate literary and artistic figures, includes photographs and information about Gertrude Stein, Hart Crane, Paul Robeson, D.H. Lawrence, e.e. cummings, Malcolm Cowley and Claude McKay, among others.
“Shadows of the Sun,” is free and open to the public during spring break library hours. The Schatten Gallery is on the third floor of the Woodruff Library, which is located at 540 Asbury Circle on the Emory campus in Atlanta, 30322. Parking is available in the Fishburne Deck.