Tavistock Square, London: Printed and published by Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1925. Octavo. Original illustrated boards. 24pp. Illustrations by Eugene McCown. First edition, one of 420 copies hand-printed and published by the Woolfs at their home publishing firm in Tavistock Square, London. Owner's signature on front free endpaper, small contemporary bookseller's label to rear pastedown, covers lightly tanned, some scattered foxing; still a very good and extremely scarce title. From the collection of R. O. Blechman, an American animator, illustrator, children's-book author, graphic novelist and editorial cartoonist whose work has been the subject of retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art and other institutions.
Nancy Cunard (1896-1965), a wealthy young socialite and heir to the Cunard Line British shipping industry, traveled and mingled with the literary elite who included T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, Aldous Huxley, Tristan Tzara, Ezra Pound, Louis Aragon, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Langston Hughes, Man Ray, and William Carlos Williams, among other notables. In the 1920s Cunard was working at establishing herself as a poet. Parallax powerfully captured the pessimism of the modernist sensibility in the manner of the Modernist Long Poem, centering on the wanderings of a young male poet through London, Paris, and Italy as he contemplates love, friendship, and art.
Cunard's work received harsh critical reception, an indication of some of the struggles faced by women poets in establishing themselves in the male-dominated high Modernist literary sphere. Her style was panned as romantic and old-fashioned by the arch-Modernist Ezra Pound (whom she later published at her Hours Press). Meanwhile, T. S. Eliot mocked her poetic aspirations; for her part, Cunard admired Eliot’s work, and Parallax is indebted to The Waste Land. Parallax was not quite without its admirers altogether. A young Samuel Beckett, whose early work Cunard published, was a fan, and wrote to her enthusiastically about it. William Carlos Williams thought Cunard "one of the major phenomena of history," and the influential journalist Janet Flanner thought Parallax "superior" to The Waste Land.
. Item #400