Arion Lyre

61. The Voices of Marrakesh by Elias Canetti.

The Voices of Marrakesh by Elias Canetti, with an afterword by Ferdinand Protzman, six etchings by William T. Wiley, and 29 photographs by Karl Bissinger, 2001.


The only work of travel writing by Elias Canetti, The Voices of Marrakesh was first published in German in 1968. It is a record of a visit to Morocco by the author best known for his sociological work, Crowds and Power, an ambitious study of the roots of Fascism, and Auto-da-Fé, a novel set in Vienna on the eve of World War II. Canetti won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981. He was born in 1905, in Bulgaria, lived in Zurich and Vienna as a young man, settled in England in 1938, and died in 1994. The Voices of Marrakesh became a classic of literary travel writing and redefined the genre. Canetti provides no historical overview of the city or the country. His description of places and things is vivid, yet economical to the point of minimalism. The events Canetti describes could have taken place 100 years ago or yesterday or tomorrow.


William T. Wiley was born in Bedford, Indiana, in 1937. He received BFA and MFA degrees from the San Francisco Art Institute, where he taught from 1962 to 1973. He is the recipient of honors and awards from the Whitney Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and other institutions. Wiley shows with the Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco and the Marsha Mateyka Gallery in Washington, D. C. His paintings, sculpture, drawings, and prints are in such collections as the Seattle Art Museum; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Wiley is being honored with a retrospective of his works, "What's It All Mean: William T. Wiley in Retrospect", at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (October 1, 2009 - January 24, 2010).

Wiley began by making some small watercolors of incidents in The Voices of Marrakesh, then a large preliminary drawing for an etching. He added an underlying map of the walled city of Marrakesh, which is printed in an earthy red, while the drawn images are printed in black. For the book, the etching is partitioned into six pieces, each segment illustrating a story told by Canetti. Wiley made other unique works in connection with this project, including two works on canvas. These works, as well as the etching entitled "Canetti in Marrakesh" are available through the Arion Press.


Karl Bissinger took the photographs that appear in The Voices of Marrakesh while on assignment for Flair magazine in 1949, for a travel piece on Morocco that was published in 1950 and recently collected in The Best of Flair, an anthology edited by Fleur Cowles, published as a sumptuous boxed book by Harper Collins Publishers. Bissinger was born in 1914. He became the staff photographer for Flair in 1949, the year of his Morrocan trip. He resides in New York City.

Of the pictures taken by Bissinger in Marrakesh and vicinity a selection of 29 photographs was made for this book, 28 in black and white, appearing on every fourth page in the text, and one, as the frontispiece, in color. The sequence follows the course of the photographer's journey and coincidentally intersects with places mentioned in Canetti's account. For the reader, the photographs give visual information about the ancient walled city to supplement the impressions and descriptions of Canetti.


Format: large octavo, 11 by 8 inches, 124 pages, plus 12 unnumbered pages for the colored leaves to which the etchings are attached. The type is Goudy Old Style, printed by letterpress. The photographs appear on verso pages, the etchings on recto pages. The etchings are 9.25 by 6.25 inches. The paper for the text is Mohawk Superfine. The paper for the etchings is Rives Lightweight. The paper for the mounting of the etchings is Fabriano Ingres. The photographs were printed in duo-tone and four-color offset lithography. The edition is limited to 350 numbered copies for sale, signed by the artist and photographer. For 300 copies of the edition, the book is bound with a brown cloth spine and red paper over boards. These copies are presented in an envelope made of the cover paper, with a fragment of the etching attached. For 50 copies of the edition for sale, those accompanied by the print, the book is bound as above, but with a brown leather spine, and presented in a slipcase of cloth and paper, with the fragment of the etching attached.

The etching by William T. Wiley, "Canetti in Marrakesh", is printed in two colors, black and red, on Rives Heavyweight paper. The size of the plate is 29.5 by 20.75 inches; the size of the paper is 38 by 27 inches. The intaglio plates were prepared and proofed by Timothy Berry of Teaberry Press in San Francisco and printed by Robert Townsend of R. E. Townsend Studio in Georgetown, Massachusetts. The edition is limited to 50 prints for sale, numbered and signed by the artist, each with a copy of the book, plus five artist's proofs and five publisher's proofs.

The book edition of 300 copies is priced at $650 per copy. Out of print.*

The book and print edition of 50 copies is priced at $750 for the book and $1,250 for the print (only sold together), for a total price of $2,000. Available.

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Edition available: The book is large octavo in format, 11 by 8 inches, 124 pages, plus 12 unnumbered pages to which the etchings are attached. The deluxe book is bound with a brown leather spine, red paper over boards, in slipcase. The deluxe book and large-format etching are limited to an edition of 50 copies. Price for deluxe book and print set: $2,000.

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