Translation and Publication History of Hebdomeros
[Note: I claim to provide a thorough account of all English translations of Hebdomeros, meaning that I have personally inspected all the English translations listed. I also provide an account of the French and Italian publication history based on information from secondary sources: namely, library catalogues, and Giorgio de Chirico’s autobiography, The Memoirs of Giorgio de Chirico. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1994. I am aware of translations into other languages (such as the 1977 Spanish translation by Josep Elías) but do not propose to account for these here.]
*1929 First serialized in Bifur, ed. Georges Ribemont Dessaignes, Paris.
*1929 First published in its entirety as Hebdomeros, le peintre et son génie _______chez l’ecrivain. Paris: Éditions du Carrefour.
*1938 Hebdomeros, proofs of the Italian edition by Edicioni della Cometa, _______Rome.
*1942 Published in Italian as Ebdòmero. Translated by Giorgio de Chirico. _______Milan: Bompianî.
*1942 A short selection translated by R.C. Knight in the short-lived _______British Surrealist journal Arson: an Ardent Review. Ed. Toni del _______Renzio. London, March 1942, pp. 29- 31.
*1944 Serialized in New York surrealist magazine View. Ed. Charles Henri Ford. Translated by Paul Bowles. Volume 4 Fall 1944, pp. 80-82 and Volume 4 December 1944, pp. 124; 144-146. [Note: While View initially announced three installments of Hebdomeros, and while the second installment in December 1944 ends with “To be continued” nothing ever came of the third installment. The next issue of View was dedicated to Marcel Duchamp. A later publication of a book of Paul Bowles’ translations reprints his translation of Hebdomeros from these two issues of View, adding nothing more–which leads us to believe this was all that was ever translated. See: Bowles, Paul. She Woke Me Up So I Killed Her. San Francisco: Cadmus Editions, 1985. 13-27.]
*1964 Short selections translated by Mitchell Lifton in Stolen Paper Review, _______ed. Jeff Berner, Vol. 2. Winter 1963-64, San Francisco, pp. 5-11.
*1964 French edition republished in Paris by Flammarion, in “L’Age d’or” _______series.
*1965 A long section of Hebdomeros translated into English by John Ashbery, published in Art and Literature: an International Review, eds. John Ashbery, et al. Volume 4 Spring 1965. Lausanne: Société Anonyme d’Editions Littéraires et Artistiques (S.E.L.A.), pp. 9-36. [Note: Ashbery’s translation corresponds to the French 1964 Flammarion edition pages 98-168, and to the English 1992 Exact Change edition, pages 48-83.]
*1966 Published in English in its entirety for the first time by obscure New York publisher, Four Seasons Book Society. No indication of translator anywhere in the volume, but the volume does include an introduction by James A. Hodkinson. The only other information given in the book is that “The Four Seasons Book Society” is located at 550 Fifth Avenue, New York; that “Of five hundred numbered bound copies of Hebdomeros this is copy Number…”; and on the last page, that the book was “Printed by Beogradski grafički zavod, Beograd” or “Printed by the Belgrade Graphic Institute, Belgrade.”
In a book review published on December 18, 1966 in Book Week (Sunday supplement to the New York Herald Tribune, syndicated in the Washington Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle), John Ashbery favorably reviews this first complete English edition of Hebdomeros. He also expresses puzzlement with regard to the origins of the edition under review. Ashbery writes:
“Everything about Hebdomeros is mysterious. Chirico wrote it a decade after his genius as a painter had mysteriously evaporated. He wrote it in French, a language not his own… It remained unobtainable and all but unknown until 1964, when it was reissued in France. The present edition is something of a mystery itself: printed in Belgrade, it is published here by a firm with a New York address but no telephone. The excellent translations is anonymous. The introduction is by James A. Hodkinson, a name unknown to me and not to be found in the pages of the Cumulative Book Index and the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, though he is obviously no novice and his text is full of valuable insights and little known scholarly information.” From: Ashbery, John. “The Decline of the Verbs.” Book Week. December 18, 1966. p5. [Note: This passage, from “The present edition…” on, is excised from later republications of Ashbery’s review as the introduction to Hebdomeros in the 1988 PAJ edition and the 1992 Exact Change edition; see below.]
[Second Note: A periodical search incidentally turned up a 1966 advertisement for The Four Seasons Book Society in The New York Times. As far as I am aware, the ad ran only twice: once on March 20, 1966 and the second time on March 27, 1966, on pages 298 and 327, respectively. It reads: “International Avant-Garde Book Club, Four Seasons Book Society. 550 5th Ave, N.Y.C., offers Chirico’s ‘Hebdomeros,’ Apollinaire’s ‘Poet Assassinated,’ plus 3 more quarterly hardbacks [sic] translations. Pre-publication special: $15.95”. I have been unable to locate this edition of The Poet Assassinated. As an interesting aside, New York poet Ron Padgett published his translation of Apollinaire’s The Poet Assassinated just two years later, in 1968, with Hart-Davis publishers. Matthew Josephson, an editor of the Surrealist magazine Broom, made the first translation in 1923.]
*1968 Published in English in a new translation by Margaret Crosland. _______Introduction by Margaret Crosland. London: Peter Owen Publishers.
*1988 Margaret Crosland’s translation republished by PAJ Publications with _______an introduction by John Ashbery, “The Decline of the Verbs,” _______reprinted from his 1966 Book Week article.
*1992 Exact Change, a publisher out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, _______republishes the anonymous English translation of Hebdomeros from _______the 1966 Four Seasons Book Society edition, with John Ashbery’s “The _______Decline of the Verbs” as introduction.
To recap the English translation history of Hebdomeros, we have:
1942, R.C. Knight, Arson. London. (Selection, 3 pages.)
1944 Paul Bowles, View. New York. (Selection, 14 pages.)
1964 Mitchell Lifton, Stolen Paper Review, San Francisco. (Selections, 5 pages.)
1965 John Ashbery, Art and Literature. Paris and Lausanne. (Selection, 25 pages.)
1966 Anonymous translation, with an introduction by James A. Hodkinson. New York: Four Seasons Book Society.
1968 Margaret Crosland, translation and introduction. London: Peter Owen Publishers.
1988 Margaret Crosland, translator, with introduction by John Ashbery. New York: PAJ Publications.
1992 Anonymous translation from 1966 edition with introduction by John Ashbery reprinted from 1988 edition. Cambridge, MA: Exact Change.