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Release: Sept. 30, 1999

$100,000 UI Libraries donation allows FitzGerald & Co. literary acquisition

IOWA CITY-- A California-based organization has donated $100,000 to the University of Iowa Libraries making possible the purchase of a collection of works by Vincent FitzGerald, whose company produces contemporary illustrated fine press books by some of literature's greatest authors.

The Libraries' Special Collections Department has purchased 26 of 29 of FitzGerald's limited edition books with support from the Angora Ridge Foundation. The foundation, which is interested in artistic and literary collaborations, made the donation in recognition of the activities in the UI Center for the Book and the significance of the UI Libraries' fine press collections.

David Schoonover, curator of rare books at the UI Libraries, says the collection contains important authors and texts, and emphasizes a fusion of high quality visual art and significant literature. Schoonover also says the books are carefully planned and beautifully produced.

The New York-based FitzGerald & Company has attracted some of the country's most talented authors and artists such as playwright David Mamet, artist Susan Weil and photographer Judith Turner. Their works and others are included in the latest Special Collections Department acquisition.

David Mamet, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, wrote the play and film versions of "Glengarry Glen Ross," and "The Postman Always Rings Twice" among other works. He collaborated with New Yorker artist Ed Koren to create "The Frog Prince," a play adapted from a trilogy of children's plays by Mamet and illustrated with Koren's inimitable line etchings.

In preparing to illustrate another work, "The Epiphanies," Weil and printer Marjorie Van Dyke first produced 40 interpretative paintings based on James Joyce's dream-inspired writings. The two artists and FitzGerald realized the epiphanies into four rubrics: Death, Dreams, Games (primarily word games or puns) and Planes, and they designed the shape and size of the book based on Joyce's original manuscript pages.

"The Epiphanies" include 64 etchings, original watercolors, collage and handcutting. The book's pages, melded into accordion folds, are designed so that phrases are first read out of context and are brought into focus. The watercolor maquette for Weil's "Death" section is a blending of nine separate images transformed into a sequential statement that "evoked the sorrows and terrors of these five epiphanies about the death" of Joyce's brother. Included in the collection is the first English translation of Henrik Ibsen's poems, illustrated by Neil Welliver and translated by Michael Feingold, who also translated Franz Kafka's "Parables." This was made into a new work titled "Parables and Pieces," a collection of 15 poems with photography by Turner.

Schoonover says many of the works will be used as teaching tools in a variety of UI courses. He will feature the collection as a major element in a new course, "Fine Presses and Literary Publishing," to be offered in spring 2000.

For a complete list of the recently acquired books and additional information about the recently acquired books and additional information about the FitzGerald collection, contact Schoonover at (319) 335-5923.