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Una Selva Oscura: Tom Phillips's Inferno



Washington University's Department of Special Collections presents "Una
Selva Oscura: Tom Phillips's Inferno."  This exhibition will be on view
from 3 November 1997 through 5 January 1998 in Olin Library.  This
exhibition is part of Washington University's conference "The Dual Muse:
The Writer as Artist, The Artist as Writer," 7-9 November, 1997.

In the late 1970s, Tom Phillips began a project to both illustrate and
translate Dante's _Inferno_.  If translation is always a doubled process,
shifting and transforming the language into which a work is translated,
Phillips's doubled transit would be of a far greater complexity.  It was
to be, truly, a dual translation, from Dante's Italian into contemporary
English, but also from one language of the page, the chiefly verbal, into
another, the verbal-visual combined glyph of the illustrated book.

"Una Selva Oscura" will show the process of the Phillips _Inferno_, from
the surviving proofs of the first, fire-destroyed version, through the
notebooks and manuscripts in which Phillips works out not only text and
illustrations but also the physical structure and arrangement of the book
itself, to the final edition, produced at Phillips's own Talfourd Press.

Drawing on the magnificent resources of the Ruth and Marvin Sackner
Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, the exhibition concludes with a
single page, the spectral, shroudlike image of ink on the carbon-paper
backing Phillips used in typing out his translation.  Though no word is
clear or legible, the whole of it faintly suggestive of a face, like
Veronica's napkin or the ghost images revealed in x-rays, this page, a
summation, bears the impression of every word of Dante's text, as the word
itself, repeating and echoing, becomes an image, an icon.

Special Collections has produced a 26-page, full-color exhibition catalog
for this exhibit, available for $10.00.  To order a catalog, or for more
information, contact:
        Special Collections -- email:  spec@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
                               phone:  314-935-5495
                               fax:    314-935-4045


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