Histoire du Soldat

NP: Gonfalon Press, 1997. First edition. A fine copy in all respects of this scarce volume. From the limited edtion of 110 copies, this one being number 95. Signed by Vonnegut and the book's creater and illustrator, Michael Fallon. Four color woodblock plates. An interesting history here. The work was initially conceived by Igor Stravinsky during the dark days of World War I. Because the war was so broad and all consuming Stravinsky found that he couldn't compose music for large ensembles and expect them to be performed because the war effort drained so many rescources. He decided to create an intimate work for small ensemble, spoken word, and dance. C.F. Ramuz wrote the original libretto, telling the story of a soldier returning from war who meets the devil along the way. The devil convinces the soldier to place a wager revolving around the playing of the soldier's violin. The work ends with the devil winning the wager by, no surprise here, cheating. Vonnegut doesn't comment much on the music but he seemed incensed by the libretto and wrote this work as his response. He deems Ramuz a hack and the libretto a weak trifle. Vonnegut's story involves Private Eddie Slovik, (un-named in this treatment) the only US solider executed by firing squad during the World War II. The text is much harsher than the original treatment and much less forgiving.

Price: $600.00

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