VOYSEY, Charles Francis Annesley



London: Chapman and Hall. 1915.

First edition. Presentation copy. 8vo. 190x125mm. pp. [2], 142. Original green cloth lettered in black to the upper cover and spine in a typeface designed by Voysey. Inscribed by Voysey on the front free endpaper: "Presented to the Arts Club with fear and trembling by the author April 13th 1915". The front pastedown has the Arts Club's bookplate, designed by Voysey.Slight wear to corners and foot and head of spine and some minor marking to lower cover. Light splash mark to the blank page 60 but otherwise a very good copy of a rare and important book with a nice link to the Arts Club of which Voysey was an enthusiastic member. Library Hub locates eight copies in the UK with Worldcat adding a further nine worldwide. And scarce commercially, with only two copies appearing in the auction records.
This is Voysey's only book (the 1906 Reason as a Basis of Art is really a short pamphlet) and represents the most significant statement of his beliefs, both social and aesthetic, although the two are linked and interdependent. In many ways, the book can be seen as a wartime rage against the growing tentacles of the state: "Collectivism, convention, and fashion, all derive their power through the suppression of the individual. Men's minds and bodies are forced into grooves and moulded into machine-like order; being banded together like soldiers for a common purpose". Later he explains the limits of collectivism: "We can help and encourage each other to an enormous extent, but we cannot do each other's thinking". Individuality is about the power of independent thought. And this will have aesthetic benefits: "Could we but revive the individualistic spirit and stimulate moral sentiment...we should once more have a noble national architecture". For the practical application of these ideas and ambitions we need only look to the brilliant, idiosyncratic inventiveness of Voysey's designs.

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