I routinely search “Luigi Serafini” on sites like Abebooks and Addall, just to make sure I don’t miss out on any uncharacteristically good Serafini deals (like the French website that was selling 1993 FMR editions of the Codex for $140 about a year ago). Last night, in the middle of the search results was a book I hadn’t heard of before: Storie Naturali by Jules Renard, illustrated by Serafini. I still haven’t learned Italian, so I’m at the mercy of Google’s translation service, but from what I gather, it is an illustrated edition of Jules Renard’s Histoires Naturelles (Storie Naturali in Italian). I’m not familiar with Renard, although the full (French) text of his work is available through his Wikipedia page. I’ve only read the first few pages, but it immediately presents itself as something you’d imagine Serafini sinking his teeth into – personified animals, animalized humans, a world that is both familiar and at the same time very strange and unexpected.
Doing some research about the edition, here is what I have so far: it is published by BUR, a division of Rizzoli that is releasing special editions of books it has published in the past as part of it’s anniversary (70th? not really sure…). Also in the series is a fancy edition of de Sade’s Justine, and in another one of those awesome convergences of my book collecting interests, George Perec’s Oulipo masterpiece, Life a User’s Manual. (The Perec is especially impressive, with each chapter bound separately in a puzzle-piece shape that is held together in a giant frame.)
I’m still not sure about the specifics of the Serafini book, however: I have seen some pictures of it bound in brown leather and others bound in gray cloth; sometimes it is shown boxed, and other times the book is on its own. What I do know is that it has numerous Serafini illustrations – enough that this constitutes a major work in Serafini’s canon and stands as more than one of his occasional illustration jobs, such as Etimologiario. Even better, many of the individual works (mostly leaves) are inserted into pockets from which they can be removed, meaning I can finally frame some Serafini artwork and put it up on my walls. The book is limited to 600 copies, and from what I found, it is signed by Serafini, which makes it a must-have.
I ordered my copy this morning and will be sure to post numerous pictures once it arrives. For now, here are two very cool links: the first is a picture of the book from the publisher’s website, and the second is a video (in Italian) of an interview with Serafini about the book. Even if you don’t understand the language, this video is essential for Serafini fans, as it shows him in his element, inside his giant house/studio, which he has molded into a Serafinian space all his own.