Books Written By Dali.

Le mythe tragique de l'Angelus de Millet
(Dali/Pauvert, 1963)

Here is an original Dali publication that I had heard about, but never thought that I would lay hands upon in my lifetime.  I don't know how many of these were actually published, but in the U.S., this book is scarce.

I picked this copy up in a lot with a few other Dali books which came from a public library collection.  This book is in decent, almost unread, condition, but is marred by some ink stains on the bottom of the front cover.  Still, the ink stains help complement the authentic schoolbook look Dali was going for with the buckle closure and typed label on the cover.

Inside, one finds the original text (in French!) and layout, with tipped-in plates on just about every other page.  I can't read French, so look elsewhere on this blog for my commentary on the English translation of this book.

For me, the "wow factor" in this book is its rarity combined with the handful of dollars I paid for it.  My copy has a number of flaws, but I value it at about $125 to the average collector.  A book in better condition is likely worth about double that, and maybe much more to a French-speaking collector (to whom the book can be more thoroughly enjoyed).


Conquest of the Irrational
by Salvador Dali.

On July 20, 1935 in Paris, one thousand copies of this book were printed in English.  Seventy-six years later, this rare historical artifact finds its way into my hands.

What can one say about this original Dali manifesto, written in the dawn of his career? 

Since its publication, Conquest of the Irrational has been a popular source of quotes for those attempting to summarize Dali's artistic style and motivation.

The book is about 5"x6", has about 18 pages of text, followed by b&w illustrations on heavy card stock.  There are 35 reproductions including the back cover and a color plate (also on heavy card stock) opposite the title page.  I have included a list of the titles of the plates and a few examples of the plates.


This little book is extremely rare, so your hunt for this may be a long one.  The book is worth about $200-$300 for a copy in good condition.  Happy hunting!


Les Diners de Gala
(Draeger, 1973)

Although typically attributed to Dali, the book does not actually state that Dali "authored" the book.  None of the recipes or the text is attributed to Dali, and Dali is referred to in the third person throughout the book.  However, it is very clear that the illustrations for this book are mainly by Dali.  There are some illustrations not by Dali, and certainly the photos of the recipe dishes were not photographed by Dali.

Nevertheless, this book is a nice prize for any Dali collection.  It is a work of art from cover to cover. 

The reflective gold dust jacket grabs one's attention immediately.  Inside, one finds the book replete with illustrations both unique to this book and recycled from past Dali works.
Concerning the recycled Dali illustrations, the majority come from Les Chants de Maldoror (1934) and Gargantua and Pantagruel (1973).  I especially like the latter because they are bizarre, fantastical, and rarely seen elsewhere.

The works specifically created for this book are also quite bizarre and fantastical in their own right, but with the focus specifically on cooking and food.  Certainly a unique set of illustrations--very colorful, very strange.

I don't know what else to say about this book except that it is a psychedelic art and food adventure.  Flip through it an you might agree.

The book is fairly common, so one can almost always find one for sale online.  However, the book is in relatively high demand, so a nice copy complete with dust jacket can easily sell for $100-$150 and more.


Open Letter to Salvador Dali
by Salvador Dali
A Heineman Paperback, 1967

The complete obscurity of this little paperback book means that it is probably not on the radar of most Dali collectors. 

I think the reason for said obscurity is simple: someone rounded up all of the copies and recycled the paper to make something better.  Simply put, this book is a waste of paper and supergelatinous (and any number of Dalinian adjectives) space.

The book is a series of letters apparently penned by Dali to himself.  The danger with anything written by Dali is that you may wind up with a bunch of nonsense.  Clearly the person(s) who bankrolled this project had no editorial control and received such a dearth of useable material that what was printed is pure crap.

I am sure I recognized at least one essay originally printed in The Minotaur.  I think that was done in a few spots just to fill up space.

The bottom line on Dali's so-called letters to himself is that the topics are completely disconnected, and so objectively incomprehensible, that one just doesn't learn anything of substance about Dali from them. 

You can buy this book for fewer than $20.  However, total crap, don't bother.


Dali by Dali
by Salvador Dali; translated from the French by Eleanor R. Morse (1970).

This is a nice little book of Dali art and writing — though light on the writing and heavy on the art. Comes complete with attractive dust jacket, sturdy cover with textured cloth covering, illustrated end pages, thick heavyweight paper, and binding to last a lifetime. This book is well-made.

Features single or double-page reproductions, mostly in color, and mostly details of Dali paintings, rather than the entire works themselves. Though you won’t find anything new or unique to this book here, the detail reproductions are vivid and of the highest quality.
This book is worth the purchase, considering it is fairly inexpensive. You can find a good copy with dust jacket for about $10.

Occasionally somebody tries to sell this book for over $100, but unless it is autographed by Dali himself, then don’t fall for it. The book is fairly common and is worth far less.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You missed a book he wrote in 1948. 50 Secrets of Master Craftsmanship. There are 49 copies. I own #7