Artifex: Leonard Baskin and the Gehenna Press


The early years of Gehenna Press

Baskin & Hughes

An Architect of the Page

“Of the making of books…”




Honoring James Baldwin

The Oresteia



“Of the making of books…” : Flaubert

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Gehenna Press published Flaubert’s letter of June 19, 1852, along with Baskin’s wood engraving, a portrait of the famous French Realist, covered in wrinkles and mustaches. Flaubert’s satiric letter was addressed to the photographer Maxime Du Camp, a friend who had been trying to lure him to Paris and fame. Flaubert firmly stated his preference to remain in Croisset (in Normandy): “You tell me it is only in Paris that one breathes the breath of life. In my opinion your Parisian ‘breath of life’ often has the odor of rotting teeth.” This text was printed as a keepsake, to be given to “friends and patrons of the press.”

Gustave Flaubert. A Letter from Gustave Flaubert. Translated by Frances Steegmuller. The Gehenna Press, 1960. Wood engraving by Leonard Baskin.