Additional Book Information
Series: New York Review Books
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
by Saul Steinberg, introduction by Nicholson Baker, afterword by Harold Rosenberg
Saul Steinberg’s The Labyrinth, first published in 1960 and long out of print, is more than a simple catalog or collection of drawings— these carefully arranged pages record a brilliant, constantly evolving imagination confronting modern life. Here is Steinberg, as he put it at the time, discovering and inventing a great variety of events: "Illusion, talks, music, women, cats, dogs, birds, the cube, the crocodile, the museum, Moscow and Samarkand (winter, 1956), other Eastern countries, America, motels, baseball, horse racing, bullfights, art, frozen music, words, geometry, heroes, harpies, etc.” This edition, featuring a new introduction by Nicholson Baker, an afterword by Harold Rosenberg, and new notes on the artwork, will allow readers to discover this unique and wondrous book all over again.
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Aggregating Steinberg’s published works and private sketches, The Labyrinth represents not just his creative output but also a diary of sorts. A significant portion consists of drawings of people and landmarks he saw during his 1956 trip to Russia on assignment for The New Yorker, and there are selections from his mural The Americans from the American Pavilion at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels…Scenes of everyday life and abstract cartoons form a panoply of views of society as Steinberg saw it during this time period. No one had an eye like he did on the world around him.
—Dan Schindel, Hyperallergic
The book opens with an extended, tour-de-force version of a Steinberg classic, the Line, seven pages unified by a single horizontal line that functions in myriad ways, as a timeline of history, a horizon line, the line dividing water from land, the edge of a table, the top of a bridge, a topographical mark and a clothesline. From there, the book unfolds as a set of interlocking mini-essays on Steinberg’s favorite and recurring subjects: music and musicians, architecture, the chatter of socialites, the vanity of power and ambition, and the iconography of mid-century America… a critical book in Steinberg’s oeuvre, a turning point for the artist.
—Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post
One of the towering creative forces of the 20th Century.
—Françoise Mouly, art editor, The New Yorker
For the six decades, [Steinberg’s] amazing work levitated this magazine; here was a major twentieth-century artist who also possessed an unmatched gift for the magazine page especially The New Yorker’s.
—Ian Frazier, The New Yorker
Is there any subject—or object, for that matter—that Saul Steinberg didn’t have at with his swordlike pen? Cartoonist-artist extraordinaire, he was a veritable Leonardo of graphic drollery.
—Grace Glueck, The New York Times
Steinberg certainly produced his share of classics, and in the process he helped pave the way for a culture of boundary-blurrers.... He showed that literature can be created without using a single sentence.
—Deborah Solomon, The New York Times Book Review