Ça suit son cours

Year: 1975

Author: Edmond Jabès (1912 - 1991)

Artist: Antoni Tàpies 1923

Publisher: Fata Morgana

Ça suit son cours, cover

Ça suit son cours is an unusual collection of poetry, and a striking artist's book. It is unusual because it contains not onlyprevious work by poet Edmond Jabès, a naturalized French citizen, but also quotations and contributions from other authors like Maurice Blanchot, Michel Leiris and philosopher Jacques Derrida. This also makes Ça suit son cours into a literary dialogue interspersed with notes, fragments of letters and personal reflections. The illustrations by Tàpies continue where the conversation ends with signs and symbols: crosses, fingerprints, numbers and strikethroughs. Tàpies incorporated text by Jabès into his cover design.

Si ma liberté n'était pas dans le livre,

où serait-elle?

Si mon livre n'était pas ma liberté,

que serait-il?

[If my freedom were not in the book, where would it be? If my book were not my freedom, what would it be?]


Jabès was born in Cairo (Egypt), but 'inherited' his Italian nationality from his Jewish parents. He grew up in an Arab nation, on the edge of the desert, but still surrounded by French culture. His schooling, for instance, took place at a typical French Lycée. His 'split' heritage,and his older sister's death in 1924, influenced his eventual development into a writer. Besides themes like Jewish identity,otherness and death, other issues like the status of language and reading and writing itself form regular motifs in his work.

Rags, minerals

Jabès asked Spanish artist Antoni Tàpies (1923) to illustrate his book personally. Jabès' poetry held a fascination for Tàpies, and he considered the request a rare challenge. The versatile artist Tàpies experimented with rags, minerals in paint, cardboard, paper and unusual techniques. During the difficult war years, he developed into the first renowned artist of the Spanish avant-garde generation after Picasso, Gris and Miró.


The cover Tàpies produced for Ça suit son cours is very striking: words have been printed in deep relief on the thick paper. For this design, Tàpies made use of the text featured on page eleven. He cut up that text's printing plate, and then printed the words scattered around randomly in a typeface twice as large. This 'collagraph technique' creates a web in which new word combinations, and therefore—in a certain sense—a new text emerges.

The cover also features brown, vague letters that combine to form the seemingly hand-painted title. On the spine of the cover, a cross is visible that can also be read as a T (Tàpies' initial). Tàpies also produced four etchings for this edition. These etchings also make striking use of embossed printing. The technique is different from the one that was used for the cover. For these etchings, Tàpies had the plate corroded and the paper dampened; this allowed the plate to be pressed deep into the paper without ripping it. The resulting texture is typical for Tàpies, who thereby materialises the text, illustrations and thoughts by giving them a three-dimensional aspect.

Bibliographical description

Description: Ça suit son cours / Edmond Jabès ; ill. de Antoni Tàpies. – [Montpellier] : Fata Morgana, 1975.- [123] p. : ill. ; 28 cm

Printer: Imprimerie de la Charité (Montpellier) (text), Morsang (Paris) (etchings)

Edition: 102 copies

This copy: Number 70 of 102 on Arches

Typeface: Bodoni

Note: Signed by the artist and the author

Bibliography: Bénézit 13-465 ; Monod 6292

Shelfmark: KW Koopm A 638


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