1973. Hand-made paper wrappers. 39 cream, clay-coated A4 leaves (23 x 32 cm.) and one sheet (25.3 x 20.3 cm.) comprising the text; 14 (twelve 20.3 x 25.3 cm. and two 20.3 x 19.8 cm.) loose sheets containing splendid pen and ink (black) drawings used as illustrations; one sheet with Berlin's notes in blue ink as to placement of the illustrations (17.3 x 10 cm.); and one sheet (20.3 x 30.4 cm.) with chapter notes, directions to the typist, table of contents, etc., written in red, blue, green and black ink. An intriguing manuscript written in Berlin's strong hand with his large, bold illustrations, rich in imagery and metaphor; an important and interesting artifact of this fascinating and colorful novelist/artist. A unique, VG+ item. Item #30410
Sven Berlin was a poet, a painter, a sculptor, a dancer and a writer. His 1962 roman-a-clef novel The Dark Monarch, a work written with the prime motive of venting Berlin's personal anger over the hypocrisies of an over-close and competitive art St. Ives art colony, was not well received by his fellow art colony members, who all too easily recognized themselves within the pages of the text. The book was withdrawn after four successful libel actions.
Contrary to what some writers report, Berlin did not abandon the genre of fiction following the unpleasantness that The Dark Monarch brought. In 1964 he published his novel Jonah's Dream: A Meditation on Fishing, a volume full of Berlin's accomplished and sensitive vignettes of fish and fishermen, and in 1971, his knowledge of the gypsy counter-culture emerged in his novel Dromengo: Man of the Road. It would be a full seven years before Amergin appeared. The story is a mystical fable of encounters between a man, a woman, and a stag in “The Great Forest in the South.”
Berlin writes of himself:
I have always had to contend with the problems of painting, sculpture, and writing as three aspects of one personal express in an attempt to reach full realization and understanding of the world in which I find myself, which is the purpose of my life - and to investigate material experience with spirit by imagination. Beauty of form with poetic insight is the unattainable target.
Chris Stevens of the Guardian wrote on January 4, 2000: “Sven Berlin, who has died aged 88, was a dancer, painter, sculptor, poet, and writer of fiction, biography and autobiography. As one of the last great British bohemians, he established a reputation in the conservative environment of postwar St. Ives, with his long hair, beard, eccentric dress and earring. Sadly, his fame was never matched by his reputation as an artist.”
Many of Berlin's publications drew upon personal experience. Berlin was part of the D-Day invasions of World War II, having rejected his former stance of conscientious objector, but the experience led to a breakdown and he returned to Cornwall to find restitution through his art. From that time on, the redemptive, restorative and spiritual power of art and nature would remain his guiding principle. The same theme runs through his works, including the two volumes of his 'autosvenography': The Coat of Many Colours and Virgo in Exile, that being a belief in the abstract and mystical forces that guide both nature and humankind. His writing is rich in imagery and metaphor, exhibiting an often dream-like quality. This manuscript is no exception.