Author Books, or Handicraft Models of “The Roses of Hercules” by Tomás Morales


Tomás Morales (1884−1921) was one of the main poets of the Hispanic modernist movement. His major work Las rosas de Hércules (The roses of Hercules) was written under the influence of French Symbolism and the works of the greatest representative of literary modernism in the Spanish language, the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío (1867−1916). Morales’s work offers a singular vision of the poetic outlook of the first quarter of the 20th century, in which mythology and aesthetics contribute to a richly varied language, sometimes intense and sometimes delicate, which radically defines the psychological and geographic space inhabited by the poet. Before the first printed editions of Las rosas de Hércules (volume I, 1922; volume II, 1919) were published, Morales personally designed these two handicraft copies of the volumes, known as author books, in which the components of the future publication are established in exacting detail: the location of the texts; the vignettes, drawings and capital letters that accompany each of the texts; and the covers. The texts are presented in typed and handwritten form, as well as in press clippings, as in a collage. The covers are illustrated by Néstor Martín Fernández de la Torre (1887−1938). The importance of these author books lies, on the one hand, in their being documents of impressive bibliographic value containing handwritten annotations by the author on how the texts were to be presented in the print editions, and, on the other hand, in how these documents confirm Morales’s sense of the book as an art object. These books are in the collections of the Tomás Morales House Museum, in Gran Canaria.

Last updated: June 13, 2016