From the beginning, the image I had of a finished novel was as much a work of art as it was a book. Something more than words. I imagined five wooden boxes. The wood: Japanese aromatic cedar, unvarnished to retain the smell of the wood. Lined with tanned deerskin. The cedar box would be so cleverly designed that it would not readily be obvious how to open it – a mystery. The text would be printed on heavy ivory drawing paper and left unbound. The loose leaves would reside in an inner buckram-bound box, lined with maps. A tray fitted above that box would contain artifacts described in the narrative of the novel. The artifacts would be enclosed in small drawstring bags made of silk and indigo-dyed cotton from antique fabric collected in Japan. That tray would be made of piano-key quality ebony, and also lined with tanned deerskin. All of the illustrations would be original commissions, as would be the music – written in the text and enclosed on a CD.
And, thanks to the talent of 15 different artists – craftsmen, illustrators, and musicians – that’s what happened. We did it. The process of that achievement was as much a joy as having the finished box in my hands.
And thanks to the magnificent talent, untiring patience, and effort that only friendship can inspire, Barbara Witt has managed me and this project from beginning to end.
The archive edition is not-for-sale. It was never intended as such. The cost would be pro-hibitive. Moreover, it is not finished – parts 3, 4, and 5 are waiting for their boxes. If the novel in its printed form is successful, the publisher and I will consider producing a limited number of a fine arts version along the lines of the archival edition. Meanwhile, here are some photographs of the original.