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What is possible with literature and paper?

Visual Editions are doing some really lovely things. Their re-imagined edition of Tristam Shandy set out to play on the visual elements of the novel, highlighting and exaggerating what Laurence Sterne had intended when he first wrote the book. Now their latest project, Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer, explores die-cut techniques and what is possible with literature and with paper.

Jonathan Safran Foer, who for some time had been keen to experiment with die-cut techniques, worked with Visual Editions on some ideas and they eventually decided to work with an existing piece of text – his favourite book (The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz) – and cut a new story out of it.

Unsurprisingly, finding a printer was difficult until Visual Editions discovered Die Keure in Belgium who were up to the challenge of making a book with a different die-cut on every page.

Jonathan Safran Foer says “I hope Tree of Codes in some ways contributes to this conversation that we’re now having about what’s possible with literature and what’s possible with paper.”

Visual Editions say that, “(after) a year of writing, cutting and proto-typing later, comes Tree of Codes, a haunting new story by Jonathan Safran Foer cut from Bruno Schulz’s words. The book is as much a sculptural object as it is a work of masterful storytelling: here is an “enormous last day of life” that looks like it feels.”

A brilliantly imagined project. Visual Editions – we salute you!

You can read more about Visual Editions in this piece for The Literary Platform by founders Anna Gerber and Britt Iversen.

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