A legendary text first published in french in 1984 as " le Destin des Lévriers" and
only now receiving its definitive English translation in a limited, numbered edition
All of the author's illustrations are reproduced-18 in colour with 64 specially
commissioned line drawings, in a generous format of 8,5 by 11 inches.
This collector's item, having to 272 pages is issued in soft covers in an edition
strictly limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies.
With typical modesty, Przezdziecki begins his book thus :"The final pages of this
book, the third part, contain its finest passages. Its author is the almost unknown
Flavius Arrian ; and so it falls first to lovers of the Levrier to revive his memory,
a figure of high moral standing, a soldier, a stoic - and the author of the oldest
document in history about the Levrier."
And the book opens with an image 9,000 years old, the earliest trace of the animal
and closes with a translation by Malcolm Willcock of that fascinating Greek text
from the second century. Even the illustrations - we reproduce completely those in
the French edition, as Mme Rey, the author's widow, wished - convey Przezdziecki's
characteristic passion ; most of the line drawings derive from sketches made by
the author during his reading and his visits to sites and museums
During his reading ? Yes, he had the endearing habit of taking pictures for his
notes, from books, not by scanning (not yet invented) nor by photocopy (then cumbersome
and pricey), but by sketching, just as he did when a Levrier came into view on an
cave wall or on the side of a vase in a museum.
These sketches reveal a "coup de crayon", as the French have it, a gift of touch
and graphic expressiveness. After publication of the first French edition many originals
and photographs were lost ; the remaining sheets came to live in a thick folder
in a wardrobe - where Mme Rey found them in the inquisitive company of the translator.
What a delightful moment. She had no idea that they had survived, amidst sheets
also of meticulous manuscript and typescript, all testimony - were that needed !
- of the enormous effort his devotion demanded in the composition of this wide-ranging
book, in an era before diskettes, word-searches and interim print-outs
The private publication at last of an English version of "Le Destin des Lévriers"
has been made possible by the generosity and unstinting energies of Mme Przezdziecka-Rey.
All of us who have been involved are happy to dedicate this venture to her, mindful
of the simple and powerful message that Przezdziecki spells out early on:
"This is the ambition of my book : recognition of the Levrier as a species - which
is no more than to recognise the truth."