Roosevelt, NJ. Undated (ca 1970s-80s?) holograph manuscript of 112 leaves, comprising a literal translation of Le Diable dans l'Art by Roland Villeneuve (published 1957). Contained in an unlined, cloth-bound sketchbook 18cm x 14.5cm. Moderate wear, including rubbing to covers and a split to binding near center of text block. Apparently incomplete, as the translation ends in mid-paragraph and Shahn has written "Next Book" at bottom of final page. There are a further 20 or so leaves at end of volume that have been used for random notes on subjects tangentially related to the translation.
Shahn's "literal" translation is handwritten in ink on the recto of each leaf, with her notes and commentary on the text on each facing leaf verso. Her notes range from philosophical arguments with the author, to practical notes on translation of a particular phrase, to lengthy asides on artworks that might be used to illustrated a point in the text. Throughout, Shahn displays a tremendous range of knowledge and mastery, not just of art-historical subjects but of comparative religion, mythology, and aesthetic philosophies. The manuscript offers great insight to Shahn's own work as an artist, illustrator, and lecturer, and reveals her as a formidable intellect very much on a par with her late husband Ben Shahn.