Now that I've spent some time with this marvelous book, and learned a little about Frans Masereel (Flemish, 1889–1972), I can't believe I knew nothing of him, and it, before-- but I'm very happy to have made the discovery! Consisting of 83 woodcut prints, Die Idee was one of the earliest graphic novels, telling the story of the birth and worldly life of an idea, personified as a woman.
As Herman Hesse wrote in the introduction to this edition (in translation):
"She walks on through the world, the dear little fairy, she enchants and frightens people, is coveted and persecuted by them, she takes refuge in a print shop, is reproduced, flies a hundredfold, comes into a thousand hands, in front of a thousand eyes, excited love and contempt, admiration and scandal... It is pursued again, is burned, but while the burners glee into the ashes, it is already floating away high in the air, conquering the wire, the telephone, the train, the Morse set, the photographer and film superior and mermaid with the whole complicated apparatus of our mechanics, gets everything excited, confuses everything, spreads seeds of unrest, of life, of love, of indignation, and in the end, after eighty adventures, finds his way back to him..."
Die Idee was first published in a tiny limited edition in France in 1920, then released by German publisher Kurt Wolff in 1924, with the introduction by Hesse added in 1927. Happily there is a website - masreelgroup.com--dedicated entirely to Masereel's work, including the English translation of Hesse's introduction and reproduction of all pages.
This is a wonderful copy and feels like quite a special thing to hold in your hands. Overall very good condition. Pages are clean and free of tears. Long ago the exterior spine was recovered with a fabric strip, with "Masereel" handwritten in black marker. There is a small tear to the top of that spine and general wear to covers. The binding is in good shape.
6 3/16" t x 4 13/16" w x 15/16" thick. Introduction + 83 pages of prints + endpapers. I've included tons of images, but held off from showing what happens at the end!