October 30, 2009

Illustrious graffitis from the Hôtel des Haricots

Albert de Lasalle (1833-1886), music columnist for the weekly Le Monde Illustré and specialized in opera, published in 1864 a remarkable book on the Hotel des Haricots (hotel of beans). This place is primarily a religious college whose nickname "Haricots" was given by students because of the meager food served at table. In 1792, the building becomes the prison of the National Guard. After the Revolution, the prison is transferred to the hotel Bazancourt. The new lazy prison system which allows good food and good wine makes the place looks like a rowdy house. So uprises the myth of the Hotel des Haricots. The place hosts prestigious guests including Alfred de Musset, Théophile Gautier, Théodore de Banville, Honoré de Balzac who made several trips including one because he failed his military obligations. In 1837, the prison was again transferred in an old granary in the arsenal district. It is this last hotel Albert de Lasalle speaks about. He transcribes the inscriptions found on the walls of "the cells of artists". He also comments the 70 drawings reproduced by the engraver Edmond Morin (1824-1182). The book alternates graffitis, poems, songs, sheet musics.

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers:
  • Morin (Edmond) - Lasalle (Albert de). L'Hôtel des Haricots. Maison d'arrêt de la Garde Nationale de Paris. Paris, Dentu, s.d. [1864], in-8, binding from the period. Edition with ornée de 70 drawings, in black, by Edmond Morin. Page 151 numbered 153.

October 23, 2009

Marcel Proust at Madeleine Lemaire's room

Madeleine Lemaire, born Madeleine Coll (1845-1928), French watercolorist and miniaturist, was holding the most attended artistic and literary room of the Belle Epoque. Marcel Proust met her in 1891 and is charmed by the fifty year old woman who loved to paint roses. The young author is anxious to consolidate its position and Madeleine Lemaire brought him in the game of society life. In summer, she invited her "followers" to stay at her chateau near Paris or a her villa in Dieppe. This is where Marcel Proust met Reynaldo Hahn, who became his lover. From this period uprised Pleasures and Days, illustrated by Madeleine Lemaire and completed by four piano pieces by Reynaldo Hahn, a work inspired by the dandy Robert de Montesquiou also met at the watercolorist room in 1893. In the preface, Anatole France summed up:
"Ce calendrier des Plaisirs et des Jours marque et les heures de la nature par d'harmonieux tableaux du ciel, de la mer, des bois, et les heures humaines par des portraits fidèles et des peintures de genre, d'un fini merveilleux. Marcel Proust se plaît également à décrire la splendeur désolée du soleil couchant et les vanités agitées d'une âme snob. Il excelle à conter les douleurs élégantes, les souffrances artificielles, qui égalent pour le moins en cruauté celles que la nature nous accorde avec une prodigalité maternelle. [...] Heureux livre que le sien ! Il ira par la ville tout orné, tout parfumé des fleurs dont Madeleine Lemaire l'a jonché de cette main divine qui répand les roses avec leur rosée."

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers :
  • Proust (Marcel). Les Plaisirs et les Jours. Illustrations de Madeleine Lemaire. Préface d’Anatole France et quatre pièces pour piano de Reynaldo Hahn. Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1896, in-8, folder, case. First edition. One of the first 30 copies on China paper.
  • Proust (Marcel). Les Plaisirs et les Jours. Illustrations de Madeleine Lemaire. Préface d’Anatole France et quatre pièces pour piano de Reynaldo Hahn. Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1896, in-8, binding by Semet et Plumelle. First edition.

October 16, 2009

René Char : science, a blind lighthouse

In May 1968, apart from the social events that shake France, René Char has a heart attack, first in a long series of cardiovascular accidents. He mentions that "experience" in the introductory text of the Le Chien de coeur, published a year after : "I thought death was coming, but death where, overwhelmed by an unprecedented understanding, I would still need to make a move before falling asleep, before being spread out to the universe forever." This collection, illustrated with an original lithograph by Joan Miro for the first 95 copies, expose six poems, including "Les Apparitions dédaignées" (despised Apparitions), text denouncing the absurd distortions of modern society. The poet discredits the usefulness of science which consolidate a little more the divorce between man and nature :

"Les civilisations sont des graisses.
L'Histoire échoue, Dieu faute de Dieu
n'enjambe plus nos murs soupçonneux,
l'homme feule à l'oreille de l'homme,
le Temps se fourvoie, la fission est
en cours. Quoi encore?

La science ne peut fournir à l'homme
dévasté qu'un phare aveugle, une arme
de détresse, des outils sans légende. Au
plus dément : le sifflet des manœuvres."
Qute from "Les Apparitions dédaignées" in Le Chien de coeur.

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers :
  • Char (René). Le Chien de cœur. Paris, G.L.M., 1969, in-8. First edition. One of the first 95 copies on Arches paper with an original color lithograph signed by Joan Miro. (Only those copies have the lithograph).

October 09, 2009

The mithycal figure of Saint-John Perse

Saint-John Perse is a mythical figure, those of the poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960. Saint-John Perse is also a figure magnified by Alexis Leger, diplomat who used for the first time that nickname with the release of Anabase in 1924. Exiled to the United States during World War II, refusing to ally with de Gaulle, Alexis Leger, businessman lurking in the shadow of the poet, has consistently built his own legend. He prepares himself the biography that opens the publication of his complete works released by the Pleiade in 1972. Renaud Meltz, a historian based at the University of Tahiti, published in 2008 an extensive biography, with 800 documented pages, and set straight the double face of this man of strategy and poetry. (See the interview with Renaud Meltz - source Channel Academy, review of Damien Le Guay).
The poetry of Saint-John Perse, admired for its precision and purity, is difficult and not quite engaging for big audience. It builds a hypnotic and almost liturgical music. Saint-John Perse, during the speech at the Nobel Banquet, precise his vision of what the outcome of poetry is :
"True to his office, which is deepening the mystery of man, modern poetry engages in a business whose prosecution concerns the full integration of man. There is no prophecy in such poetry. Nor is it purely aesthetic [...] It finds a ally in beauty, supreme alliance, but does not take it for an end or its sole nourishment. Unwilling to separate art from life nor love from knowledge, it is passion, it is power, and innovation that always goes beyond bounds. "

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers :
  • Anabase. Paris, N.R.F., 1924, in-4. Firs Edition. One of the 62 copies on Vergé paper.
  • Quatre Poèmes (141-1944). Buenos Aires, Éditions des Lettres Françaises, 1944, petit in-4, in leaves. First edition. One of the 30 copies on Whatman paper, single deluxe edition.
  • Quatre Poèmes (1941-1944). Buenos Aires, Éditions Sur, in-12. First collective edition in the collection "La Porte Étroite" ran by Roger Caillois. This rare edition was withdraw and replaced by a second one which does not contain the preface by Archibald Macleish.
  • Pluies. Buenos Aires, Éditions des Lettres Françaises, 1944, booklet in-4. First edition. One of the 300 copies on Holland paper.
  • Pluies. Buenos Aires, Éditions des Lettres Françaises, 1944, booklet in-4, beautiful binding in grey cal leather, folder and case (P.L. Martin). First edition. One of the 30 first copoes on Whatman paper.
  • Chronique. Paris, Gallimard, 1960, in-4. First edition. One of the 165 copies on Holland paper.
  • Discours de Stockholm. Marseille, Cahiers du Sud, 1960, booklet in-8. First edition released with the issue n°358 (december 1960). Limited to 100 copies on Lafuma paper.
  • Lettres à l'Étrangère. Textes réunis et présentés par Mauricette Berne. Paris, Gallimard, 1987, in-8. First edition. Onf of the 32 copies on vellum " pur chiffon", single deluxe edition.