November 19, 2010

Behind the "Sâr", Joséphin Péledan : an author to rediscover

The middle of the nineteenth century see the apparition, in France, of a craze for occultism and spiritualism imported from the United States. Many esoteric associations bloom among which the Order of the Rose-Croix, founded in 1889 by Stanislas de Guaita (1861-1897) and Joséphin Péladan (1858-1918). This young author, rather eccentric, made his name with the publication in 1884 of the Vice Supreme. In this first novel, Péladan denounces modern materialistic society, criticizes the naturalism of Zola and proposes an artistic revival through romanticism and occultism. If Péladan character is sometimes mocked, his talent and his views captivate several major figures of the time : Barbey d'Aurevilly who also wrote the preface to the Vice Supreme, Erik Satie and Claude Debussy, both members of the Order of Rose-Croix (Satie was also the composer's official order). Soon, Péladan virulent catholicism causes the break-up with Stanislas de Guaita.
In 1890, Péladan, who then wants to be called the Sâr Merodack Joséphin Péladan, creates a new society, the Order of the aesthetic and catholic Rose-Croix of the Temple and of the Holy Grail. In 1892, he organized the first Salon de la Rose-Croix at the Durand-Ruel gallery in Paris. Among the artists on display : Armand Point, Fernand Khnopff, and Alexandre Seon. In 1897, after the sixth and final salon of the Rose-Croix, Péladan puts an end to his activities, saying that his artistic position has been successfully transmitted. He settles down, writes art critics to subsist and dies in oblivion in 1918.
The unpredictible Sâr  left his mark on the last part of the 19th century, but also hide the writer's skills of Joséphin Péladan.
Frontispice de F. Rops
Currently, the librairie Loliée offers the following first editions :
  •  Le Vice suprême. Préface deJules Barbey d’Aurevilly. Frontispice de Félicien Rops. Paris, Librairie des Auteurs Modernes, 1884,  in-12, half-morocco binding by Blanchetière. First edition. Frontispiece by Félicien Rops, preface de Barbey d’Aurevilly.
  • Sémiramis. S.l. [Beauvais], s.d. [Imprimerie professionnelle], s.d. [after 1896], in-4, covers. First edition.  Copy an Japan paper.  Sémiramis was written for Sarah Bernhardt.
  • La Philosophie de Léonard de Vinci d’après ses manuscrits. Paris, Félix Alcan, 1910,in-12, half sheepskin binding of the time. First edition (no deluxe paper).