Limited Editions Club – The Essays of Montaigne (1946)

January 16, 2012 Comments Off on Limited Editions Club – The Essays of Montaigne (1946)

The Essays of Michel de Montaigne (Volume 1 and Handbook [LEC], Volume 2 [HP], 1946)
Sandglass Number: Unknown
Artwork: Decorations by T.M. Cleland
Introduction by Andre Gide, translated by George B. Ives, with additional notes by Grace Norton
LEC #176, 17th Series, V. 2 in 1946

Click images for larger views.  The LEC edition will be on top/left, the Heritage bottom/right (unless otherwise stated)

Front Binding – Michel de Montaigne is one of the legends of the literary essay, helping pioneer the concept of Skepticism and pretty much creating the definition of the essay as a major form of writing.  He has inspired numerous authors over the centuries, and his ideas continue to influence us today.  He was a Frenchman of noble blood, and was viewed more or less as a statesman who liked to write more than a serious author in his own time – his style, which included autobiographical anecdotes along with more philosophical inquires, was not en vogue in the mid to late 1500’s when he lived, and his work has a fairly modern feel to it that makes him easier to understand than some of his contemporaries.

In 1946 the Limited Editions Club decided to publish the Essays in a lovely four volume set, three containing Montaigne’s work and a fourth with notes on the work from the translator, George B. Ives, and additional comments from Grace Norton.  T.M. Cleland served as both designer and illustrator for the work, and he attached his signature to the LEC edition.  For those wishing to know more about him, I have detailed out Cleland’s career with the Macy’s here.  When the Heritage Press did their edition, they condensed the books down to three, splitting Volume 2 into two parts and keeping the notes as a separate work.  Regarding the LEC, I checked out two, the first and the Handbook, for the purpose of this blog.  All four have the same binding style.  I picked up the Heritage Montaigne Volume 2 for documentation on the cheap.

A curious thing I noted about the George Macy editions of the work is that they didn’t commission a new translation or introduction.  Andre Gide offers his thoughts on Montaigne, but this first appeared in 1939 by Longmans Green and Co.  Ives’ translation is from Harvard University Press, printed in 1925.  While this isn’t completely unusual, it’s a little odd that they didn’t recruit somebody to do either of those tasks.  The LEC edition was printed by The Aldus Printers.

Spines (LEC)

Title Page – Furthering my belief that Cleland was a master at title pages.  Lovely stuff.  I am under the impression Grace Norton’s contributions are unique to this edition, but I have no proof of that.

Drastically different lighting I had on these, I must say.

Signature Page – This is number 1122, and Cleland provides his nom de plume.

Page 3 (LEC) The chapter heads have pretty decorations at the head of each, and I’ve provided two examples of this for each edition.  There are no further illustrations.

Page 29 (LEC)

Page 817 (HP)

Page 1453 (HP)

Personal Notes – Picked up for a song at a library book sale, although part of that reason is that it’s a poor library copy.  The book itself is in good condition, but it’s full of writing and stamps. :(  I’ll be selling it off soon.  The LEC version was checked out from my university.

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