Heritage Press – Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (1954)

July 24, 2012 Comments Off on Heritage Press – Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (1954)

Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust (1954)
Sandglass Number XII:18
Artwork: Illustrations by Bernard Lamotte
Translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff, Introduced by Justin O’Brien
Reprint of LEC #244, 22nd Series, V. 12 in 1954.

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – This book is a bit curious in that it in nearly all respects mimics its LEC original to a fault. The board design is identical to the LEC, as you can see here:

From Bill Majure – http://www.majure.net/

I’m sure the LEC fabric is more luxurious, but it’s a little weird to see a Heritage edition mirror its LEC parent so closely.

Anyway! Swann’s Way is the sole work of Marcel Proust published by either the Limited Editions Club or the Heritage Press. Proust is a rather interesting figure of French literature, but I’ll reserve that story for Wikipedia to tell. Swann’s Way was his first novel in his series of several works of fiction entitled “Remembrances of Things Past”, first published in France in 1913. In 1954 George Macy slotted the work into his 22nd series of the LEC.

The Sandglass raves and raves about the illustrator recruited to render Proust’s novel into visual art, the painter Bernard Lamotte. I have to admit that I am not at all attached to Lamotte’s style, and only have this book to discover Proust. Lamotte’s accomplished and his skills are superb, I do not question that. There’s just something …lifeless to his work that I don’t care for. However, as your faithful curator it is my job to not merely complain about an artist I don’t like, but to instead inform. So, I’ll save rambling on and on about my grievances. Lamotte began working with Macy in 1948, rendering Emile Zola’s Nana for the LEC. He would stick with French-related commissions for the rest of his career (fitting, as he was French). Here’s the rest of his career with the LEC:

France, Anatole, Crainquebille, 1949.
Proust, Marcel, Swann’s Way, 1954.
Hugo, Victor, Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), 1955.
Dumas, fils, Alexandre, Camille (La Dame Aux Camelias), 1955.
Carlyle, Thomas, The French Revolution, 1956.
Maupassant, Guy de, Bel-Ami, 1968.

All prominent French works save Carlyle, but his certainly relates to the French! Lamotte passed away in 1983, which makes his sudden lapse of involvement following Bel-Ami a little odd.

Anyway, the cloth boards were inspired by a photograph of Proust’s quarters Lamotte had taken in order to enrich himself in the world of Swann’s Way. A wall covering in the room looks just like the fabric utilized here, which Lamotte was asked to recreate by Macy after a panicked cable. Lamotte did one better, and actually took a piece of that covering to have it duplicated for both the LEC and the Heritage editions. Apparently it left a strong impression on Macy to have it cover both books! The Garamond Press handled the printing duties, taking the Bodoci Monotype font selected for the text and applying it to Crocker-Burbank paper. Russell-Rutter unsurprisingly was the bindery for the Heritage edition. It’s more of a shock when they’re not involved with a Heritage book! The illustrations were printed in Paris. The Sandglass describes the detail of how Lamotte’s work needed six separate printings of color to be properly reproduced, but I will let it tell the tale. Derberny et Peignot handled the plates, while Delaporte did the actual printing of the paintings. Don Floyd was kind enough to contribute some key information, namely the designer! Macy himself was responsible for this book’s design, making it one of the last books he had such involvement with before his death. Here’s what he has to say about the LEC:

Swann’s Way was designed by Macy and since it was published in 1954, it must have been one of the last books designed by Macy…The LEC binding is in full natural linen printed with a lavendar pattern and stamped in black.

So, there you go. Thanks, Don!

Slipcase – It’s actually black, as much as this photo insinuates it’s green.

Title Page – C.K. Scott Moncrieff was the translator for this work, and Justin O’Brien supplies an introduction.

Page 24

Page 52 – I will admit that I do like this one, but that’s an unfortunate anomaly for my brain. Lamotte just doesn’t cut it for me, alas.

Personal Notes – This was received as part of a trade-in at Bookbuyers in Monterey. I got it primarily to read Proust, and it is a lovely book on the outside. Lamotte had no bearing on my purchase, as I’ve probably made clear by now. :p

Sandglass:

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