Heritage Press – The Gods are A-Thrist by Anatole France (1942)

July 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

The Gods are A-Thrist by Anatole France (1942)
Sandglass Number VI:21
Artwork: Illustrations by Jean Oberlé
Introduced by André Maurois, translated by Alfred Allinson
Heritage Press exclusive; part of the Nonesuch Press/Heritage Press Great French Writers collaboration.

Click images for larger views.

a-thrist-binding

Front Binding – Sooner or later I was bound to run into this series; today’s a good a day as any! This book is a part of a greater series on the Great French writers, done in collaboration with the Nonesuch Press (for lavish details on the Nonesuch side of things, I point you to Nick Long’s splendid post on their edition of this very book at his blog). As I have mentioned in The Shaving of Shagpat, the Nonesuch Press was run by Sir Francis Meredith Meynell, who designed this particular edition (according to Long, George Macy designed eight of the ten books, and this one was one of the exceptions). Since this is the first time we’ve seen a book in this line, let me do my best to properly detail out each one below:

A Woman’s Life by Guy de Maupassant/Edy Legrand (1942 Heritage printing, 1952 LEC edition available)
Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac/René ben Sussan (1948, LEC edition available)
Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert/Pierre Brissaud (1950, LEC edition available)
Germinal by Emile Zola/Berthold Mahn (1942, Heritage exclusive)
Mademoiselle de Maupin by Theodore Gautier/Andre Dugo (1943, LEC edition available)
The Gods are A-Thirst by Anatole France/Jean Oberlé (1942, Heritage exclusive)
Candide by Voltaire/Sylvain Sauvage (1939, Heritage exclusive)
Dangerous Acquaintances by Choderlos De Laclos/Chas Laborde (1940, Heritage exclusive)
The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette/Hermine David (1943, Heritage exclusive)
The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal/Rafaello Busoni (1955, LEC edition available)

There is a splendid story behind this series, which I’ve recently separated out into its own post here.

As stated above, the books all share a similar motif for the boards like above; a Fleur-de-lis pattern on both sides, with a gold-stamped spine highlighting the title in a rather fancy font.

Anatole France once again makes an appearance here; we’re running out of books to spotlight! I’ve covered the two editions of Penguin Island and the Heritage Revolt of the Angels already, and, for those who stumble upon this on the main page of the blog, will see that I just shared a heap of illustrations and info from the Dodd, Mead & Co. illustrated editions of those two works right below this one (or for those just glancing at this one post, here’s the link!). All that’s left is for me to track down the LEC copies of At the Sign of the Queen Pedauque and The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard , as well as a LEC or Heritage copy of his shorter novel Crainquebille…not to mention the Sauvage Penguin Island from the Heritage Press! I adore this man’s work, that I most certainly do, and he’s very high, if not the highest, on my “need to own all of the works done by Macy of this author” list. Luckily, his relative obscurity in today’s literary circles will make that not too horrid an expenditure.

Jean Oberlé makes his sole appearance in the George Macy Company canon here. I’m a little torn by the work, personally; it’s colored well and Oberlé has a knack for bringing out the humorous aspects in his illustrations, but the overall look and layout doesn’t excite me. Such is life, I suppose; I can’t be wooed by everyone!

Production details: the font is Cochin, with headings in Sylvan (hmm, almost a nod to Sylvain Sauvage!). The title on the title page and ornamental letters are all done by hand. Riverside Press printed the text, while the Photogravure and Color Comoany of New York produced the illustrations. The Arrow Press colored the art via pochoir, which the Sandglass gleefully explains on Page 4. No bindery info this time!

a-thrist-slipcase

Slipcase

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Title Page – André Maurois, well-known biographer and writer, steps in to introduce this story. Alfred Allinson was one of France’s official translators, and Macy snatched up his localization to use for his edition. Now, an interesting development occurred with the various issuing of this book via Heritage and Nonesuch. Nick points this out, utilizing my photo to contrast against his Nonesuch copy (which I hope he doesn’t mind my using of it, much like he was concerned about his use of my picture!):

gods-hpvsns

The interpretation of Oberlé’s artwork is radically different in the two works! The Nonesuch was hand-colored, as Nick points out, compared to the rubber-stamped prints done for the Heritage printing. Fascinating stuff, and it makes me wonder if other books shared between the two printing houses did the same sort of treatment. Kudos again, Nick!

Examples of the Illustrations by Oberlé (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I bought this from Old Capitol Books in Monterey the first time I visited the rechristened Bookhaven. It’s not the first printing, but I’m happy to have another France tome in my collection. It’s in really good shape.

Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):

Updated 7/17/2013 by JF

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