Heritage Press: Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire (1971)

January 19, 2014 Comments Off on Heritage Press: Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire (1971)

Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire (1971)
Sandglass Number XI:36
Artwork: Engravings by Pierre-Yves Tremois
Translated by multiple authors, edited and introduced by James Laver
Reprint of LEC #191, 39th Series, V. 3, in 1971 in 2 volumes.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – My final post for this winter break focuses on the wild poetry of Charles Baudelaire. He was a pioneer in discussing sexuality in literature, but it caused unending scandal upon him and his publishing house for its words detailing debauchery, lesbianism, death, and other taboos of that delicate period. The Limited Editions Club issued Le Fleurs de Mal (Flowers of Evil) three times, a remarkable accomplishment for one book. While the Heritage Press issued their own editions of a few works printed twice by the LEC (Leaves of Grass, Huck Finn, and The Odyssey are examples of this), I can’t think of any other case of one work seeing three LEC’s off of the top of my head. Another curiosity is that each chapter of the LEC issued the work once! George Macy’s was issued in 1940, and resurrected the artwork of sculptor and artist Auguste Rodin. However, World War II mucked up the publication plans for the book, which was intended to be a 2 volume set with one book containing Baudelaire’s French originals, and the other English translations. However, the French volume was stuck in limbo throughout the war (thankfully, it managed to avoid destruction!) and finally found their way to the LEC in 1947 to be issued at last. No Heritage offering was made. In 1971, the Cardevon Press created their own 2 volume Flowers of Evil starring the talents of French illustrator (chosen for his similar approach to the erotic in art as Baudelaire was in word) Pierre-Yves Tremois, which did see a Heritage reprint (it’s what you’re getting here!). Under Sid Shiff, Baudelaire’s poetry was tapped once more, although a mere three poems were chosen, for issuing as a LEC in 1997 with photographer Henri Cartier Bresson providing the visuals. Baudelaire should be proud of such a publication selection for his main contribution to literature!

Amazingly, the issuing of my Flowers of Evil states New York, proving that Cardevon Press was likely not in full control of the Heritage Press when this book was published. The Sandglass is from Avon, though. I’m not sure how long the two intermediary owners between the Macy family and Cardevon Press, the Boise Cascade Company and Ziff-Davis, held possession of the LEC and Heritage Press, or when Cardevon sold off the Heritage Press to the Danbury Mint (owners of the Easton Press), so this period is still a bit murky to decipher. If anyone has some more definitive information on this period, I would appreciate it. :)

Anyway! Tremois only did this one commission, and his engravings are exceptional. This proves the importance of the author and artist syncing up to really make something special. You can read up on him in the Sandglass.

Design Notes – Charles Skaggs was responsible for the design. He also had a hand in Connecticut Yankee‘s 1946* offering (* = This seems incorrect, as Warren Chappell’s Yankee was issued in 1942 for the Heritage Press, with Guilbeau’s LEC reprint being done in 1948. A quick perusal of the LEC Letter for the LEC shows that Skaggs designed that edition, so I presume the Sandglass meant 1948-49. I need to update the Yankee post, then). Bembo was the font of choice, with 14 point as the size. The paper came from Mohawk Mills, a cream-tone that had the engravings and text applied upon them by Rae Publishing Company. The binding papers are imported French marbling, and the bindery was Tapley-Rutter (which is indeed still manned by Frank Fortney).

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Slipcase

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Title Page – A lot of translators were pulled for this edition: some notable names include Aldous Huxley, Edna St. Vincent Murray, and Lord Alfred Douglas. These and many others were selected by editor James Laver (who also does some translation himself), who offers notes and an introduction to the text as well. It also includes the condemned poems that caused the ruckus in the late 1800s!

Note: Tremois’ work here is a bit risque, so I’m implemented a jump for work safety.

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

Personal Notes – Hm, somehow or another I forgot to put in some actual notes back in January. Must have been concerned with the looming arrival of school. Anyway, I got this at the Oakhurst Library Book Sale for $4, if I recall correctly. It’s a lovely edition I’d like to upgrade!

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

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