Heritage Press – The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette (1943)

December 26, 2015 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette (1943)

The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette (1943)
Sandglass Number 8F
Artwork: Illustrations by Hermane David
Introduced by Jean Cocteau, translated by H. Ashton
Heritage Press exclusive; part of the Nonesuch Press/Heritage Press Great French Writers collaboration.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – At long last, here’s the second volume from the Heritage Press and Nonesuch Press’ collaborative efforts to reprint several French romances — The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette. Unlike the last volume I featured, The Gods are A-Thirst (where the series history is further detailed, and for those seeking a very thorough breakdown of this series, see here), this edition is from the Nonesuch Press. I recently purchased a Nonesuch volume for myself (the same as the copy I borrowed to make this post) that came with a plethora of documentation including a two-page Sandglass, so I can now discuss the production details. As the other nine volumes in this series, this was designed by Francis Maynell, owner of the Nonesuch Press and close friend to George Macy. He chose Cochin as the primary font, with Le Fourneir as the headlines. Curtis Paper Company supplied the paper, which was printed on by the Printing House of Leo Hart. Frank Fortney of Russell-Rutter, the everpresent bindery, did the duties for this volume.

This volume is a Heritage exclusive, unlike some later editions issued under this banner. The Limited Editions Club never printed Cleves, nor did they feature its illustrator, Hermine David, in any other publications. The book is one of France’s most prominent works from a woman; de La Fayette (or her full name, Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, comtesse de La Fayette) is considered one of the progenitors of the French novel (this work stands as the first historical fiction in French and is an early attempt at psychological fiction). It was issued anonymously back in 1678 — a unfortunately common happenstance for women who wished to branch out beyond domesticity in those heady times — but de La Fayette eventually was attached to the work and has since been credited for her efforts in launching French literature as we know it today. This series has done well to include such a critical work in its canon!

As for Hermine David, she was a member of the Ecole de Paris, a group of immigrants in France that all happened to be artists. This was the sole commission she received by the George Macy Company. Her illustrations were reproduced by the Photogravure and Coloring Company, with the colors handpainted by the studio of Charlize Brakely.


Title Page – An H. Ashton translated the book, while then-modern French writer Jean Cocteau introduces the work.

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


Personal Notes – I bought my copy from the local Goodwill for the cheap price of $2.99!

Sandglass and other Documents (right click to open full size):


Updated on 11/12/16


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