Heritage Press: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1950)

December 29, 2016 Comments Off on Heritage Press: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1950)

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1950)
Sandglass Number Unknown
Artwork: Illustrations by Pierre Brissaud put into woodblocks by Theo Schmied
Introduced by Jacques de Lacretelle, translated by J. Lewis May
Reprint of LEC #206, 19th Series, V. 10; part of the Nonesuch Press/Heritage Press Great French Writers collaboration. The LEC issued this work earlier in 1938 with Guntar Bohmer’s illustrations.

Click images for larger views.

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Front Binding – To end 2016, we’ll post about the leading vote for the Heritage Reader’s Pick, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. This book has a bit of history, being that it was part of the Heritage Great French Romances series. One of the original ten books planned in 1938, this volume ended up being issued in 1950 as a Limited Editions Club title before launching as the ninth item in the aforementioned series in 1951 (the copyright date still lists 1950). Since my friend Django6924 did such a lovely job detailing the entire series, I’ll repost his comments about this particular book:

It isn’t until February, 1951 that Madame Bovary appears. I foolishly gave away my Heritage/Nonesuch edition when I acquired the LEC version which came out in April, 1950, so the information which follows comes from the LEC Monthly Letter. As you remember, Pierre Brissaud had elected to do Bovary and was “nearing completion” when the series was announced in 1940. The Monthly Letter continues:

“But by the time M. Brissaud finished his illustrations, the Nazis had marched into Paris and the Nonesuch Press had lost contact, with M. Brissaud on the one hand, and with us on the other. It was to us, at the headquarters of the Limited Editions Club in New York, that the Brissaud illustrations for Madame Bovary found their way; and it was we who, immediately after the war was over, found ourselves in Paris with those illustrations under our arm and the mission to have those illustrations reproduced in Paris, not for the Limited Editions Club, but for the Nonesuch Press.”

The Monthly Letter then goes on to say that discovering that the atelier of Théo Schmied had reopened in Paris, and M. Schmied had indicated his interest in printing the Brissaud illustrations through multiple wood engravings, that it was decided Bovary with the Brissaud illustrations reproduced through multiple wood engravings in color would be issued first as an LEC book, and it was. This was despite the fact that Madame Bovary had been previously issued by the LEC in 1938, with illustrations by Gunther Boehmer (I’ve never seen a copy of this edition). The Monthly Letter then adds a reassuring note:

“Now once this edition…is distributed to members of this Club, it will be followed by an unlimited edition (in which the illustrations will be reproduced in monochrome) to be included in that series called The Ten Great French Romances, for distribution by the Nonesuch Press in London, and for the Nonesuch Press, by the Heritage Club in New York.”

Meynell’s typographic plan was used for the LEC editon, and of course, for the unlimited edition, which, if memory serves me, had “Heritage” on the bright green buckram spine, with green fleurs-de-lys patterned boards, which indicates it was a later printing as the 1950 edition had “Nonesuch” on the spine, which was lavender. As I remember, my Heritage edition had the illustrations reproduced in color–not monochrome.

This is the Nonesuch version of the book, given the lavender coloration. And the illustrations are indeed in monochrome. I’ll have to see if I can find a Heritage edition to compare.

This is Flaubert’s first appearance on the blog, although he had a fairly prolific run with Macy. This book is actually the second printing of Madame Bovary; 1938 saw the release of a LEC exclusive with Guther Bohmer’s artwork. The Temptation of Saint Anthony followed in 1943 with Warren Chappell’s artistic touch. Next came Brissaud’s 1950 spin on Bovary. Salammbo was issued in 1960 starring the talents of Edward Bawden. And lastly, the Cardevon Press issued Three Tales in 1978 with the art of May Neama.

Brissaud, meanwhile, is on his second-to-last commission we have covered on the blog. We’ve hit all his other contributions save his Shakespeare, The Two Gentleman of Verona. World War II wrecked havoc on Brissaud, as Django observes above, and really cut his potential for Macy. Thankfully he was really really good on the books he did illustrate!

I don’t have a Sandglass, so Django’s notes will have to suffice for now.

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Title Page – Jacques de Lacertelle provides an introduction, and J. Lewis May did the translation from French to English. As you can see, Brissaud’s work is different than his other contributions; Theo Schmied desired to convert Brissaud’s linework into woodblock, and Macy agreed to the endeavor. Personally, I prefer the watercolors and light touch of Brissaud’s style in contrast to the woodcuts, but maybe it looks better in color.

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

Personal Notes – This was another title Liz sent me earlier this year.

Limited Editions Club – An Iceland Fisherman by Pierre Loti (1931)

December 11, 2016 § 2 Comments

An Iceland Fisherman by Pierre Loti (1931)
LEC #21/2nd Series V. 9 in 1931
Artwork: Lithographs by Yngve Berg
Introduced and translated by Guy Endore

#504 of 1500. LEC Exclusive.

Click to see larger views.

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Front Binding – As chosen by the readers, the Limited Editions Club’s An Iceland Fisherman is our featured book this time. It’s been a little while since we’ve gone this far back in the Club’s history; this is from the second series of 1930-31, alongside Vanity Fair and Tartuffe. Unlike those two, this one would arguably be considered a more obscure selection by modern standards. Pierre Loti was the pen name of a French Navy officer named Julien Viaud, who first found literary success with this novel after thirteen years of writing novels for little to no fanfare. Those earlier works too became popular following the release of An Iceland Fisherman, and Loti received several accolades following this book, including the titles of the Legion of Honor and a seat on the French Academy. This would be the sole novel of Loti’s to get the LEC treatment, and the Heritage Press never reprinted this or any other work of his.

For their edition of Loti’s magnum opus, George Macy decided to not turn to France, Loti’s homeland, but to Sweden. Recruiting acclaimed Swedish artist Yngve Berg, designer Akke Kumlien, and publishing house P.A. Norstedt and Soner, the Royal Printing Office of Sweden, this book definitely has a flavor unique to its origin country. Macy doesn’t necessarily go into detail as to why Sweden was chosen for a French novel about an Icelandic Fisherman, but he does at least acknowledge that it is a bit of a curious choice in the Monthly Letter. Berg only illustrated one other book for Macy (Cymbeline in the LEC Shakespeare; thanks to commenter Eric for the reminder). Here, his soft pencil lithographs have a haunting quality that seem apropos for a book such as this. The binding is also very charming, with a simple but stunning grace with its colorful fish motif.

Design Notes – Berg and Kumlien share design duties on this volume, although Kumlien is the primary designer according to the colophon. Van Gelder Zonen of Holland provided handmade white linen rag paper, which was subsequently printed upon with the Cochin font via monotype machines. As noted above, P.A. Norstedt and Soner handled the printing duties of both text and lithograph, as well as the binding. The binding’s spine is white canvas with the author and title stamped in gold inside a green box, and the front and back covered with the aforementioned fish design by Berg.

I neglected to mention that Django6924 was the kind donor of the Monthly Letter. Shame on the blog founder/editor!

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Spine

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Title Page – Macy decried the lack of a good English translation of this novel, so he commissioned Guy Endore to render a new one for the Club. Endore also provides an Introduction unobserved here.

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Colophon – This is #504 of 1500, and signed by Berg.

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

Personal Notes – There is a slightly sad story attached to this book. If I can breach into the realm of the personal (in a section called Personal Notes!), this was purchased in San Francisco at Green Apple Books this past August or September. That by itself has no emotional attachment, but the trip in question was the last time my ex and I went out on a trip together in what was then perceived to be an attempt to do something fun and try to rejuvenate our marriage. That ultimately did not come to pass, but there is no “alas” or “unfortunately” terms to state. While at the time I wanted to try to repair and maintain our companionship, the subsequent months since this book’s purchase has highlighted how much that desire was falsified by my own insecurity and fear. Since our separation I have regained a lot of lost perspective and understanding on what exactly want in life, which for a very long while I had forgotten. So, while I do have regret about my marriage ending, it is not a bad thing in the slightest. Instead, it is an opportunity to learn, grow and rediscover, which is what I have been doing ever since.

LEC Monthly Letter

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Limited Editions Club: Quarto-Millenary (1959)

December 4, 2016 § 1 Comment

Quarto-Millenary: 250 Publications of the Limited Editions Club (1959)
Special Publication of the LEC.
Artwork: Reproductions of various LEC editions.
Introduced by Robert L. Dothard. Critique by Paul Beaujon, Paul A. Bennett, Edward Alden Jewell, James Laver, Thomas Craven and John T. Winterich. Commentary in the Bibliography by George Macy.
LEC #114 of 2250 (1500 for membership, 750 for distribution outside of the Club). LEC exclusive.

Click images to see larger views.

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Front Binding – Long time no see! As you may have gathered, my life was not in a place where I could devote much time to covering the publications of the George Macy Company and its handlers; to be brief, I recently separated from my wife amiably after discovering that we weren’t happy together any more. Don’t worry, though — I’m doing fine and am finally at a good point to pick up this project once again (good thing, too, as I’m getting backlogged!).

Our book today is the Quarto-Millenary, a thorough and wonderful resource for any collector interested in the Limited Editions Club under George Macy’s tenure. Issued in 1959 as a special publication, it finishes the dream of Macy to properly archive the history of his Club at a crucial point of its lifeline, and stops just short of the end of the 23rd series’ conclusion in 1955. Unfortunately, Macy passed away in 1956, leaving it unfinished; thankfully, publisher Robert L. Dothard explains how the book came to be in his Introduction. According to Dothard, Macy got the idea to cover the entirety of the LEC enterprise after the Shakespeare set issued its own record, Ten Years and William Shakespeare. He desired to mirror the format of that little book: a collection of critical commentary on literature, fine printing, and as illustrated tomes; next, he planned to provide several photographs of the work of the Club as an example of how he felt the art should be produced; next, the bibliography, complete with Macy’s thoughts and insights into most of the editions issued; and last, a proper index. As the 250th volume of the Club approached, he began in earnest this project. He wanted a comprehensive survey of his Club, done up as detailed above, with his personal selections for the pages to represent the Club’s artistic merits as fine press books, with the pages to be reprinted exactly as they originally were. The critique was called for from major essayists of the day, and the beginning of Macy’s detailed bibliography took form. He coined the title, and started the immense selection of the representations to be included…but alas, time ran out for Macy before he could get the project completely off the ground. Stalled, Helen Macy stepped in and recruited Dothard to take over the design and publication of the book. With the assistance of Max M. Stein, production manager for the LEC, and Yetta Arenstein, who assisted editing the Bibliography and Indexes, Dothard completed the monumental task of Macy’s dream archival record in 1959.

The book is formatted as such: Critique, provided by several key contributors (including John T. Winterich, who has written several forewords and possibly even some letters for the Club! We’ve seen him plenty over the years); Conspectus (the collection of images from the many books from the Club); Bibliography, and Indexes. It’s a lovely history of George’s era of the Club, arguably its finest in its long line, and is definitely worth checking out if you’re into Macy’s publications.

Design Notes – As noted, Dothard was the primary designer of the book, taking cues from Macy’s original plan but acting on his own to execute it. A. Colish and Clarke & Way handled the text composition and printing, while a multitude of illustration printers tackled the reprinted Conspectus: Crafton Graphic Company, W.S. Cowell Ltd., The Curwen Press, George C. Miller, Photogravure and Color Company, and Walter Fischer. The paper is an Archer white provided by the Curtis Paper Company, and the binding was done by Russell-Rutter’s Frank Fortney (by the way, 170 of the volumes featured were bound by Fortney, so no wonder his name pops up so often!).

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Spine

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Slipcase

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Title Page – A simple yet dainty design with a lot of color. Nice!

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Dedication – Helen Macy provides some generous words about her husband and the people responsible for the publication of this and future books.

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Colophon – This exceeded the usual 1500 publication limit by 750, more than likely to distribute to crucial repositories and libraries. This is #144 of the 1500 allotted to the membership.

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

Personal Notes – I got this from Carpe Diem Fine Books in Monterey a week or two back. I was astounded to see it; I was further shocked by the $75 price tag! That seemed so low to me that it was almost decided then and there to buy it. However, there was a 30% off sale (with the potential for it to go up to 50% if I could find five books!), so I did dig around in the hopes of seeing if I could pull off some sort of amazing purchase of five LECs to get the greater discount. I did not, so immediately I went back and grabbed this. The good news is that the other LEC I found, The Three Plays of Ibsen, ended up being essentially free thanks to the combined 30% discount, so I have double the reason to be merry about acquiring this lovely resource!

PS – Macy’s notes will likely be an Of Interest post in the future!

I’m not sure if this came with Monthly Letter — I will find out and report back with it if possible.

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