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.

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