March 26, 2009

Victor Hugo and Olympio's figure

In Les Voix Intérieures (Inner Voices), a collection published in 1837, appears the character of Olympio, Victor Hugo's poetic double. This figure is emblematic of what the poet must be, a guide for the people and leaders. He is the one who sees the truth, the future and who is responsible for transmitting them. André Maurois, in the biography Olympio: The Turbulent Life of Victor Hugo, says : "Writing love poetry is natural to the young man, the poet approaching maturity expects something else for himself. Victor Hugo, between 1836 and 1840, is concerned not to play any public role. Praising nature, the sun and Juliette [Drouet] was good, but can not complete the entire life of a man who wants to "be a spirit driver." Criticism in the Revue des Deux Mondes (Review of the Two Worlds) does not appreciate this Olympio and Gustave Planche writes in the July 15 1837 issue : "It is unfortunate that the name of Olympio is absolutely impossible, but the intention of Mr. Hugo, by creating this barbarism is quite evident. It is clear that in his thought, the idea of himself endorsed the idea of the Olympian Jupiter [...] Mr. Hugo is no longer capable of vision, he found himself a priest and an altar ... " The year of the publication of Les Voies Intérieures, Hugo goes alone at Les Metz, place of his clandestine affair with Juliette Drouet. In the collection Les Rayons et les Ombres (Rays and Shadows), published in 1840, Hugo uses again his allegoric figure in the poem "La tristesse d'Olympio" (The sadness of Olympio). The eternal beauty of nature contrasts with the remembering of a lost happiness. With these verses, Hugo writes a monument of romantic poetry. But, as Maurois states : " criticism, nor Juliette Drouet, then did see the perfection of what was thrown away with a wonderful profusion. "
(Victor Hugo's portrait: © Library of the National Assembly - Irene Andréani photo)

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers:
  • Hugo (Victor). Les Voix Intérieures. Poésie. Œuvres complètes. VI. Paris, Eugène Renduel, 1837, in-8, binding of the period. First edition.
  • Hugo (Victor). Les Rayons et les Ombres. Poésie. Œuvres complètes. VII. Paris, Delloye, 1840, in-8, beautifull binding by G. Mercier. First edition. Joined : an autograph letter of Sophie Gay to Victor Hugo in which she praises this collection, dated Versailles May 21 1840 (3 pp. in-8).
  • Maurois (André). Olympio ou la Vie de Victor Hugo. Paris, Hachette, 1954, in-8. First edition. One of the first 60 copies on Holland paper.

March 19, 2009

Ionesco and Absurd

The first piece of Ionesco, La Cantatrice chauve (The Bald Soprano), first performed in France in 1950, puzzled conservative critics. The following plays are no more successful. The lack of plot, the degradation of language, seen first as provocations, made little by little Ionesco's reputation as an author of avant-garde. The recognition came in 1960 when Jean-Louis Barrault performed Rhinocéros (Rhinoceros) at The Odeon theatre. Béranger, the protagonist is a metaphoric double of the author and first appears in Tueurs sans gages (The Killer) in 1959 and then in Le Roi se meurt (Exit the King) in 1962. With La Soif et la faim (Hunger and Thirst), first performed in 1965 at the Comédie-Française, Ionesco followed his analysis of major metaphysical themes. In this short piece in three episodes, the author describes the religion as an expression of conformism, of the alienation of idealism to the establishment.
To understand Ionesco's work, one must delve into Notes et contre-notes (Notes and Counter Notes), book published in 1962, in which the author talks about the foundation and thrust of his theatre of the Absurd:
"I never understood, for my part, the difference made between comic and tragic. Comic being the intuition of the absurd, it seems more hopeless than tragic. Comic offers no exit. "

Copies that the library offers of
La Faim et la Soif and Notes et contre-notes, are dedicated to the painter Byzantios and his wife. Ionesco prefaced two exhibitions - in 1962 and 1972 - of this Greek artist whom he defended the pictorial universe that he described as spiritual.

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers first editions of Ionesco :
  • Notes et contre-notes. Paris, Gallimard, collection « Pratique du Théâtre », 1962, in-8. First edition dedicated by the author to Denise Byzantios, wife of the painter.
  • La Photo du Colonel. Paris, Gallimard, 1962, in-12. First edition dedicated to Madame Andrée Hubert Martin.
  • La Soif et la faim. Paris, N.R.F., 1965, in-8. First edition of this rare book. Copy dedicated to the painter Byzantios.
  • Présent Passé Passé Présent. Paris, Mercure de France, 1968, in-8. First edition. One of the 60 copies on vellum paper.
  • Découvertes. Illustrations by the author. Genève, Albert Skira, collection « Les sentiers de la Création », 1969, in-8, publisher's binding. First edition with black and white illustrations by Ionesco.

March 12, 2009

Sandra Aftalion's bookbindings

After studying at the Ecole du Louvre, Sandra Aftalion spends six years at the Ateliers d'Art Appliqués of Vésinet (AAAV), where she learns techniques of bookbinding. She completes her training by taking courses in gilding with Alain Coutret and specializes in the art of marquetry.
Wood bindings are the trademark of Sandra Aftalion. Her work with transparency effects is unique. She superimposes layers of various sanded precious woods which are mixed with natural inks to create a modern and delicate binding.

Currently, find a selection of Sandra Aftalion's bindings on display at the library Loliée.

See the website of Sandra Aftalion.

March 05, 2009

Quiet Days in Clichy with Henry Miller

Quiet Days in Clichy, published in 1956, is a promenade in the heart of Parisian nights during the Roaring Twenties. In this autobiographical novel, Henry Miller recounts his life with his roommate Carl and refers to his women's conquests. One can recognize, in this story, the tone of the author, between modesty of feelings and raw language, which earned him to provoke huge critics. The good contrast of Brassaï's photographs which illustrate the first edition, perfectly echo with the world of Miller.
The story was twice adapted in films : in 1970, under the direction of the artist Jens Jørgen Thorsen, who leans on the text to refer to the sexual freedom of the post-68 years, and in 1990 by Claude Chabrol who focuses on the autobiographical dimension.

"I had no particular desire to go anywhere. I strolled over to the Etoile, which was only a few blocks away, and then instinctively headed down the Champs-Elysées in the direction of the Tuileries, thinking to stop somewhere along the line and have a black coffee. I felt mellow, expansive and at peace with the world."
Henri Miller - extrait de Quiet days in Clichy.

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers :
  • Miller (Henri). Quiet Days In Clichy. Photographs by Brassaï. Paris, The Olympia Press, 1956, in-12. First edition.