When the illustrations are more interesting than the novel: Le Livre de Demain

We write quite frequently on this blog about donations to the University Library, not because this material necessarily makes up a large proportion of what we acquire, but more probably because we (the people writing these posts) find old books to be interesting. That is the case with a dozen volumes that we accepted as a donation in the series Le livre de demain, published by Arthème Fayard. I’m sure the novels in these books are worthwhile and interesting, but we accepted them primarily because of their illustrations. For the purposes of the UL, while the novels themselves are unlikely to be heavily used, the illustrations are much more interesting.

All books in this series have woodcuts created specifically for the publications. They are in general by illustrators who are represented elsewhere in the UL. The novels sometimes appear elsewhere in the UL, sometimes not.

A couple of examples of these novels and their illustrations follow:

Ariane, jeune fille russe

Written by Claude Anet, the pseudonym of Jean Schopfer (a writer and tennis player), this novel was adapted several times for cinema– most notably for a 1957 film by Billy Wilder. Cambridge libraries have numerous copies of the novel (and English translations). This edition, which stands at 2016.9.4412, has 29 woodcuts by Angelina Beloff.

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La fée de Port-Cros, ou, La voie sans retour

Written by Henry Bordeaux, our copy (2016.9.4413) in this series is illustrated by Jean Constant Raymond Renefer, who illustrated one other book from the collection in the UL. He was primarily a painter, most well-known for his paintings of soldiers during the First World War.

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Josh Hutchinson

The 19th century Jacques Cousteau? Or the French Darwin?

A book published in 1886 on underwater exploration by Edmond Perrier has been transferred to the Cambridge University Library from the Balfour Library:

Les Explorations sous-marines / par Edmond Perrier (8001.c.515)

The description of Perrier on the title page of the book states that he was Professeur au Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Paris, membre de la Commission scientifique d’exploration des grands fonds de la Méditerranée et de l’Atlantique. Based on the title and description of the author, it sounded as though Perrier was the 19th century version of Jacques Cousteau. The book describes the author’s participation in a variety of expeditions, including on the Lightning, the Porcupine, the Travailleur and the Talisman.

A variety of images of underwater life
from
Les Explorations sous-marines (8001.c.515)

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Fruits, flowers and fantastical figures

The book Fleurs, fruits et légumes du jour / par Alfred Le Petit ; légendes de H. Briollet (8001.b.156), published in 1871, recently crossed my desk. A book of whimsical political caricatures, it is composed of 32 plates issued in a portfolio; each plate comprises a title, cartoon (in colour) and a brief satirical rhyme or poem. The subjects are generals, intellectuals and politicians (all men, this being 19th century France), with a specific focus on the Franco-Prussian war and the Paris Commune of 1871.

Fleurs, fruits & légumes du jour (8001.b.156) - Title page

Fleurs, fruits & légumes du jour (8001.b.156) – Title page

When adding books to the Cambridge University Library catalogue, we are usually able to copy records from other library catalogues. In the case of the record for this book, a previous cataloguing librarian (possibly in UNC Chapel Hill) added the information that “Many plates appear to be based on the anthropomorphized flowers of J.J. Grandville (Les fleurs animées, originally published 1847)”. This is the kind of information that can be useful for people searching the library catalogue (it means that both books will turn up in a keyword search), and it is also an interesting and hopefully worthwhile piece of information for anyone interested in either of these two works. Not only does copying records from other libraries save us valuable time, it also allows our catalogue to reflect other peoples’ research and knowledge. Continue reading

A Fickle Friend

Soon Parliament will reconvene. Brexit is bound to dominate the agenda and many Anglo-European friendships will come under severe strain. But there have been tensions before. In this guest post, Jaap Harskamp gives a (biased) explanation.

The so-called album amicorum is a book of ‘autographs’ collected by wandering scholars from the Low Countries or Germany as they moved from one city or university to another. The craze started in the middle of the sixteenth century. A typical album page contains a poem or prose text in Latin or Greek (sometimes in Hebrew) and a formal greeting to the owner of the book. As part of the salutation there may be a heraldic shield or an emblematic picture. Possibly the best known example is the album of the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius, held in the collections of Pembroke College, Cambridge.1 The contributions to his album were gathered over a long period of time and more than 130 of his contemporaries are represented (Ortelius started his collection in 1574 and continued doing so until his death in 1598).  The cosmopolitan list of friends includes William Camden, Gerhard Mercator, Christopher Plantin, Philip Galle, Justus Lipsius, John Dee, Jean Bodin, and many others. The album represents a European community of learned friends.

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Old Glory flying over France

We’ve previously featured a variety of illustrations from the Liberation Collection; this post will focus on just one book from the collection which is striking, both due to its subject matter and its highly illustrated nature.

Les drapeaux des États-Unis = The american flags (Old Glory) / Alfred Rigny ; dessins de Pierre Noury (Liberation.c.362)

A relatively small book, this contains a ‘Petit histoire du drapeau américain et des drapeaux qui figuèrent dans l’histoire des Etats-Unis d’Amérique (Old Glory)’, which is followed by 40 coloured plates of illustrations of the flags of the United States, and various related offices and organisations (the flags of the president and of various branches of the American military are included, for instance).

Page 34 of Liberation.c.362, showing the (stunningly unoriginal, but also incorrect) New Mexico state flag.

Page 34 of Liberation.c.362, showing the (stunningly unoriginal, but also incorrect) New Mexico state flag.

Interesting both as a brief testament to why it was published, and the exceedingly ornate fashion in which the book is illustrated, the 4-page introductory history of the flag (printed in both French and English) justifies the publication: Continue reading