Literature in French
Chronology : 1460-1479
1315-1323 The Illuminated Graal
2010 SOLD 2.4 M£ including premium
But the Saint Graal (Holy Grail) is still better than any other secular theme. This search for truth brings into action the kings, the knights, with the morals of that time that included the courtly love. The strength of this first real novel in Western literature is precisely the fact that without contradicting the Bible it does not imitate it in any way.
The manuscript in French bound in three volumes which is for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 7 has been copied and illuminated in Flanders or Artois between 1315 and 1323. This specimen is known as the Rochefoucauld Grail assuming that it was done at the request of the head of this very ancient aristocratic family.
Well studied by medievalists, this beautiful book is illustrated with more than 100 miniatures and nearly 100 large initials. One of its miniatures adorns the press release shared by Artdaily. It is in large format, 405 x 295 mm. Somebody calculated that it took 200 cows to supply its 450 vellum leaves. It is estimated £ 1.5 M.
POST SALE COMMENT
Ancient manuscripts are sometimes difficult to sell. We therefore welcome the success of this one at £ 2.4 million including premium, in the region of the higher estimate.
1464 The Romance of the Bigamist Knight
2012 SOLD 3.85 M£ including premium
At the end of the Hundred Years' War, the Duke of Burgundy Philip the Good maintains a prestigious court and is a patron of arts and literature. The prose novel Gillion de Trazegnies, composed at that time by an anonymous writer, is an amazing example of the revival of the courtly romance, with all the features of this literary genre.
The Trazegnies family actually existed in Hainaut, and the legend of the bigamist knight was told a long time before the writing of the novel. The reader is made weeping with this story of a pilgrim to the Holy Land who becomes a prisoner, believes that his wife is dead, becomes unintentionally a bigamist and is released of this accidental sin by his chevaleresque attitude.
This novel was published last year by the medievalist Stéphanie Vincent, who had access to the five copies in illuminated manuscripts of the original edition, all made for the Duke and his entourage.
Louis de Gruuthuse, stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland, was one of the five privileged who received such a copy, illuminated in 1464 with 8 large and 44 small images. Then it belonged to Francis I king of France and to the Dukes of Devonshire. It is estimated £ 3M, for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 5.
The illuminated page where you see the narrator discovering the heart of Gillion between the graves of his two wives is shown in the press release shared by Artdaily.
POST SALE COMMENT
This outstanding manuscript illuminated in Antwerp or Bruges was sold £ 3.85M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's introducing both this romance and the Mystère de la Vengeance already discussed in this group :
1697 Success for Fairies and Princesses
2013 SOLD 960 K€ including premium
He found a different inspiration and a great demonstrator of his theories by listening to folk tales which he adapted for introducing his moralités (according to the wording of the time). His fairies and princesses in prose could succeed the anthropomorphic animals from the verse Fables of La Fontaine.
In 1697, Perrault and his son ordered the editing as a small in-12 book of a collection of eight stories, seven of which in first editions, under the title Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passé.
Only four copies of the first issue are known. Presumably the author had some doubts about the potential success of this work. If it is the case, he was wrong. The second edition is made in the same year by the same printer, the first fakes are almost immediate, and these tales still inspire today's cinema and children's books.
One of these rare copies of the first print is estimated € 400K, for sale in Paris on December 9 by Binoche et Giquello in collaboration with Wemaëre-de Beaupuis-Denesle . It is in very good condition.
POST SALE COMMENT
This highly rare book was sold for € 770K before fees.
The photo below is shared post sale by Interencheres on Ow.ly.
1841 Balzac on Provincial Life
2017 SOLD for € 1.17M including premium
A great admirer of himself, he foresees for his work the notoriety of Napoléon and puts his social classification on the rank of the scientific works by Buffon and Cuvier. According to the mood of his time he is very keen of physiognomy.
He was born in Tours : for provincial life, his experience is direct. He has met during his childhood these bourgeois, these doctors and these priests who do not understand the unpleasant character of their own pettiness. Balzac does not exclude anything from the mental environment of his bourgeois who are, depending on the individuals, either attracted, repulsed or little concerned in religion or occultism.
Ursule Mirouët, written in 1841, is the story of an innocent girl whom everyone in her surrounding manages to disinherit. Balzac is particularly satisfied with this novel which will soon become the first opus of the Scènes de la Vie de Province in the complete edition of La Comédie Humaine by Furne.
Ursule Mirouët's first-run manuscript will be sold on December 20 in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) in the inaugural auction of the Aristophil collections operated by Aguttes and OVA, lot 45estimated € 800K.
According to Balzac's usual practice, this manuscript has many differences with the final published text. Indeed he preferred to write in speed and to rely upon the printing proofs for reviewing the consistency and bringing innumerable corrections.
Ursule Mirouët is one of only two first-run manuscripts from La Comédie Humaine in private hands. The other example, Massimilla Doni, on music, is a little away from the main social stream of Balzac.
Please watch the video shared by Aguttes.
1857 The First Issue of Les Fleurs du Mal
2009 UNPAID at € 775K including premium
2010 SOLD 200 K€ before fees
In France, Charles Baudelaire released art and literature from the classicism. Originally a middleman, he put himself on the sidelines by seeking to develop new aesthetic values. His early work on the Salons of painting renew as soon as 1845 the art critic, emphasizing quality over fame.
By the same approach, Baudelaire renews poetry. He ignores the limits of good and evil, offering new sensations by approaching sexual deviancy and drugs.
In 1857 he published the collection of his best poems under the title "Les Fleurs du Mal". Of course, moralists and religious object. We are under the reign of Napoleon III, who encourages censorship, and six poems are prohibited at the first trial. The judicial consequences of this case does not go out until 1949, confirming that Baudelaire was a century ahead of his time.
On December 1 in Paris (Hôtel Drouot), Gros et Delettrez sells the copy offered by Baudelaire to his legal advisor. This book contains a dedication, and some annotations made by the poet's hand correcting typographical errors. It is estimated 120 K €.
POST SALE COMMENTS
One of the most sought after books of French literature in its first edition, annotated by the author and coming from a person close to him: the result, 775K € including premium, rewards the outstanding qualities of this lot.
The estimate that had been published before the sale is hardly understandable, as so often in Paris. The Agence France Presse says that another copy, also dedicated, was sold 560K € by Sotheby's in 2007.
This prestigious book has not been paid by the buyer. The auction house Gros et Delettrez presented it again with the same estimate of 120 K €, on April 2. It was sold 200 K € excl. This is an excellent bargain for the new buyer.
According to the French procedure of "folle enchère" (false bidding), the first buyer must pay a fine equal to the difference of the two results, 420 K € plus costs. The hammer price obtained on December 1 had been 620 K €.
1864-1898 The Pursuit of Herodias
2016 SOLD for € 590K including premium
In 1864 he is a young poet aged 22 who admires Baudelaire. In his mind, poetry transcends words to reach emotion. His primary target is the theater, that spoken literature that allows the juxtaposition of rhythms and sounds.
Two projects are conceived simultaneously. Hérodiade is the myth of an ancient clash of civilizations. L'Après Midi d'un Faune is the pretext for an ode to the nymphs. When he starts Hérodiade a few months before working on the Faune, he already appreciates that perfection is impossible but he definitely desires to reach it.
The refusal of the Faune by the Théâtre Français is logical in its time and should still be understandable now. Mallarmé is too abstract to convince that his literary work is actually an absolute art. He soon abandoned the idea of theater for poetry but maintained a three-act structure of his Hérodiade.
His metaphysical doubts come in the next years. Inspired by reading Hegel, he becomes materialistic. The poet now expresses the nothingness. The power is provided to the verb. Mallarmé should be a hermetic poet if only his text had a meaning.
Mallarmé worked his Hérodiade from 1864 to 1866 and then in 1887. In May 1898 he restarts with an extended title : 'Les Noces d'Hérodiade. Mystère'. Once again it is in vain : Herodias remains eternally unfinished by the death of her poet on September 9, 1898.
The autograph manuscripts of the successive versions of Hérodiade were bound in one volume although the sizes of the pages are dissimilar. This book prophetic for a new trend in French poetry is estimated € 400K for sale by Pierre Bergé et Associés in collaboration with Sotheby's on November 9 in Paris (Drouot), lot 466.
1869 The Hermit of Croisset
2015 SOLD for € 590K including premium
A set of 52 folios illustrates the creative process of L'Education Sentimentale. This collection of autograph manuscripts has been bound by a connoisseur. It is estimated € 400K for sale by Pierre Bergé et Associés in collaboration with Sotheby's France inParis (Hôtel Drouot) on December 11, lot 91.
Same as before for Madame Bovary and Salammbô, the meticulous work spread over five years. The drafting started in 1864 and was completed in May 1869. The novel was published in November 1869. It had no reason to raise the bourgeois disapproval as did Madame Bovary, but it proposes an equally pessimistic gradual fall between the hope of youth and the insipid reality of life.
Chance is the enemy of the writer and everything must be under control : the logics of the script, the truth in the events contemporary to the action, the attitudes and the words of everyday language that vary for each social class or group. His unfinished novel Bouvard et Pécuchet will be the ultimate desire of the author to exploit the encyclopaedic range of his working notes. This romantic writer opens the path to Zola's naturalism.
Flaubert throws his ideas on large paper sheets in a form that gradually becomes inconsistent through the abundance of erasures and margin notes. He comments how he wants the reader to understand an idea or a story. Some of these notes were definitely intended for opening critical discussions with his friend and collaborator Louis Bouilhet.
The construction of the novel is visible throughout this set of documents. The first scenes are drafted very early in that process and come together to form the plan, the list of chapters and also to freeze the names of the characters.
1897 Chance and Insanity
2015 SOLD for € 960K including premium
Stéphane Mallarmé is 55 years old. An admirer of Poe and translator of The Raven, he removes any narrative from poetry for developing free lines, sonority and also repetitive emotions brought by the juxtaposition of words. He reportedly told Valéry: "Do not you think that this is an act of insanity?".
Mallarmé is close to artists and had composed texts for musicians. With "Jamais un coup de dés n'abolira le hasard", he properly becomes an artist by designing the arrangement of the words within the pages. This poem is the forerunner of a great tradition by which French speaking poetry became inseparable from art, through Apollinaire and Cendrars.
Ambroise Vollard is 31 years old. His gallery in Paris is already well established and he is determined to shake up the art world by unprecedented initiatives. He meets Mallarmé.
Mallarmé authorizes a first edition of the Coup de dés without the participation of Vollard. The format of the magazine does not please him. Vollard proposes to do better. He imagines that the poem can be illustrated by Redon and chooses as printer the Firmin-Didot company.
Mallarmé is a perfectionist who requests that his typographic instructions are executed in the smallest details. Firmin-Didot prepares five successive states. The last proof is done in November 1897 but unfortunately Redon has not yet provided his illustrations.
On October 15 in Paris, Sotheby's is devoting a sale to the library of Mallarmé.
Lot 160, estimated € 60K, is the autograph of a preliminary draft for the Coup de dés.
Lot 163, estimated € 500K, is the autograph model prepared by Mallarmé including many instructions for the typography.
Lot 164, estimated € 100K, gathers six prints spanning the last four states of the Firmin-Didot proofs. One of the two sets from the last state is again corrected by the hand of Mallarmé for further improvements.
The project is abandoned by Vollard after the sudden death of the poet in September 1898.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
Early draft : € 62K
Autograph model : € 960K
Printed proofs : € 123K
1913 Friendship of Proust and Daudet
2013 SOLD 600 K€ including premium
The deluxe copy number 1 of Du côté de chez Swann was sold by Sotheby's for € 600K including premium on December 18, 2013, lot 607. Pierre Bergé purchased the book and then managed to acquire privately its warm autograph dedication from Marcel Proust to Lucien Daudet.
Coming now from the Bergé collection, the book with the dedication sheet fitted at its original position is estimated € 600K for sale by Pierre Bergé et Associés in association with Sotheby's at Paris - Hôtel Drouot on December 14, lot 927.
I narrated as follows before the 2013 sale the literary work and its dedication.
A wealthy and sickly esthete attends the worldly salons. His ambition is to become a great writer. His sensuality provides him with a vision of life as a river that flows inexorably but is marked by memories of strong impressions even if sometimes their cause is derisory.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, that literary project by Marcel Proust opens the way to the psychological novel, closer to a long prose poem than to a true novel. In his research of every empathy, he did not reject homosexual emotion in his writings and in his own life.
His cycle of novels got a title that highlighted his literary purpose : A la recherche du temps perdu. In 1907 his plan was ready, but the writing phase will be long.
The first opus, Du Côté de chez Swann, was submitted to editors in 1913. Discouraged at first reading by obscure metaphors, André Gide refused to have it published by the prestigious NRF. Bernard Grasset agreed to edit it by author's expense. Gide soon recognized that his decision had been a major blunder.
At the end of the first print and according to the literary tradition, a few copies were printed on luxury paper for being presented to personalities selected by the author : five numbered 1 to 5 on Japon followed by twelve on Hollande.
The number 1 is dedicated to Lucien, a son of Alphonse Daudet. Proust had enjoyed in the mid-1890s the fragility of this effeminate teenager. Their romantic affair revealed against their will by the scandal chronicler Jean Lorrain was followed by an efficient literary cooperation.
The author had included in that copy a dedication page in a typically Proustian emphatic style which had been later kept by Daudet when he sold the book.
#Swann #Proust #MarcelProust @EditionsGrasset 1913 envoi à Lucien Daudet #PierreBerge @pvgberge @SothebysFr vente @Drouot 14 decembre 2018 mon cher petit vous êtes absent de ce livre vous faites trop partie de mon coeur pour que je puisse jamais vous peindre objectivement pic.twitter.com/Egn0NQU1eg— lecurieuxdesarts (@PresseKraemer) October 25, 2018
1924 Automatic Writing
2008 SOLD for € 1.9M including premium by Sotheby's
Automatic writing becomes a literary genre in 1919 with Breton, Soupault and their friends. It is a matter of recording in high speed the words released by the subconscious. A half-sleep or a hypnotic condition favors the process by erasing logics, will and purpose.
These young experimenters create the magazine Littérature and highlight their precursors : Dostoevski, Lautréamont. Their common point is the rejection of classical literature and especially of the novel. For the rest, despite Breton's ambition, the group's cohesion is an illusion. Have they ever questioned why readers outside their small circle could be interested in the irrational text from their subconscious ?
They had been close to Dada that vanished for the same reason. They do not have the monopoly of publishing : when Joyce's Ulysses is released in Paris in 1922, this use of the stream of consciousness in the production of a novel baffles Breton. To avoid being for or against, he does not read it.
In the spring of 1924 Breton is seized with a frenzy of automatic writing. He prepares about a hundred "historiettes" on school notebooks and plans to put together a selection in a book titled Poisson Soluble. At that point Breton finally considers that a theoretical introduction will restrain the hostile comments of the critics. During the summer he prepares a Préface for Poisson Soluble under the aggressive title Manifeste du Surréalisme. He finishes in September the copying of the 31 stories of the Poisson Soluble.
The desire for a cohesion remains ineffective. The Manifeste is a theoretical text but the subconscious had contributed and Breton does not want to rework it. In 1929 he prepares the Second Manifeste du Surréalisme.
The most important autograph manuscripts on Poisson Soluble and the Manifeste of 1924 had been preserved by Simone Collinet, the first wife of Breton, and were sold in nine lots by Sotheby's on May 21, 2008. Acquired by Aristophil, they are for sale in three lots by Aguttes in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on December 20. Purchased by Aristophil from another source, the autograph manuscript of the Second Manifeste is listed in the same auction. The four lots will be sold separately and then followed by an option of global bidding.
The Manifeste of 1924, sold for € 1.9M including premium in 2008, is estimated € 600K, lot 53. The final manuscript of Poisson Soluble, sold for € 900K including premium in 2008, is estimated € 900K, lot 54. The seven automatic notebooks from the Collinet collection, which do not constitute a complete set, were sold individually in 2008 for a total of € 820K including premium and are now grouped in lot 55 estimated € 2M. The Second Manifeste accompanied by printing proofs corrected by the author is estimated € 1M, lot 56.
Please watch the video shared by Aguttes.
1935 The Facile Muse of Eluard
2017 SOLD for € 820K including premium
For the poet Nusch is the ideal woman whose body is confused with the forces of nature. She is the "tranquille sève nue" !quiet naked sap) of his declaration of love. While Paul composes his poems, he entrusts his muse to Man Ray, the photographer of the surrealist group.
The collection of poems titled Facile is published in 1935. Its seven double pages are imbrications shocking in that time of the pantheist text and of the 24 x 18 cm photos of the nude body of Nusch. Printed in héliogravure, these twelve photos by Man Ray mark the variety of his know-how with lighting effects, solarizations and silhouettes.
Paul receives one of the five hors commerce copies on Imperial Japanese paper. Paul Bonet realizes in 1943 a surrealistic binding by drawing the intertwined silhouettes of the hands that the two lovers are alternately posing on his maquette.
The copy has been dedicated to the poet by Nusch and especially by Man Ray who expresses in words their close collaboration and friendship. Man Ray adds silver prints of three photos from the book as well as an original rayograph in superimposition of a solarized nude of Nusch and six smaller photos.
The book is estimated € 500K for sale by Christie's in Paris on October 19, lot 23.
1937 The Pretty Legs of Michèle Morgan
2010 SOLD 560 K€ including premium
The first autograph draft by Jacques Prévert of the screenplay for Le Quai des Brumes was sold for € 560K including premium by Ader on June 9, 2010 over a lower estimate of € 200K. It is now estimated € 100K for sale by OVA Aristophil operated by Drouot Estimations in Paris on November 16, lot 602.
I introduced this lot in 2010 as follows, taking in consideration that it was included in an auction fully dedicated to souvenirs of Jacques Prévert consigned by his granddaughter.
The French public, often hermetic to poetry, made an exception for the thoughtful and irreverent style of Jacques Prévert. It is still called "inventaire à la Prévert" (inventory like Prévert) a list of miscellaneous objects whose charm comes from diversity.
Prévert and Carné, one being scenarist and the other being director, were accomplices of inimitable poetic movies, slices of the romantic life of ordinary people and crooks.
The collection for sale includes the 142-page original script of the third movie of their co-operation, Le Quai des Brumes (Port of Shadows), prepared by Prévert in 1937 after a novel by Mac Orlan.
Each movie was peppered with anecdotes for the greatest pleasure of French movie-goers. It was during the filming of Le Quai des Brumes that Gabin, exasperated by Brasseur, sent him a real blow that became famous.
Gabin the terrible had no reason to slap Michèle Morgan, quite the contrary. In the manuscript for sale, Prévert has told by the character : "You have pretty legs, you know!". During filming in 1938, poetry still escalated. In a scene which has become legendary, Gabin said: "You have beautiful eyes, you know", and Morgan, aged 18, who knew how it was true, replied : "Kiss me!".