Lot 17
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The Illuminations. Notice par Paul Verlaine. Paris, La Vogue, 1886.
Large in-8 : red jansenist morocco, spine ribbed, parma morocco lining set with a gilt fillet and a red morocco frame, pink silk endpapers with floral motifs, gilt edges on witnesses, cover preserved (Alix).
First edition.
Limited edition of 200 copies: one of 170 on Hollande laid paper (no. 104).
Founding text for the whole of modern poetry.
Poetic collection in prose, published without Rimbaud's knowledge (1854-1891), while he was in Abyssinia. At the head of the volume, a Notice by Paul Verlaine expresses admiration and concern: "At sixteen, he had written the most beautiful verses in the world [...]. He was said to be dead several times. We don't know this detail, but it would be very sad. Let him know this in case it is not the case. For we were his friend and remain so from afar." (Bibliothèque nationale, En français dans le texte, 1990, n° 299.)
Elegant binding in doubled morocco by Mme Alix.
Minor restoration in the margin of the second cover.
An autograph letter signed by Paul Verlaine addressed to a friend (the poet Jules Tellier?), December 19, 1886, announcing the publication of the Illuminations, has been bound in at the head of the book.
A letter written during one of the worst periods of Verlaine's life, marked by despair and misery: he has been in Broussais Hospital for a month and a half, "Follin ward, bed 6", he tells his correspondent, giving him the visiting hours.
He asks for news of his friend, then announces bluntly: "Me, always in the doldrums and ill. (He will be expelled from the Broussais Hospital on March 13th 1887 - before being admitted to the
Cochin Hospital on April 9th). "Ah! my wife has been remarried for a month. You see that my life on this side continues to be charming and not very processive. For it goes without saying that I do not intend to leave my son exclusively in the hands of these two chosen ones in Naquet." (The Naquet law of July 27, 1884 had restored divorce.)
Then came the literary news: "Did you receive my two books, Louise Leclecq and Memoirs of a Widower. If not, go to
Vanier and ask for me.
The Illuminations have been published (Vogue office, 4 rue Laugier: write to M. Gustave
Kahn). Six francs, high price."
He reminds his correspondent of the 75-franc debt of a person whose name has been crossed out and, in postscript, asks for news of Decroix, Millaud, Esnault, and Edmond Thomas.
(Autograph letter signed, 2 pages in-8 on grid paper.)
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