La Reine Pédauque


Jackie has come to an agreement with Jessica at rusty duck to attempt to preserve this year’s echinaceas by cutting them down whilst in bloom. Our Head Gardener dealt with hers this afternoon. Not wishing to waste the flowers she placed them in a vase.

This afternoon, Danni and her friend, Heather, popped in for a visit, and we all enjoyed a conversation with tea and water on the patio.

Later, I finished reading ‘At The Sign of The Reine Pédauque by Anatole France. My Bodley Head edition, translated by Mrs Wilfrid Jackson, illustrated by Frank C. Papé, and with an insightful introduction by William J Locke.

This historical novel, set at the beginning of the 18th century, has all the humanity and humour that one expects from the Nobel Prizewinner who published it in 1893. Without divulging any of the story, I can say that it tells of a young man’s education in book learning and in life from a man of God very much a man of the World with very human desires; contrasting with this teacher is a philosophising alchemist; there are intrigues and disappointments with women, and a certain amount of wine drinking. The prose flows with simple elegance; the descriptions are often poetic; the characterisation is excellent. The tale is well crafted and completed to perfection. I found I needed to tolerate the early pages with their references to ancient and classical authors. The translator added explanatory footnotes for those of a more classical bent. After that the story romped along.

The illustrator’s skilled, elegant, humorous, decorations would enhance any book. As always, these repay close scrutiny.

Regular readers will know that I have been struggling with my teenage scanner lately. It has done me proud for a dozen or so years. The replacement is an updated version of the same model, and made much easier my task of scanning

the gilded front board which would support my assessment that ‘Pédauque’ is an old French word for with goose feet; the end papers; the main plates;

and a sample of the tail pieces and other vignettes. The text on these latter images gives a flavour of the translated prose.

This evening the three of dined at The Royal Oak. Elizabeth enjoyed her roast chicken; Jackie, her macaroni cheese, and I, my battered haddock, chips and peas. Elizabeth’s dessert was chocolate and grand marnier torte; Jackie’s, cheesecake; and mine, Eton mess. Elizabeth and I shared a good bottle of Chilean Merlot 2017. Jackie drank Amstell. Service wS FRIENDLY and efficient; food excellent.

Published by derrickjknight

I am an octogenarian enjoying rambling physically and photographing what I see, and rambling in my head as memories are triggered. I also ramble through a lifetime's photographs. In these later years much rambling is done in a car.

34 thoughts on “La Reine Pédauque

    1. They are really stunning, aren’t they? I just wish I’d bought more of his work before I stopped adding to my library. Never mind, there are still a few to come. Thanks very much, Pauline

  1. I feel guilty now, looking at that poor plant. Glad the blooms made it into a vase!
    I remember being told by a grower that I had to chop the flower off a drop dead gorgeous Himalayan poppy (Meconopsis). That was tough. But apparently it is the only way to get these tricky plants back for a second year. Concentrate on getting a good root system and the rest will follow. I just hope it works!

  2. My echinaceas come back every year, but they are never happy about it. Every year they are fewer and smaller. I might have to try this if I can summon the gumption. Thanks for the tip!

    Fabulous illustrations. Funny.

  3. I am always fascinated by illustrators and their illustrations! Especially in older books! I find myself pouring over the illustrations…I don’t want to miss a detail!
    The echinaceas look beautiful in the vase! Hope the plant can flourish now!
    I had to Google “Eton Mess”…boy, that sounds delicious! I enjoy any recipe with berries in it! 🙂
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  4. ” Pedauque”, by the way, doesn’t actually mean anything. According to a forum, it is a proper name, referring to the wife of King Robert II of France. You learn something every day!

  5. Brilliant blog post Derrick, I love those old books and illustrations – there is something very special about them. At present I am putting order in a lot of books for a charity, and among them are some old books published in the beginning of the 19th century, some of those too have lovely illustrations. Might do a blog on it one day 🙂 enjoyed yours.

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