The Crime Of Sylvestre Bonnard

Unfortunately my copy of the title work of fiction is not one of the Bodley Head collection of the works of Anatole France, illustrated by Frank C. PapΓ©. It is, however, an early Folio Society volume of 1948, complete with dust jacket.

This charming little tale, first published in 1891, was the author’s first novel. In his usual flowing, poetic, prose he gives us a story of relationships spanning generations. With a delightful delicacy he describes the beauty of human emotions, not omitting scoundrels. As usual, I will not reveal the details. The work has always been in print for anyone who wishes to read it.

Lafcadio Hearn’s translation has been used by permission of The Bodley Head. The translator has provided a useful introduction.

Book illustration, by 1948, had moved on from the Golden Age of elegant draftsmanship exemplified by Mr PapΓ©. The more impressionistic lithographs of Harold Hope-Read are quite a contrast to the careful lines of the earlier illustrator.

Once the reader peers through the murk of the artist’s well balanced designs and deciphers the suggested expressions of the people in the images it is possible to recognise his fidelity to the charming text.

This evening we dined on Lidl ready-made curries. Mine was chicken jalfrezi; Jackie’s was chicken korma. These acceptable meals were followed by Belgian buns.


  1. Oh to be able to draw like that! I’ve been listening to Middlemarch, read by Juliet Stevenson. It’s a real treat to listen to a book I’ve read at least three times in the past and simply enjoy the images that are made through the combination of excellent descriptive writing and equally excellent verbal characterisations. And I can doodle at the same time πŸ™‚

  2. I like the expressions on the people’s faces in the illustrations. They are more impressionistic than others you’ve shared, but still, quite remarkable. I hope you’re feeling better and more rested.

  3. Amazing illustrations such as these are missed today in current/modern books.
    We have to look to children’s books to find unique and beautiful illustrations.
    I have a collection of old primer books and the illustrations in them are wonderful. πŸ™‚ Some date back to the 1800’s.
    Thank you for sharing your books with us! πŸ™‚
    Hope you are feeling a bit better today!
    (((HUGS))) πŸ™‚

  4. Kudos to your perseverance with the classics such as those! I would have lived my entire life without having a glance on those without your excellent previews.

  5. Thanks for the link Derrick, I actually do chase down your books in my library, but your liking’s, much like mine, are hard to come by, I do eventually get them
    Thanks mate.

  6. Now you’ve got me wondering what was his crime??

    I guess i’ll just have to read a copy to find out! πŸ˜‰

    Hope you were able to take at least a little stroll through the garden yesterday? Gotta keep the physio happy.

    Best wishes to You and Jackie. πŸ™‚

  7. Your collection of classics must be worth quite a bit. It’s a shame that all too often books such as these get passed by.

  8. The illustrations are very different, but still well done. Thank you, Derrick!

    Are you feeling any better today? You and Jackie are in my thoughts and prayers. Spring will be here soon. πŸ™‚

  9. Hello Derrick πŸ˜€ What interesting illustrations. Mr Hope-Read omits so much light, even from joyful moments like welcoming a baby. Seems he highlights only the important suggestions. Like the woman’s hand through the elbow of the gent with the cane. Otherwise I would have thought she was being nabbed, LOL! Is that a monkey peering around the post, listening to the conversation of the men in the 11th illustration down? What’s interesting to me is most of the illustrations are of people in conversation. Definitely long before everyone was engaged with their smartphone, LOL xk

  10. Thank you for sharing your rare and beautiful books with us, Derrick. The format on my iPad is a little strange. Some text hidden by illustrations! I hope your cold is getting better!

  11. Interesting artwork. The subjects appear out of the murk, rather that the other way around. Not sure I like it, but it is indeed very well done. πŸ™‚

  12. I remember that style of illustration from books handed down to me by my older cousins, or found in attics when we moved house. (I was a voracious and indiscriminate reader). They always seemed dark and mysterious.

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