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. Papé. 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 Papé. 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.