Droll Tales 14

There was no Mervyn Peake illustration to the fourth tale, entitled by The Folio Society “The Building of Azay Castle” from the second Decade of Balzac’s collection.

This was more than compensated for by Gustave Doré in what his publishers called “How the Chateau d’Azay came to be built.

Jean de Bosschère’s publishers showed the same title, which is in fact really more accurate, given that this really has nothing to do with building but all to do with the decision to build it.

With all the author’s fluent prose and a smattering of double entendre, he tells of the resourcefulness; obsession with a beautiful, older, woman; the sexual prowess; a bet ultimately lost, yet made good by a clever cryptic account, of a poverty-stricken young man.

Further details of each of these publications is given in https://derrickjknight.com/2023/01/06/droll-tales-1/except that the second Decade is published by New York’s Covici, Friede in 1929. It is America’s first edition thus and is a limited copy. The illustrations are not protected by tissue but the book’s condition is good and covered by a cellophane wrapper. 


  1. That first Gustave Doré illustration made me smile…but, like, also, oh, my! 😮
    I so enjoy looking at the illustrations and if I have time I read some of the text.
    Today I had to look up the word paternosters. 🙂
    (((HUGS))) ❤️

  2. That’s quite a wasp waist in the first illustration! Incidentally, did you hear about the rare shark that was found on the shores of the Solent yesterday?

    1. Thank you very much, John. I did see the shark on BBC News. I hope they get the head back

  3. I can’t remember if I’ve told you the wonderful story of Mervyn Peake and the elephant he fed with buns one night. You can find the tale in the first paragraph here, and the rest of the piece might be interesting to you, too.

    1. Another fascinating link from you, Linda. A droll tale of the elephant in the room. Thank you very much

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