The Road To Spiritual Redemption

The book I finished reading yesterday once, according to the bookplate it bears, graced the shelves of Geoffrey P. Shakerley. Was this Colonel Sir Geoffrey Peter Shakerley (1906–1982), Chairman of Gloucestershire County Council (1956–1967) ? I wonder. And was he the first owner?

Here is the gold-embossed front board of another beautiful volume in the Bodley Head collection of the works of this author and illustrator.

I rarely read a book twice, but the tell-tale train ticket slipped inside suggests that I first read this one in June 1996, and was not deterred from enjoying it again. First published in 1890, this is the first illustrated edition of 1926.

Undoubtedly rich in satire from M. France, this is nevertheless a treatise on the trials and tribulations on the road to spiritual redemption. St Thais of Egypt, a libertine said to have lived in the 4th century A.D. and converted to early Christianity by a monk wracked with thoughts of lust for her. The writer, within this story, weaves struggles with conscience and much philosophical debate. His effortless prose has been well translated by Robert B. Douglas.

As usual, Papé’s superb draftsmanship is represented by endpapers;

by twelve full page plates;

by introductory section headings;

and by end pieces, from each of which I offer a selection.

Jules Massanet’s eponymous opera was based on Anatole France’s book.

Here is the final scene including the Renée Fleming duet with Thomas Hampson (10.29 minutes)

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare.

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. 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.

The Revolt Of The Angels

This morning I finished reading ‘The Revolt of the Angels, Anatole France’s satirical novel based on a potential re-run of the Christian idea of the war in Heaven between the evil angels of Satan and those of St Michael on the side of good.

Fallen angels are brought to life in cities ancient and modern, and consort with human beings.

We begin with a mysterious chaos in an historic library and follow the tale through the next two hundred years. I will reveal no more of the story, save to say that it is written in the author’s usual flowing prose as ably translated by Mrs Wilfrid Jackson. Mine is the first illustrated edition, produced by The Bodley Head in 1924.

As regular readers will expect, the illustrations are by the estimable Frank C. Papé.

Here are the front board, and

the end papers.

There are the usual 12 plates worthy of close perusal,

and the vignettes at the ends of chapters. I have included a sample of these.

This afternoon I watched the BBC transmission of the Six Nations rugby match between Scotland and Wales.

I settled down to a recording of the England/Italy game after we dined on pizza and salad.

The Well Of St Clare

28th February 2019.

This morning I finished reading the next of my works of Anatole France illustrated by Frank C, Pape. This Bodley Head edition was published in 1928.

The book was translated by Alfred Allinson, who has clearly reproduced the author’s beautifully, simply, flowing poetic prose. The title tale is one of a selection of short stories, mostly set in Mediaeval times, being satirical commentary on the religion of that period; with a lacing of philosophy..

The intact jacket reproduces the gold embossed design on the front board.

The endpapers don’t quite fit my scanner.

As usual there are a dozen full page plates,

and a number of chapter end pieces, of which I present a brief selection.

Feeling pretty rough, I went to bed early and forgot to publish this until the morning.

A History Of The World

Today I finished enjoying another Bodley Head publication of the collaboration between author Anatole France and illustrator Frank C. Papé. The book was first published in 1908, which has significance for one example of the writer’s prescience. Focussed on France as Penguinia this is a satyrical history of Western Europe in general, with a pop at the United States. As usual, I will not spoil the story with details, save to say that anyone with some knowledge of world history, philosophy, politics, or religion will get the gist of this acute analysis of human nature, society, morals, and customs. The writing from M. France is as flowing as ever, and the final Book VIII chilling in its foresight.
A.W. Evans has provided an excellent translation.

Mr. Papé’s illustrations are as skilled as ever. Do not miss any detail of the exquisite, often humorous, main plates,

or this selection of the black and white tailpieces.

Late this afternoon, Jackie drove the two of us around the forest where

as usual, ponies and donkeys occupied the green at South Gorley. Although this village is now barely a hamlet, the large, now residential, building forming a backdrop for the pony scenes was once a school. The fifth picture contains a familiar view of a pony, legs in the air, scratching its back on the grass.

Around the corner, pigs at pannage snuffled up fallen acorns. One, oblivious of the approaching car, leisurely trotted across the road.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips and Garner’s pickled onions. Jackie and I drank Wairau Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2017, while Elizabeth finished the Brouilly.

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.

The Gods Are Athirst

Often underestimated is the influence of a translator on the literary quality of a written work of art. It seems to me that the translation of the Englishman, Richard Allinson, must have been significant in producing the version of Anatole France’s ‘The Gods Are Athirst’ in such simple, poetic prose as is presented in The Bodley Head’s first illustrated edition of 1927 which I finished reading today.
The author, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1921, has produced a masterly novel set during the reign of terror in the aftermath of the French Revolution. We have a perfectly crafted tale of love, fear, poverty, mistrust, political intrigue, mismanagement, breakdown of law, and ultimate tragedy with what I think is historical accuracy. Sensitive characterisation, poetic imagery, and a keen sense of the dramatic are evident in this work. I particularly like the skilled descriptions of environment, place, and weather, all of which set the scene and have symbolic significance. Above all, this is any easy book to read. As usual, I will not give details of the story.
Having earlier embraced the flowing line exemplified by Aubrey Beardsley in his book illustrations, by the time he came to produce the illustrations for this volume, John Austen, an excellent and prolific artist, had become influenced by Art Deco, a style, although popular, which I dislike for its geometric angularity. Nevertheless I can but admire

the colour plates

and the black and white vignettes that decorate this publication.

I had trouble presenting these pages directly from the scanner, so Elizabeth photographed them while I held them down then loaded the results into the computer, taking care to crop out my fingertips.
This evening the three of us tried Rokali’s, a comparatively new Indian restaurant in Ashley. It was a good one. The food was very good, as was the friendly, efficient, service. I chose Bengali prawn; Jackie, chicken shaslik; and Elizabeth, chicken tikka bhuna. We shared special and sag rices, a plain paratha, and onion and cauliflower bahjis, and all drank Kingfisher.

Various Stages Of Life


The experts on the antiques programme Bargain Hunt, which we generally watch at lunchtime, tell us that silver items should not be polished, for that activity eventually obliterates the hallmarks. Many antique book dealers also believe that uncut book pages should be left in their pristine condition because taking a knife to them reduces their value.

This poses the question whether treasures are to be preserved in figurative amber and never used, or to be enjoyed for what they are

Count Morin, Deputy 1

I had no qualms about taking a sharp kitchen knife to the pages of

Count Morin, Deputy cover

a delightfully told political fable.

It is always interesting to speculate on who has read an old book, or indeed whether it has been read at all. In the old days when books were still well made to last, the pages were often joined at the edges and required cutting, as indicated above, in order to read them. So, if, as in this 1921 publication, you found uncut pages, you knew no-one else’s fingers had left their marks on the virginal leaves. It is such a pleasure to know that you were the first, and gives you a responsibility to take great care of your chosen treasure.

Although this slender little volume from The Bodley Head is illustrated throughout, I have chosen to restrain any impulse to scan the internal pages; because straining the spine to flatten the book in the scanner seems too high a price to pay; and because the woodcuts don’t appeal to me, as they display the heaviness I associate with Black Forest carving, thus denying the elegance of the text in translation by J. Lewis May.

Wood Pigeon and Owl

Without our double glazing I may have been able to eavesdrop on this avian conversation through the sitting room window.

My contribution to the general garden maintenance of the day was to hold the steps and otherwise assist The Head Gardener in retraining clematises at the front.

Jackie reflected training clematis

This photograph was executed with one hand on the steps, and the other on the camera.


Clematises such as this one don’t yet need such mountaineering feats to support them;

Violas in hanging basket

and the hanging baskets are within easy reach.

Bird's nest

While tidying her containers behind the shed, Jackie has found a nest from which the chicks have hedged and flown without our knowing it was there.


She has also found the thalictrum’s true element in the Cryptomeria Bed.

Shady Path

Visible in the Dragon Bed in the centre of this Shady Path view,


we have a new peony bloom.

Phantom Path

This view along The Phantom Path leads us to the Rose Garden,

Rose Garden entrance

up the entrance of which Madame Alfred Carière and Summer Wine are speedily making their way;

Rose Jacqueline du Pré

and within, Jacqueline du Pré displays various stages of life.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi with egg fried rice. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Fleurie.