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 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

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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

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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 versions 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.

Something About Eve

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Although enhanced by the skilled, insightful, sometimes scurrilous, illustrations of Frank C. Papé, ‘Something About Eve – A comedy of Fig Leaves’ is not my favourite work of James Branch Cabell. I finished reading it yesterday evening.

I found it rather heavy going. The crossword setter in me was amused by the anagrams of the lands visited by our main protagonist in his journey from naive youth to mature age. These are Caer Omn (Romance), through Dersam (Dreams) and Lytreia (work it out for yourself) to Mispec Moor, where Compromise snags his search for the promised land. Eve comes in many forms, tempting and not so delightful. Gerald Musgrave tries them all in his sometimes thwarted efforts at copulation.

Finally, the book had not engaged me.

As usual the illustrations in this Bodley Head edition consist of tipped in plates, headers, end pieces, and vignettes among the text.

 

The golden engravings on the cover and the end-papers some up the essences of the tale.

I have chosen to present the frontispiece as it stands behind the protective tissue that covers each of these plates, the last of which shows our rake as a young man encountering his older self.

Here are one header and an end piece.

This morning Elizabeth drove us over to Mum’s, where we spent much of the day gardening. Jackie pruned needy shrubs, weeded rampant beds, and cleared the lawn edges, which, with a spade, I relined; Elizabeth cut the grass and tidied more edges.

After this, we repaired to The Wallhampton Arms where we partook of their excellent carvery. Jackie drank Amsrell, Elizabeth, Peroni and I, Flacks bitter.

‘Soul-Contenting Pictures’

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Today’s title comes from James Branch Cabell’s preface to ‘The Silver Stallion, a Comedy of Redemption’, another of the splendid collaborations between the author and his illustrator, Frank C, Papé. This is the first illustrated edition of 1928 published by The Bodley Head.

The work is a splendidly rumbustious picaresque fantasy by a master of his field. This really is an impossibly nonsensical, yet un-put-downable escapade, rendered readable by Cabell’s flowing, poetic prose, full of lovely descriptions, perfectly positioned alliteration, barely concealed wit, and lascivious innuendo – all cleverly reflected in the elegant lines of his elegantly imaginative illustrator. Many of the author’s sentences are lengthy, yet gently undulate for the eyes to scan with no hesitation.

The numerous black and white illustrations consist of introductory pages to each of the ten books in the volume; tipped in plates; and line drawings at the end of each chapter. I have scanned twelve, almost at random.

The detail pays careful attention. How many riders are depicted here? The little boy stands protected among the frightening creatures concealed in the shadows. Can you spot the gaping-mouthed beast fashioned from the rock?

This little end-piece has sweat on the father’s forehead, a button bursting off his trousers, a hole in the boy’s onesie , and a missing shoe. The end of the chapter is repeated in the caption to the first illustration.

Note the protruding toes in this one. The artist portrays fingers and toes with such free-flowing accuracy.

Study the faces here, especially those in the peaks of the waves.

The artist’s take on the writer’s subtle lascivious humour is demonstrated by the young lady’s almost falling out of her sedan chair at the sight of what is suggested by the strategically placed leaf on the man’s shadow.

The paragraph above this end-piece suggests what is depicted in the dark clouds.

Papé’s mastery of line is represented in the two halves of this introduction to Book Five. Facial expressions indicate sanctity and devilry;

similarly the fluidity of his line is apparent in this drawing which captures the angry frustration of a father unable to control his impudently recalcitrant son.

Cross-hatching is used to good effect to provide a dark framework for this fearsome frolic. Look where the winged creature is aiming its sting.

The beauty of this liquid line may cause one to miss the dog’s sad, tearful, face.

The illustrator’s ability to pack immense detail into his frame. You may find much more, but I will draw attention to the wife’s taking on the disturbers of her sleep with fire irons and a broom.

The three faces in this end piece bringing up the rear tell a splendid story. In the form of the building overlooking the arch, Chad puts in an appearance.

Late this afternoon, Jacqueline brought Mum over for dinner. A pleasant evening ensued. Jackie produced vegetable soup; cottage pie with cabbage, carrots, and runner beans; and bread and butter pudding with cream or evaporated milk, according to taste. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, Mum’s choice was orange juice, Jacqueline’s, Ciro Bianco 2017, and Elizabeth’s and mine, Lellei Pinot Noir 2015.