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

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.

Something About Eve


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’


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.


Magic And Witchcraft

Technology is fine when it works, but you really can’t trust it. Yesterday I discovered that O’Neill Patient had never received my complaints letter. Having paid the extra fee for tracking and recording delivery, it never occurred to me that I would not get what I had paid for. When the Royal Mail website indicated that the letter had been posted, but not that it had been delivered, it was with some difficulty that I found a telephone number which I rang, in the hope of speaking to a person. Of course I got a machine giving options which didn’t quite cover my situation. This meant waiting for an adviser and listening to music for 16 minutes. The person who eventually came on the line advised me, with profuse apologies, that the package had neither been delivered nor retained. I could claim compensation if there was anything valuable inside. I said I didn’t think they would compensate me for embarrassment, and I couldn’t  be bothered to claim back the postage. I e-mailed a copy of the letter to the solicitor.

Early this morning the solicitor phoned me to check that I had received his e-mail saying he had never received the letter. I replied that I had, and that I had e-mailed a copy. He had never received that e-mail. I sent it again. It bounced back. Eventually he did receive it, but couldn’t open the attachment because it was an iMac document and they run on Windows. He passed it to his IT team to see if they could convert it. They couldn’t.

Becky entered the fray and learned that in my earliest mail I had misspelled the firm’s name. She then sent the letter as a PDF document and Mr Bourke received and acknowledged it.

While I was in the mood, I telephoned BT sales department concerning our constant interruption of Broadband connection. I asked for an engineer visit. It was two hours before one was booked. Two hours spent on the telephone.

I went through the history of our problems with the first man. He tried to sell me Fibreoptic Infinity. I gave him the story of one of his predecessors assuring me, despite my questioning it, having sold me it. This had resulted in 5 different engineer visits. Only on the fifth was I informed that we were too far from the cabinet from which supply is transferred. We returned to the older system. He said he wasn’t technical and would transfer me to someone who could help. “Please don’t send me to India and have me put through checks I have carried out numerous times before”, I asked. He said he wouldn’t. With no further contact he sent me to India.

I was then subjected to the whole array of usual checks. Since the woman was very polite and patient, I was the same with her. I did, however, stating that I didn’t like saying so because I did not want to be rude, mention that her accent was a problem, for example when she asked me to take the plug out of the “ello” port on the back of the hub, I struggled to realise that she meant “yellow”. As a non-technical person, I had been seeking L O.

She also spoke about superfast broadband. Once more I carefully explained our experience with that. After 25 minutes she said that our contract only allowed for 1 megabyte, so we needed to increase this. She then wanted to do more tests which I declined when she assured me that the increase could be arranged with the old type of cable. There is now no doubt that something had been lost in translation.

Back I went to the sales department. The conversation I’d had with the previous adviser was repeated almost word for word, except that he said I would need superfast cable. He then offered to transfer me to a technician. I insisted it should be someone in England. He complied with this, and gave me the number to which he was referring me.

An English technician ran the checks and called me back when she had finished. She said that the usual tolerance they work to is 4 drops a day. We have 92. An engineer has been booked for the 18th. If it turns out to be our equipment that is at fault it will cost me £130. That was not the case the last time engineers visited. Fingers crossed.

Well, that took care of the morning.

What better antidote to wrestling with the 21st Century mystifying technical progress than to lose myself in a book first published in 1921, relating a mystical story set in the thirteenth century – publication before the internet was invented, and taking us back to a time when even printing itself had not been invented.

This afternoon I finished another book by James Branch Cabell illustrated by Frank C, Papé. This was the Bodley Head 1925 edition enhanced by Papé’s illustrations.

The work is ‘Figures of Earth – a Comedy of Appearances’.  Although containing some beautifully poetic descriptive passages this rather picaresque fantasy novel to my mind lacks cohesive direction. The ‘figures’ of the title provides an intriguing wordplay device for tracking the main protagonist’s journey through a life concertinaed by magic and witchcraft.  Manuel is dominated by his desires prompting him to make unwise choices. He suffers from the rather common ailment of attainment providing less satisfaction than the thrill of the search. As usual I will not betray the story. The are five sections to the tale, each one dedicated to a different literary friend who defended him against the charge of obscenity brought against his earlier novel, Jurgen. Perhaps the stork depicted in a couple of the images below was a an attempt to avoid further controversy.

Although the author clearly has his tongue in cheek, this novel lacks the lightness of touch demonstrated in ‘Domnei’, highlighted above. As always, Papé is in tune with Cabell, and produces brilliant illustrations. There are vignettes throughout and decorations on each dedication page.

I have chosen to feature the twelve main illustrations, and would draw attention to the way in which the artist depicts perspective by lightening his line where appropriate.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jafrezi, pilau rice and vegetable samosas. I drank more of the Malbec.


The Age Of Chivalry


Raindrops on window

Today began with leaden skies and raindrops on windows.

Garden through rainy window

Even owls, dripped on from branches above,  peered enviously inside.

Late this afternoon, when the rain had desisted somewhat, we took a car load of rubbish, that we had ourselves recycled once or twice already, to Efford Recycling Centre; and returned with two mirrors for the garden, a bar stool, and a Chinese rug.

Back in the early 1970s, I discovered the English book illustrator Frank C. Papé, and,  through him, the American writer, James Branch Cabell, in the illustrated editions produced by The Bodley Head in the early 20th century. I have already featured ‘The Cream of the Jest’, and today, as I finished reading ‘Domnei: a Comedy of Woman-Worship’, offer more information on the collaborators.

On the author, Wikipedia tells us:

‘James Branch Cabell (/ˈkæbəl/; April 14, 1879  – May 5, 1958) was an American author of fantasy fiction and belles lettres. Cabell was well regarded by his contemporaries, including H. L. MenckenEdmund Wilson, and Sinclair Lewis. His works were considered escapist and fit well in the culture of the 1920s, when they were most popular. For Cabell, veracity was “the one unpardonable sin, not merely against art, but against human welfare.”[1][2]

Although escapist, Cabell’s works are ironic and satirical. H. L. Mencken disputed Cabell’s claim to romanticism and characterized him as “really the most acidulous of all the anti-romantics. His gaudy heroes … chase dragons precisely as stockbrockers play golf.” Cabell saw art as an escape from life, but once the artist creates his ideal world, he finds that it is made up of the same elements that make the real one.’

There is much more information on his life and works on this link [1]’

Maybe I’m too gullible, but I found this work an enthralling fantasy of an imagined love story from the age of chivalry. There are a number of cynical characters, and we are invited to believe it is based on fragments of a Medieval manuscript. Obviously the source is spurious, and it is perhaps significant that the only uncut pages are the last two of the alleged bibliography. Nevertheless the romantic in me was enjoyably engaged with this readable story, details of which I will not reveal. The language is of the writer’s time, yet following the form of a 14th century geste. The descriptions of the natural world are beautifully done.

The artist is perfectly in tune with the writer, Clicking on the numbered highlight in the following paragraph will take you to the fuller Wikipedia page about him.

‘Frank Cheyne Papé, who generally signed himself Frank C. Papé (b. Camberwell, July 4, 1878 – d. Bedford, May 5, 1972) was an English artist and book illustrator. He studied at The Slade School of Fine Art, completing his studies circa 1902-04.[1] Papé was married to a fellow Slade student, illustrator Alice Stringer.’

Papé’s distinctive style ensured his popularity in the golden age of book illustration. He has a mastery of line and form.

Domnei, first published in 1913, underwent several revisions before the first illustrated edition of 1930, of which my copy is one.


Of the ten plates protected by tissue sheets, we begin with the frontispiece;


thereafter I have chosen samples of chiaroscuro elegance;


of drollery;


and of excellent composition, with an ability to indicate the effect of passing time on a still beautiful woman. We can well believe this is the lady in the second picture above.


Each of the thirty short chapters is introduced


by a framed picture illustrating its first page.


These are minutely faithful to the text.


I cannot elaborate on this without giving too much away.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s supreme lamb jalfrezi, savoury rice, and vegetable samosas. I finished the malbec.