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George Macy devotees

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Apr 30, 2012, 10:03am Top

I just acquired the first (1938) LEC version of Madame Bovary with illustrations by Gunter Böhmer. I already had the later version with Pierre Brissaud's illustrations, and the two books make an interesting contrast. I'll try to take some pictures this week and perhaps either Jerry or Chris would be interested in featuring this comparison on their sites.

Apr 30, 2012, 10:57am Top

1) Sure, I'd love to do that. :) I need to do that with my two Tartuffe editions, actually.

Apr 30, 2012, 2:57pm Top

Would love to get the pictures and colophon info also!

Edited: May 18, 2012, 11:26pm Top

The two books are wildly different. The later version will be preferred by most for size ( a large quarto as I remember), binding ( gold French damask with a white leather label), and the Brissaud water-color illustrations. The 1938 version is much smaller and is bound in a moire silk. The Bohmer illustrations are also much smaller and integrated into text pages. However, it is a nice size for holding while reading, especially in bed. The Brissaud edition is much easier to obtain, and mine is in Fine condition. The silk moire did not weather the years well and is hard to get, if not imppossible, in Fine condition.

I finally found a copy at a very reasonable cost - much less than $50 - and had it rebound in full gold Nigerian goatskin with some minimal gold tooling and hand marbled French end pages. I trimmed back the page edges to remove all dirt and gilded the top edges. Now it is one of my favorite LECs.

May 26, 2012, 8:30pm Top

My recent acquisitions are also pretty much my only acquisitions to date. I did buy a pair of Heritage Press titles (Salome and The Song of Roland) and the LEC Natural History of Selborne a couple of years ago – just because I liked the look of them, not with any real interest in starting a collection. But early this year some inner devil began murmuring that I should abjure the Folio Society and (most of) its works and instead embrace the mysteries of the cult of George Macy.
I'm not quite sure what happened next but I now have:
The Invisible Man
Tartuffe & The Would-Be Gentleman
The Lyrics of François Villon (1933 edition)
Sir Roger De Coverley Papers
Aucassin and Nicolette (the anachronistic illustrations were irresistible)
The Nigger of the Narcissus
South Wind
Richard III
The Life of King Henry the Fifth (the 1951 non-series edition)
Man and Superman
Two Plays for Puritans
Two Mediaeval Tales
The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch And Judy
Heritage Press/Heritage Club
The Canterbury Tales (with Sandglass)
History of Henry Esmond (with Sandglass)
The Beggar's Opera
A Shropshire Lad (not, alas one of the specials!)
Swiss Family Robinson
The Gallic Wars
Green Mansions
Bhagavad Gita (with Sandglass)
The Book of Ballads
Far From the Madding Crowd
Montaigne's Essays

May 26, 2012, 9:50pm Top

>5 featherwate:

You do have the bug! Great acquisitions--I'm very surprised you found a Punch and Judy as I looked years before finally finding one that cost me, if not an arm and a leg, several fingers and toes.

You're the second person who has commented favorably on the Art Deco-esque Aucassin and Nicolette, which I've always thought was a wonderful edition, pace George Macy. The first time I saw it I had to have it, and despite the fact I own a very medieval-looking edition published by Harrap with illuminations by Evelyn Paul, who did the La Vita Nuova that I cherish, I have never seen an Aucassin I would rather have. Really a masterpiece.

May 26, 2012, 10:35pm Top

> 6 I struck lucky with the Punch & Judy - a very good copy from a UK bookseller at a reasonable price and low postage. Downside: it lacks the slip-case (so I'd like to upgrade one day) but it has the glassine wrap and the chemise.

May 26, 2012, 11:40pm Top

I have just received the 1930 Tartuffe. It is in excellent condition and I find it an extraordinarily pleasing volume, the Steiner-Prag illustrations are amusing and I am able to read it without glasses, so generous and clear is the font. In the reissue of 1963 no mention is made of the earlier version, perhaps the verse translation was considered a bit creaky? I am missing the Monthly Letter for 1930 - if anyone has it for a dropbox upload that would be fantastic.

I was interested in book initially because it was printed here in Germany, Leipzig in fact where one of my sons is at University. Now I expect I shall have to hunt down a 'Four Gospels' to complement it. As far as I can see other Germanic productions are limited to Zurich, where were made Mme Bovary, William Tell and The Marble Faun. Have I missed a printer or a location?

May 27, 2012, 12:48am Top

>8 starkimarki: Have I missed a printer or a location?

The 1931 edition of Selected Tales from the Brother's Grimm was printed by Wilhelm Gerstung at Offenbach-am-Rhein.

I'll try to get the 1930 Tartuffe Monthly Letter uploaded over the next day or two.

As far as translations go, I think that the 1908 verse translation by Page was highly regarded at the time for its scholarship and its attempt to catch some of the religious undertones in the play--but it's not very funny. The version used in the 1963 edition is the 18th century prose version by Baker and Miller--which is funny, but perhaps at the expense of the complexity of the social satire. I read their translation of Le Bourgeois gentilhomme in college and loved it (still do). Translations are tricky at best, so I tend to stick with the ones most enjoyable to read--but the 1931 Tartuffe is a joy to read and feel (the paper is marvelous!)

May 27, 2012, 2:44am Top

>5 featherwate: Dear Featherwate, oh I do so believe that you should parcel up all those fusty old Folios in Waitrose bags for Oxfam and make room for 550 or so LECs. Folios can't remotely compete with LECs for sheer romance. Open a page of the LEC De Quincey and you are transported to Oxford before the war, where you rub shoulders with the scholar typoghrapher Bernard Newdigate and pay homage to the electrifying Zhenya Gay on the Pacific shore. Or open a page of Beggar's Opera and smell the tang of Paris in 1937, where the smouldering Mariette Lydis sloughs off Count Gavone and finds exile eventually in Buenos Aires. Or open Tartuffe and be transported to 1930s Leipzig, typographical centre of excellence, and tremble with Steiner-Prag in the years following as he keeps one step ahead of the Nazis. And behind them all the restless genius of Macy ...

May 27, 2012, 9:24am Top

9) I'd appreciate that Tartuffe letter, too. :) It remains one of my favorite books. Should read it one day.

10) Ah, pure poetry spilled over our lovely habit. ^_^

May 27, 2012, 11:14pm Top

>8 starkimarki:, >11 WildcatJF:

I uploaded the 1931 Tartuffe Month Letter to the Dropbox (I hope); Jerry, if you don't see it there please let me know and I will e-mail it to you to upload (I use Dropbox so little I forget how it works).

May 27, 2012, 11:24pm Top

>10 SophyWestern:

I see Miss Western's got it bad as well.

I admit I have gotten rather obsessive myself over some of these artists--especially Mariette Lydis, who in addition to being a great illustrator, was apparently worthy of a book herself (illustrated by herself, of course). One day the Lotto gods may smile upon me and one of my first purchases will be the 1928 G. Govonne edition of Le fleurs du mal she illustrated. No other illustrated edition, not even the LEC editions by Epstein, Rodin and Tremois, caught the sensual allure of decadence so well.

May 28, 2012, 10:32am Top

12) Thanks! I noticed that yesterday, but at the present time Page 3 is missing.

May 28, 2012, 4:49pm Top

>14 WildcatJF:

I didn't take a picture of that page as it is a sample illustration from the forthcoming The Little Flowers of St. Francis and has nothing about Tartuffe. If I had the Monthly Letter for the St.Francis book--or even better, the book itself!--I would take pictures of those and send them. Is a sample page alone enough?

May 28, 2012, 6:24pm Top

15), Ah, okay. That makes sense. If you're asking me if I want the sample page, no, I don't think I need it. I wouldn't mind looking at it personally, but it doesn't help the blog any.

May 29, 2012, 11:44am Top

It's true, I'm getting more interested in the books from LEC and less enthusiastic about the FS

Edited: May 29, 2012, 6:27pm Top

<13 Yes, infected, I do believe. But luckily (or unluckily) protected from the rampant strain of the disease by penury and astronomical overseas shipping charges.

Mariette Lydis illustrated an editon of The Turn of the Screw printed in 1940 in 200 copies by the Hand and Flower Press established by her lover Erica Marx after they fled Paris - I wonder if anyone has seen this? do the illustrations differ from the later LEC edition, I wonder?

May 29, 2012, 6:38pm Top

>13 Django6924: Yes, infected, I do believe so. But luckily (or unluckily) protected from the rampant strain of the disease by penury and overseas shipping charges.

I have often wondered how the edition of The Turn of the Screw that Lydis illustrated for the Hand and Flower Press in 1940 (its first publication, in only 200 copies) differs from her illustrations for the later LEC edition.

May 29, 2012, 8:43pm Top

> 17 Ditto.

May 30, 2012, 12:45am Top

>19 SophyWestern: "I have often wondered how the edition of The Turn of the Screw that Lydis illustrated for the Hand and Flower Press in 1940 (its first publication, in only 200 copies) differs from her illustrations for the later LEC edition."

I can, alas, give you only an incomplete answer to your question, which I have also pondered since learning of the earlier set of illustrations:

First of all, the LEC has twice as many illustrations--12. I have never seen a copy of the Hand & Flower Press's version, so I can't tell you which subjects were added for the LEC version. But there are apparently no duplicates. Apparently Macy was in London after WW II looking for new books and finding few; however, one he found at the Bumpus Shop in Oxford Street was the new H&F Press The Turn of the Screw, and he was struck immediately by the illustrations--"They seemed to us the first successful illustrations for The Turn of the Screw we had ever seen." Returning to the US, Macy sent a letter to the Hand & Flower proposing they license the illustrations to the LEC for use in its own version. Macy had been an early advocate of Lydis' work and though it was "not our usual procedure to use another publisher's illustrations...we did not know where we could turn to get an equally successful set" and, since the Hand & Flower edition was so limited (200 copies) and already sold out, there could be no real risk of competition. The Hand & Flower agreed, and permitted the use, providing Macy secured the approval of Ms. Lydis, who had fallen below the LEC radar in the chaotic wartime situation and was now in Buenos Aires. Let George Macy tell the rest of the story (this from my Sandglass):

Thereupon we wrote to Mariette Lydis in Buenos Aires, and a most interesting conversation ensued: during the course of which she insisted she could improve upon the drawings she had made in 1940 and she would rather make an entirely new set of illustrations than give us permission to make use of the old set.

And so it came to pass. Again, I haven't seen the very limited H&F version, but I have seen one of the illustrations online(probably cut from the book by some biblioghoul masquerading as an "art dealer"). It is the same subject matter as the LEC illustration, "Mrs. Grose was for the time superintendent to the little girl." The subject matter is the same, but the treatment in the LEC version is so far superior that one might almost suspect the two were done by different artists. The H&F version is somewhat bland in a second-rate Mary Cassatt sort of way, while the LEC has those qualities of character interpretation and a knack for the sinister that is so much what we have come to expect of Lydis. The earlier Mrs. Grose is soft and rounded and almost somnolent, and Flora has a blank look of innocence--both are looking off at something out of frame on the left. In the LEC version, Mrs. Grose's features are angular, with a half-amused smile and look of practical self-confidence. Flora has a half-smile, too, but she is looking directly at us--and her full, sensual lips suggest a disturbing eroticism. Her smile is the same as the smile on Suky Tawdry in Lydis' illustrations for The Beggar's Opera, the same as the smile on several of the nude nymphs in her illustrations for Les Fleurs du mal, and as in several examples of her erotic art. (I almost suspect it is a self-portrait of the artist's own smile.) When she said she could improve on her earlier work, I have to believe she wasn't just angling for a fresh commission. These are brilliant illustrations, in technique and even more in their deep understanding of the story.

May 30, 2012, 5:56pm Top

>21 Django6924: Thank you so much, that is wonderfully informative.

Jun 1, 2012, 8:04pm Top

Just received my 100th LEC - The Man of Property from Bill Majure. I purchased my first LEC On the Nature of Things on 4/30/2009, so it's taken a little over three years to get this far. My oldest LEC is from 1930, the newest from 1987, cheapest $19 and the dearest $300 with a median of $45.

Jun 2, 2012, 4:14pm Top

Only slightly over 400 to go, Ken.

Jun 27, 2012, 9:25am Top

Received today the Don quixote from 1933 with the glassines intact and Gargantua and pantagruel. Both are gorgeous, im happy.

The don quixote has loose sheets in front of the illustrations, which have offset on the sheets.
Not sure if these were standard but they seem to have done there job of protecting the text.

Jun 27, 2012, 11:56am Top

The sheets were standard. I have two copies of this work and both have the sheets (and both have protected the pages from offsetting from the very heavily inked illustrations), which are indeed marvelous. I wish he had done even more of them!

Aug 30, 2012, 5:02am Top

To bring some life back to this thread,
I'm happy to receive today a fine condition brothers karamazov with Alexander king illustrations. The books still have it's pages uncut.
Couldn't believe this find until I opened the package.

Aug 30, 2012, 12:09pm Top

So I recently moved to Toronto and I've been united with a number of books that I've bought recently and had shipped here. Here are some of the LEC ones:

Edited: Aug 31, 2012, 1:13am Top

>27 Virion:

Congratulations, Virion--I love that edition (even more than the later Eichenberg-illustrated edition).

>28 tag83:

The condition of your books looks marvelous, tag83--even the Treasure Island looks almost like new--amazing for a 70+ year-old book!

To keep the thread going, I just bought, almost against my better judgement, I book I have wanted a long time--the LEC Faust. I put this off a long time because of Macy's oft-stated disappointment with Clarke's illustrations, but when I saw one reproduced on a website one time, I was quite taken. Clarke's visualizations may not be as idiomatic as Delacroix's, but I think they are quite striking and original. (And the price was less than that of any of the new books from the Folio Society's 2013 season.)

Edited: Sep 2, 2012, 1:27pm Top

>28 tag83:
I keep the backs of the books away from exposure to the light (Sun), and it will save you the "fried back" problems in future.

Sep 2, 2012, 11:27pm Top

Thanks Django. I do have some others that aren't in as great condition that haven't been places in my shelves as yet, so Im guilty of showing off only the best ones. I was eventually disappointed with myself for acquiring the other ones when I compare them to the ones that are still on really great shape, so my requirements for purchases have increased.

Sky, great idea, thanks.

Edited: Sep 23, 2012, 1:02am Top

Traded in the pile of Heritage books left over from my library acquisition among many others, and snagged these today:

The Torrents of Spring by Turgerev ($25, complete) - That makes my collection a nice round 20. Alas, I discovered today that my favorite shop is closing and I had no cash to partake in their sale. *sigh* I'll be giving them a call to see if I can figure out some way to get some of their stock.

Swiss Family Robinson by Wyss
The Jungle Books by Kipling
The Scarlet Letter by Hawthrone (not the special one)
Twice-Told Tales by Hawthrone
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Verne

All with slipcases and in great shape, but I don't think any of them came with Sandglasses. :( Ah well. They are all books I wanted to read, so no worries.

Sep 23, 2012, 5:54am Top

Received few days back:

Leopold Senghor: Poems, 1996
Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher, 1985, signed by Soyer and Neel.
Dürrenmatt: Oedipus, 1989.

I have to say that I am still in the chock of unwrapping the Poems by Senghor. 22 x 17 (roughly 60 x 40 cm).
Not much text, but worth every square meters of paper!

Edited: Jun 14, 2013, 10:59am Top

The Travels of Lemuel Gulliver, 1929. Pleased to have the first LEC; because holding it you feel directly in touch with George Macy at a crucial moment in his life.
Tartarin of Tarascon, 1930. Two Lilliputian volumes! (only 6" high). Preserved in fine condition by their slipcase having been stored spine out - its label has almost wholly faded.
The Travels of Marco Polo, 1934. Another well-cared-for set: two smallish volumes in fine condition in a slipcase with a barely faded if slightly grubby label. Masses of tiny illustrations by Nikolai Fyodorovitch Lapshin. Their arrival was memorably described by George Macy: These delicately-colored, quickly-drawn, suggestive little drawings came to us on small bits of news-print in a dirty little envelope.
The Compleat Angler, 1938. A Heritage Club edition of a 1936 dual Nonesuch Press- Heritage Press edition. (Both editions share the same artist, Robert Ball, but have their own copyright dates.) Nonesuch had published a different Compleat Angler only a few years before, co-illustrated by Charles Sigrist and the erotic artist Thomas 'Tom' Poulton (presumably in non-erotic mode, or the book would be even more expensive than it is).
The Compleat Angler, 1948. A Heritage Press edition of the same year's LEC original, illustrated by Douglas Gorsline. His large copperplate engravings are exquisite.
The Poems of William Shakespeare, 1969 HP edition of the 1967 LEC original, designed, like the other volumes in the British Poets series, by the LEC's European representative John Dreyfus, typographical designer at the Cambridge University Press (where the book was produced and printed). The illustrator is Agnes Miller Parker, who also collaborated with Dreyfus on the Thomas Hardy series.
(I bought the Shakespeare poems from someone who actually shared a room with John Dreyfus at the CUP between 1967 and 1970. Sadly he didn't get his copy signed!)

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