Folio Archives 104: Chéri by Colette 1963
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Chéri by Colette 1963
This is a beautifully presented little book.
Set in Paris in the decade before the First World War, this risqué short novel describes the decadence, louche behaviour and intrigues of the excessively wealthy. The plot revolves around the intrigues between Chéri, a 20 something playboy; Léa, a mature age courtesan; and Edmée, his young long-suffering wife.
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was a female novelist and Chéri, her first work, was published in French in 1920.
The book appears to have been available in three different coloured artificial silk bindings – dark red, pink or dark green. Mine is the dark red variant. Folio 60 describes a green and black slipcase, but mine is lacking a slipcase, and instead is wrapped in a clear plastic dust jacket (this may have been added by a previous owner). The cover is blocked with a gilt design by Brian Paine. Unusually, there is no introduction. Amazingly, my copy shows no sign of spine fading, so has been carefully kept over the last 55 years.
The endleaves are plain pale pink, and the 160 page book is 22x14.4cm. There are 7 dry-point tipped in etchings by Philippe Jullian. It has been translated by Roger Senhouse.
An index of the other illustrated reviews in the "Folio Archives" series can be viewed here.
Thanks Warwick for your continuing effort providing this library of FS reviews. I read this work (not the Folio edition) only two months ago and thoroughly enjoyed Colette's prose. The binding of this old edition is charming in its simplicity. I have to say though the illustrations chosen by Mr. Ede look awful to my eye. Des chevaux pour des courses as they don't say in France.
I'd always assumed that my pink version was simply an enormously faded copy from the original red. Like >2 cronshaw: I enjoyed the work -- Colette is wonderful -- but I'm not very impressed with the illustrations. In my view the type is also too small, and needlessly so.
I have the green one and slipcased. Agree with the comments about the illustrations.
Just a nitpick, Warwick, but Chéri is Colette's 14th novel. Claudine à l'école was her first, in 1900.
>8 wcarter: not sure why I thought it was number one.
Possibly from Wikipedia? Under the heading "Writing career 1920-1954" they state "In 1920 Colette published Chéri, portraying love between an older woman and a much younger man" which may well suggest it was her first novel. It takes further investigation to unearth the Claudine series, 20 years earlier.
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