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The Blue Jade Library

The Chapel of the Abyss

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1benwaugh
Edited: Mar 2, 2007, 2:26pm Top

In the 1920s, Alfred Knopf publishers undertook the publication of a stable of rare and diverse curiosities in its Blue Jade Library series. Included were works of decadent literature, such as Auguste Villiers de L'Isle-Adam's Sardonic Tales, Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly's The Diaboliques (Dedalus press's recent paperback uses the same translation), Frederick Rolfe's Hadrian VII, and others unclassifiable and non-fiction: The Oriental tales of Marmaduke Pickthall (an apostate Briton-of-the-blood, he also translated the Qur'an into English), Max Havelaar, Or, the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company by Multatuli and Travels in Tartary by the French missionary, Evariste R. Huc, etc.

These volumes are attractively bound (I've not yet found one with a dust jacket) and typically include an introduction by contemporary writers and connoisseurs of the unusual, such as Carl Van Vechten and Edmund Gosse. If anyone has more information on the Blue Jade Library series and the editors and authors involved with it, I encourage you to post or to contact me (I do have a list of the works included in the BJL).

2larrybob
Edited: Jun 6, 2007, 12:44pm Top

In my zine Holy Titclamps I published a piece written by Brian Bouldrey about the Blue Jade Library. The piece had actually originally been published in slightly different form in Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy's little magazine MIRAGE #4 PERIOD(ICAL). The article was very influential on my reading and led me to discover the decadent writers and sparked my interest in Carl Van Vechten and Villiers de l'Isle Adam. The article discusses Baron Corvo and many of the other writers who were part of the Blue Jade Library.

It's still a bit of a mystery as to who actually selected the works for the collection, but it seems that Carl Van Vechten had a lot to do with it, especially considering that James Weldon Johnson's Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, which is not exactly a decadent work like the rest of the library, was reprinted in a Blue Jade Edition.

3benwaugh
Jun 6, 2007, 1:13pm Top

Indeed Larrybob, your magazine, which you kindly forwarded me some years back, put me on to the Blue Jade collection - which I have begun to assemble amongst my havocs (just received Richard Garnett's collection of stories).

There seemed to be a general tend to "libraries" in the 20s, but of the Blue Jade collection stands out, for me at least, as the most ecclectic (saying three hail marys...), curious and aesthetically pleasing of the lot (right now I can only recall the farm-boy/milkmaid plainness of Boni and Liveright).

4readerwoman2
Jul 23, 2010, 10:46am Top

Ben,

I just found this 2007 thread about the Blue Jade Library. I'm seeking a list of the contents and would so appreciate it if you could let me know how I might get a list of the contents. Thank you!!

5elenchus
Jul 23, 2010, 11:24am Top

And if it comes to it, I gently urge you to add a LT Series for the titles for us humble novices to this literature. I'm certainly not a collector but am generally curious about such works.

6sqdancer
Jul 23, 2010, 11:37am Top

>5 elenchus: I gently urge you to add a LT Series for the titles

As interesting as it might be, unless the books are exclusive to that publisher series, it is not appropriate to create a series page for them on LT. The last para of the OP seems to indicate that at least some of the books were reprinted for this publisher series.

7elenchus
Jul 23, 2010, 11:44am Top

Good point. Another example of the need for lists!

8Crypto-Willobie
Jul 24, 2010, 1:52am Top

> 1 (re dust jackets)

Here's a picture of a BJL with a jacket, click to enlarge pic
http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=1383704469&searchurl=bi%3D0...

And here's a much less expensive one that advertises a jacket, though it's not pictured:
http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=1230005648&searchurl=bi%3D0...

9Soukesian
Jul 24, 2010, 10:08am Top

Just realised that my copy of Sardonic Tales is a Blue Jade Library edition, and very handsome it is too. Looks like it would be a nice series to collect - I'd like to know more about it.

10benwaugh
Edited: Jul 25, 2010, 8:35pm Top

Apologies to all (and oddly, there were more than one of you) who had asked me about the titles in Knopf's Blue Jade Library for the tardiness of this reply (was soaking up sun and gin on the Florida gulf and had no use for a pc). Here is the list:

James Morier: The Adventures of Hadji Baba of Ispahan

The Memoirs of Carlo Goldoni

Theophile Gautier: A Romantic in Spain

Martin A.S. Holme: Sir Walter Raleigh

Francis de Quevedo-Villegas: Pablo de Segovia

Auguste Villiers de L'Isle-Adam: Sardonic Tales

Frederick Rolfe: Hadrian the Seventh

Multatuli (Eduard Douwes Dekker): Max Havelaar

The Letters of Abelard and Heloise

Haldane MacFall: The Wooing of Jezebel Pettyfer

Stendhal: The Life of Henri Brulard

A. Kippis: Captain Cook's Voyages

Morley Roberts: Rachel Marr

Marmaduke Pickthall: Said the Fisherman

Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly: The Diaboliques

Richard Garnett: The Twilight of the Gods

James Weldon Johnson: The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Once again, the touchstones are dysfunctional....

11elenchus
Jul 26, 2010, 12:23am Top

Thanks, benwaugh. Hope you avoided also soaking up any detritus from Deepwater Horizon.

12Soukesian
Jul 26, 2010, 6:53am Top

Thanks, Ben - quite a few titles I'd like to pick up in the Blue Jade edition

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