The Riviera Revisited (1939)

FullSizeRenderFound — a 30 page holiday brochure by Charles Graves – The Riviera Revisited. [London], [1939]. Probably written in 1938 and portraying a relaxed lifestyle, with plenty of good food and booze. Olive oil is not recommended as sun protection! After WW2 Charles Graves wrote 2 longer books on the Riviera – The Royal Riviera and (again) The Riviera Revisited… The picture of bathers at Eden Roc is from the booklet.

A Summer’s Day.

Juan-Les-Pins is the only resort I have ever visited four years in succession. I can think of no greater compliment. It has an admirable beach. It has a summer and winter season, like practically every other place on the Riviera. But whereas six or seven years ago the clientele was mainly English and American, it is now largely French, which I find charming. Somehow the prettiest girls from Paris go there for their summer holidays, and the restaurant of the casino has indubitably the best hors-d oeuvres in the world. The man who makes them is worth a fortune to any London restaurant or hotel. He stuffs everything with everything else. Pimentoes, aubergines, sardines, olives, tunny fish and so on. The casino is famous for the light-hearted character of its gambling. In the summer you wear white flannels or anything else. The croupiers smile (a distinct rarity). The champagne cocktails are first-class. The lobsters are as fresh as God made them; so are the crayfish. Let me quote from “And the Greeks”: Continue reading

A Parisian Aladdin’s Cave of Children’s Books

Found in a small magazine/ booklet published in Edinburgh 1953.
COLLECTORS ITEMS A BIBLIO-TYPOGRAPHICAL MISCELLANY (No. 2, Vol. 1) this piece on Gumuchian – a collector and dealer in children’s books (now a hot collecting area.) His book Les Livres de L’Enfance (Paris, 1930) is still in print (Holland Press modern reprint, right.) Originals are seldom under 1000 euros.

A Parisian Aladdin’s Cave of Children Books

Short and bearded, and somewhat like Tolous-Lautrec in appearance, Victor Gumuchian was one of the great booksellers of the past fifty years. Gumuchian will probably be known for posterity by his immense two volume catalogue of children’s books, “Les Livres de l’Enfance de XVe au XIXe Siecle,” which he published in 1930. But apart from hi knowledge of juvenile literature, he was a great authority on old buildings and books relating to flying and locomotion. He was a man He was a man of erudition, wide knowledge and versatility. A great traveller and linguist, as well as a writer and dramatist, he was also gourmet and a cook of rare quality. He knew where the best food could be eaten in Paris, or, in fact, anywhere in France.

 How well I remember my first visit to his bookshop in the Rue Richelieu in Paris. A small window, with perhaps a dozen or two rare books on show; inside, a somewhat dull room, lined with glass covered book shelves full of uncommon and interesting books of all centres. At the end of the room was a small door through which he took me, up a dark winding staircase, such as is only possible in Paris, to a door in the first floor. This he unlocked, and switched on the electric light… I was in an Aladdin’s Cave! There were three rooms, leading one into the other, with thousands of children’s books, all in perfect condition, arranged to show the beautiful points of as many as possible, whether an illustration, a binding, or a page of superb typography. These books were the fruit of his three years’ collecting, and the basis of his great catalogue. I was dumbfounded at what I saw. I had never seen, nor shall I ever see again, such a galaxy of treasures: all so beautifully arranged and delighted displayed. From that moment I became, not an enthusiast, but a fanatic – and have remained so to this day.

M. Gumuchian died in America in 1949, after a series of great misfortunes and after a long illness that caused him much suffering.

A rare friend whom I can never forget.

Group Captain F.C. “Griff” Griffiths and the Maquis

71wD8UA294LFound loosely inserted in his book Winged Hours this account by Group Captain F.C. “Griff” Griffiths (1913-1996) of his time in France with the Maquis and his attempts after the war to trace members of the French Resistance who had helped him escape. In April 1943, Frank Griffiths, then a Squadron Leader, was posted to No. 138 Special Duty Squadron to take part in SOE ‘drops’ taking men and supplies to resistance organisations in occupied Europe. On the night of the 14/15 August 1943 his Halifax aircraft serial JD180 was brought down when flying low over Annecy (near the French/Swiss border) by small arms fire from an Italian Alpini corporal. He was one of two survivors and escaped his Italian captors and was subsequently sheltered by the Maquis and eventually escaped over the border to Switzerland, returning to England around Christmas 1943. The problem with tracing his brave saviours after the war was that none of them had used their real names…

PYRENEAN PICNIC

One of the sad things about Escaping/Evading experiences is that to protect our helpers we did not wish to know their real names or to remember addresses. We thus failed to make contact with many of them after the war.

For over 43 years I endeavoured to trace a helper with whom I had formed a strong rapport. All I knew of him was that his name was “Antoine” (obviously a nom de guerre) and that his French was difficult to understand because he was a Catalan.

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Leon Gambetta’s crisis

Leon Gambetta—‘ the grand orateur et homme d’Etat’.

So reads the printed label stuck on the back of this carte de visite by a French dealer sometime early in the twentieth century. It is indeed a ‘ curieuse piece ‘, as the dealer avers. Gambetta has addressed in pencil, above his printed name, the following remark to an unidentified friend or colleague:

‘Le crise dures toujours, impossible de mettre le nez dehors…’
(The crisis is lasting for ages, impossible to stick ones nose outside…)

Historians might debate what crisis Gambetta is referring to. There were doubtless several in the tempestuous political career of one of France’s greatest heroes. But the date of 12th December that Gambetta adds at the end of his message might offer a clue. In Paris from 23rd November to 15th December 1877 the improbably named President McMahon presided over a ministry that excluded all ‘parliamentary hands‘ like Gambetta and his democratic colleagues. During this period it was felt that MacMahon was planning a coup d’etat and this crisis came to a head around December 10th and 11th. The idea was to deny power to Gambetta, who may have felt that his life was in danger during this time. Excluding Gambetta worked for a few years, but eventually, in 1881, he was asked to form a ministry. This lasted for just 66 days.

Around late November 1882 Gambetta was shot in the stomach, but this was an accident. However, it may have contributed to the stomach cancer that eventually claimed his life, on 31st December 1882.

[R.R.]  

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Revolution of the Word – Modernist Manifesto

Found in Transition 16-17 (a double issue that appeared in June 1929 in Paris) this modernist manifesto/ proclamation…some of the signers like Harry Crosby, Eugene Jolas (Transition's editor) Kay Boyle, Hart Crane are well known and some like Leigh Hoffman and Douglas Rigby are almost unknown.

PROCLAMATION
Tired of the spectacle of short stories, novels, poems and plays still under the hegemony of the banal word, monotonous syntax, static psychology, descriptive naturalism, and desirous of crystallizing a viewpoint….
We hereby declare that:

1. The revolution in the English Language is an accomplished fact.

2. The imagination in search of a fabulous world is autonomous and unconfined.
(Prudence is a rich, ugly old maid courted by Incapacity…. Blake)

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A Bibliomaniac of the Boulevards 2

Jules Bollly (merci)

The five volume  auction catalogue of Boulard's vast collection showed up in auction at Christies New York in 2005. It made $5750. It does not appear to have ever left the book trade - possibly book dealers are almost the only collectors for them - and the exact same set is now on sale online at $20000. Christie's catalogue entry is below. It should be noted that Boulard was also a distinguished translator - the French Wikipedia list many of his works (they put the size of his book collection at a mere 500,000.) He translated works from English (including much Dr. Johnson) Italian, German and Latin and also translated from French into German. During the revolutionary period publisher's note him as 'Citoyen Boulard.' Lawrence S. Thompson in his Notes on Bibliokleptomania, without much evidence, writes that Boulard "...had 'itchy fingers' whenever he saw a volume that could not be bought and excited the acquisitive instincts in him." Another interesting note of Thompson's is that '…when the collection was auctioned off in 1828-1833, it played havoc with the Paris market.' One wonders how long it took to recover and if such a thing could happen again in these less resilient times (for books) - if another Boulard style estate emerged out of Los Angeles or London with half a million good books the effect could be seismic…especially if, as happens, yet another collection emerged shortly after.   Nodier (that man again - note his mention of underbidding) gives this eyewitness account of the perils of bibliomania:

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A Bibliomaniac of the Boulevards 1

Max Sander's article Bibliomania, freely available from Northwestern University School of Law Scholarly Commons, yielded the gripping tale of the murderous monk/ bookseller Don Vincente (see recent jots) . He talks of other crazed collectors including the English bibliomaniac Richard Heber who filled 8 houses with books, but for all his acquisitiveness was a discerning collector. The sale of his books took 184 days. The following collector, Boulard, was very much of a quantity man and may have accumulated more books than any individual in the history of the world - 800,000 by some accounts and half that by others… the sale of his books took 248 days.150,000 were sold as scrap. Sander writes:

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A Bibliomaniac Serial Killer 2

Charles Nodier

Last part of this thrill-packed  piece on murder, mayhem, obsession, vengeance and book collecting. Slight doubt is cast on this (incredible) event. The story has inspired a wealth of articles and books from Flaubert right up to Basbanes. However, in 1928 a book appeared in Spain written by bibliophile and author Ramon Miquel I Planas (1874-1950) seeking to rectify the story of Don Vincente and arguing that the anonymous article in  La Gazette des Tribunaux (Paris 1837which had informed the world of the murders had no basis in fact. **Planas argued that the article had been written by French occultist (Priory of Sion) author and librarian Charles Nodier, (1780-1844), most known for his influence on the French Romantics. He found that Don Vincente’s crime does not appear in any local newspapers of the time, that there was no monk by the name of Fra Vincentes at Poblet at the time of its closure, and that the local ‘colour’ does not ring true. Planas's theories have also been later disputed..but if Nodier was  the original author, it should be noted that it was rumoured that he had killed a man for outbidding him at auction during one of his trips to Spain.

The account, indeed, does have a slight air of legend about it - especially the part about each victim returning with alacrity  to the shop to report a missing leaf…booksellers will tell you that often  a missing page is not discovered for years. What does ring true is the murderous anger of the person outbid (almost as deadly as the ire of the person who has been relentlessly bid up to way beyond the price that they had intended to pay. Pace Nodier.) The fetish / obsession about uniqueness is also familiar in rare bookselling lore..The bookseller  'unwilling to part with all but the cheapest of his stock' and who keeps every good book he ever gets (or prices them so high that only a very rich madman would buy ) is also an all too familiar type in life and legend and one who is still with us online and in the cloud…

** This part is in the debt of the ARCA Crimes against Art blog where there are more info and links/ footnotes on the case.

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A Bibliomaniac Serial Killer 1

Furs et Ordinaciones, Valencia 1482

This is an oft told tale of book madness and murder. It has elements that ring true and also mythic elements. It inspired the young Flaubert's 1838 novella Bibliomania. This version comes from the unrecorded scholar Max Sander's article Bibliomania,   freely available from Northwestern University School of Law Scholarly Commons. It was published in a criminal law journal in 1943. Sander, a 'scholar specialising  in bibliographical-iconographicaI research work' gave his address as The Huntington Hotel, Pasadena, California. See part two for an update and queries on this story...

...As a young man, Don Vincente was a monk in the Cisterciens cloister Poblet near Tarragona, and because of his passion for books he was made keeper of the cloister's valuable library. During a political disturbance of the time the cloister was pillaged, and there was good reason to believe that Don Vincente had been familiar with the plunderers. It was hinted that he had shown them the place where the cloister's gold and silver treasures were hidden, in order to secure precious books for himself. Be that as it may, he went to Barcelona and opened a bookshop with a remarkable stock of rare books, which was patronized by all collectors although he almost never sold a really important item. His frugal livelihood and small business expenses could be covered by selling cheaper stock. He was never seen reading a book; only to own them and look at them, to turn over their leaves was of interest to him. When he had a chance to buy a precious book, he was obliged to sell something more substantial from his beloved stock, but even then the buyer almost had to wrench away his acquisition before Don Vincente reluctantly parted with it.

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Hope Mirrlees ‘Paris’ 1919

Hope Mirrlees. Paris. (Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, Richmond 1919-1920)

The rediscovery of the Scottish writer Hope Mirrlees (1887 – 1978) may be principally due to the merits of her one masterpiece, the long poem Paris, which the Woolfs published in 1920. Only 175 copies of the 600 line poem were produced, which means that it now belongs with Pound’s early privately printed work as a true rara avis of modernism. In 2011 a dealer had a superb copy for $8,000 which has now sold. Predictably, critics today use the modish term 'psychogeographical' to describe the poem, which is a daring, impressionistic tour in French and English through the French capital and has been described as the 'missing link between French avant-garde poetry and The Waste Land.' The stylistic parallels are obvious, and the influences of Pound and other Imagists, are noticeable too:-

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Djuna Barnes ‘The Ladies Almanack’ (1928)

Found in one of our catalogues from 2002 a very limited and exquisite edition of Djuna Barnes's The Ladies Almanack. It was found by Martin Stone in Paris and was catalogued by him for us. It sold fairly easily to a high end London dealer for £5000.

Djuna Barnes 'The Ladies Almanack' (Privately published, Paris 1928)

Small 4to.  pp 80. Illustrated. Number 4 of  10 copies on Verge de Vidalon with illustrations hand coloured by Djuna Barnes. The  complete first edition  was 1050 copies  In full vellum wraps with highly attractive hand coloured cover. Signed on the limitation page in Djuna Barnes hand as 'A Lady of Fashion' and also on fep presented  to Lady Rothermere signed  'Djuna Barnes, Paris 1928.' Lady Rothermere was married to the press baron Viscount Rothermere (Lord Harmsworth) and was  the patron of various writers most notably T.S. Eliot who was able to give up his bank job due to her financial assistance. 'Ladies Almanack'  was printed by Darantiere in Dijon and has a curious publishing history - it was originally to be published by Edward Titus at the Black Manikin Press in Paris. However when Djuna Barnes found out how much Titus was charging her she decided to publish and distribute the book herself with financial help from Robert McAlmon. The name Edward Titus is blacked out on the title page in all copies. The ordinary edition was $10, the hand coloured one of 40  $25 and the ten hand coloured and signed copies were $50 a sizeable sum in 1928. The work, a celebration of female sexuality and a rebuke to heterosexual patriarchy, portrays in disguised form, many of the cultural and artistic elite of the Parisian avant garde of the time- epecially the Lesbian circle which was gathered around Natalie Clifford Barney - Janet Flanner, Romaine Brooks, Solita Solano, Dolly Wilde ('Doll Furious') Lady Una Troubridge ('Lady Tilly Tweed-in-Blood') and Radclyffe Hall. Janet Flanner called her 'the most important woman writer we had in Paris.' In fine  fresh condition - an exemplary copy of this beautiful expatriate book; in tirage de tete the black orchid of Lesbian literature.

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Ponge’s Museum of Street Cries

Found - an American press cutting from Adams County News April 1914:

Armed with a recording gramophone, M. Ponge, a schoolmaster in Paris, spends his leisure hours lying in wait for street cries in populous quarters. He is preparing a museum of speech, which he will leave behind him for the instruction of future ages. When he hears the Parisian equivalent of 'Milk' or muffin man, he pounces on them and compels them to sing or ring bells into his receiver. He has already collected most of the well-known street cries.

The story appeared in British and American newspapers between 1911 and 1914 in various forms, The Daily Telegraph's Paris correspondent even specifying that he had recorded the Parisian flower men selling mimosas and 'the shrill  tenor who pieces together again "marble alabaster and porcelain."' One commentator noted '…well every man to his humour; but we are not visiting any museums to hear street cries, thank you.'

Spokane Daily Chronicle Nov 4 1911 reports:

The intention is to obtain registers of all forms of speech in France including the various patois of different regions, villages and cities, and also popular songs and street cries. Among other things registered by M.Ponge are songs of children dancing in circles and the cries of sellers of fish and vegetables, together with the talk going on between sellers and buyers. The museum is to have a scientific character, since microphotographs of the impressions made by the voice in its various forms are to be preserved, and a complete  'phonetic chart' of French vocal utterances is aimed at.

Monsieur Ponge's innovative audio museum appears not to have happened - but we salute him as a far-thinking researcher and hope these sounds are still to be found somewhere.

* Some light googling shows this work by him:Le Musée de la Parole / Alfred Ponge (Michon et Gibeau , Paris 1911). His work seems to have been taken up by Ferdinand Brunot at the University of Paris thanks to support from Pathé.

An early recording session, Germany 1899
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English Books in Paris

Found in a mid 1930s American detective thriller, tipped in at the front (for exchange purposes) this flier for  the Gibert Joseph (or Joseph Gibert) bookshop at 26 Boulevard St. Michel in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. It is still there at the same address with many books in languages other than French. The English language section is adequate but there are few rarities as there were in the past.

The curious thing in this ephemera is the notice 'Free Entrance' -- I can think of only one bookshop in the world that charges entry ($5) and that is run by a much arrested, deranged and violent bookseller in New Hampshire U.S.A. Possibly this is a mistranslation. The phone number has been changed by hand which might enable someone in the know to date it quite accurately. It looks like the 1950s. Until the advent of Shakespeare and Co.,  Gibert was the main source of used English books in Paris. Interestingly it also caters for the four other most wanted languages there, mostly because these are the nearest countries, although there has long been a large Russian community in Paris.

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How to be Happy on the Riviera 4


The concluding part of a posting of a complete book How to be Happy on the Riviera by Robert Elson W. (Arrowsmith Ltd., 11 Quay Street, Bristol, 1927).The appendix has a wealth of information, much of it aimed at the long stay vacationer and the expat or 'remittance man' (similar to the trustafrian of our time). The address and name of the British Consul in Monte Carlo (G W Hogg) the address of the British Library and the Anglo-American Library (in the Grand Hotel building.) There was even a weekly paper for the British abroad,The Cote D'Azur,that came out on a Friday. There is good advice for those who 'winter abroad' -- Hyeres is suggested for those who like it quiet, Monte Carlo for those who want it lively (but the bathing is poor). Also invaluable advice for the journey there, that might still hold true:-
"Don’t trust the time-tables as to there being a restaurant-car on any train southward from Paris (except the Calais–Méditerranée); bring a tea-basket with you and be prepared to grab things from the buffets at the Gare de Lyon and at Marseilles, or you may go foodless."

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How to be Happy on the Riviera 3

The penultimate part of Robert Elson's 1927 book dealing with indoor and outdoor amusements and of course gaming. There is a good description of a Gala dinner which has the authentic 1920s tone:

 "A gala dinner may be ...a more elaborate entertainment indistinguishable from a fête, the room being decorated for the occasion–sometimes in a really artistic manner–and a good programme of show-turns provided. There are sure to be surprises–toys to make noises with, balloons, etc. The peculiarity of surprises is that they are always the same. Occasionally really attractive gifts are distributed, or prizes given in connection with dancing or a tombola (raffle). If you are in an appropriately happy-go-lucky mood, a gala is usually quite enjoyable. It is good to play the fool sometimes, pelting and being pelted by the occupants of neighboring tables with little coloured balls, and trying to hit people at a distance with harmless projectiles. Also, you never know what may come of it. A happily-married lady of my acquaintance first made her existence known to her husband by hitting him on the ear with a flying sausage; he asked her to dance, and the thing was as good as done."

Such goings on would have been vieux jeu by the 1940s. Interestingly many fetes described have gone - The Venetian Fete at Cannes has been replaced by a film festival, car shows and uphill car racing at Monte Carlo has become the Rally, but the Burning of the Boat still goes on and the Battle of Flowers - so all is not lost.

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How to be Happy on the Riviera 2

The second part of a posting of a complete book How to be Happy on the Riviera by Robert Elson W. (Arrowsmith Ltd., 11 Quay Street, Bristol, 1927). There is plenty on food and restaurants (including menus and tips on coffee, ice cream and liqueurs) and some good descriptions of gamblers in Monte Carlo - 

"Little old women in Victorian black silk dresses and bonnets; others attired in the fashions of twenty or thirty years ago; exotic-looking young women, wearing extravagant parodies of the fashions of to-day – some exactly like cinema vamps; women like men, and girls like boys. A duke who is a frequent visitor summed it up neatly: 'There are always a lot of queer wild-fowl about'...you may see incredibly ancient men; wild-looking men with immense manes of hair; gaunt men with sunken cheeks and bony hands who might have come out of a novel by Mrs. Radclyffe, unnatural-looking young men who might have been created by Mr. Michael Arlen; people who impress you as half crazy, others who look as if they had been dead a long time, only they don't know it.'

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How to be Happy on the Riviera 1927

We are putting up an entire book on Jot101, a fairly early book on the Riviera. Very much of its time with local prices, information about the weather and sports facilities and recommendations for hotels and cafes and cabarets. Here are the first 4 chapters...


HOW TO BE HAPPY
ON THE RIVIERA

BY ROBERT ELSON


First published in August, 1927

Printed in Great Britain by J. W. Arrowsmith Ltd., 11 Quay Street, Bristol

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Stephen Tennant – a note on a scrap of paper

Found - a scrap of paper from a book on America maritime history - this note by the eccentric /decadent writer and artist Stephen Tennant (1906 -1987.) He often used pages of books for notes, poems, rants and observations. He made many hundreds of pages of notes for his projected novel Lascar; A Story of the Maritime Boulevard but it remained unfinished at his death. He produced a few slim volumes and some superb drawings. The writer mentioned is anonymous but being rich and eccentric and talented ST knew many writers including Willa Cather, Siegfried Sassoon (a former lover) V.S. Naipaul (a neighbour) and W.H. Auden (who praised one of his poems.) The scrap reads thus:-

There is no element or trait in human nature that a writer can ignore - But to give prominence to the Noble profound, to the calm, the wise, the Beautiful- the exquisite, the sacred is surely his proudest need? June 1976 S T

But he is no prude or evader of odious things.

ST with David Hockney
at Wilsford Manor
Design for a cover
for 'Lascar'

'Ah, Marseille, - c'set le Vrai.'
A writer said this a propos my novel Lascar.

Stephen Tennant's possessions were dispersed in a big Sotheby's sale at his home Wilsford Manor, Wiltshire in 1987.

This was bought there in a van full of books. Some of the books appeared to be scented, some had letters loosely inserted including one from Willa Cather. The catalogue itself is sought after, at Ebay a copy recently made £100 although it is not uncommon...