Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2012 Issue

An Almost Perfect Crime: Rochefort vs. Du Tertre

Ae-10-rochefort (3)

The time had come for a thorough interrogation. I decided to compare the statements of Messrs. Rochefort and Du Tertre. I picked up two significant articles of theirs : the ones about “Requiems” - or sharks - and pine-apples. They are alike and different. First, there is no absolute plagiarism. Sentences are not alike and Du Tertre often relates personal experiences in his articles that do not appear in Rochefort’s. Nevertheless, some points remain disturbing. “ The English call it shark, writes Rochefort, the Spaniards Tiburon but the French call it Requiem, meaning “rest” – maybe because it appears when the sea is calm and peaceful ; or most likely because it promptly sends to rest those it catches.” Du Tertre says it is because “a requiem is sung anytime it catches someone.” The pineapple, now, “crowned with leaves by the King of Kings” to show the world it is “the king of all fruits” for Du Tertre. So sumptuous, for Rochefort, “ it seems Natures has here displayed all her charms, and filled this fruits with her rarest and most precious treasures.” Ideas, or at least some of them, are the same ; the way to express them differs.

Rochefort never answered the accusations of Du Tertre, unless we consider his adding many lettres from eminent people to the second edition - to prove his legitimacy ? – to be a sort of answer. Because of these lettres, of a few folding copper plates and many augmented articles, the second edition is seen as “the best one” by some. To me, the first edition is unique. I see it as an exceptional book of poetry. The style is much better than Du Tertre’s. Under our suspect’s pen (or feather) Nature tenderly gives away her love to plants, trees and animals as a caring mother to her children ; her blessings are like soft healing whispers. This is the fairy tale of a land far away, where there is no night, where everything has remained in its virginal state ; there our spirit shall roam the lands, free and peaceful, as if trodding the Garden regained, or being rocked in the bosom of Abraham. Never forget, our suspect was a pastor.

I eventually brought the case to court and ended up with a hung jury. The fellow walked free out of the court house, superbly dressed in a sumptuous frontispiece and a vellum jacket, and followed by a myriad of triumphant engravings. I would advise Mr. Du Tertre not to appeal the decision. After all, he is considered as the authoritative author on the subject nowadays, and the glory of his opponent does not take a lot away from his – the last time his works appeared in Drouot (3 in-4° volumes), it was sold for 11,500 euros. Rochefort’s book, though an expensive book also, hardly reaches that price (but it is a one volume book). The case is not closed yet. Inquiries are still going on. Meanwhile, I will not follow the advise Mr. de Rochefort, as a pastor, might have given: I will love the sin if not the sinner. Beauty has its privileges.



Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions