Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2019 Issue

Victor Hugo and His Family from Michel Bouvier

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Victor Hugo and his relatives.

Parisian bookseller Michel Bouvier has issued a catalogue entitled Victor Hugo et Ses Proches Collection de Monsieur Éric Bertin Livres et Documents (Victor Hugo and His Relatives, Collection of Monsieur Éric Bertin, Books and Documents). Victor Hugo not only needs no introduction in his French homeland, but much of anywhere else either. Two of his books remain staples of American films and theater today, among the most popular even on Broadway, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Les Miserables. Of course, he wrote much more, and his works are notable for humanizing the plight of France's underclasses. Along with his books and poems, this catalogue contains many glimpses of his personal life, letters and documents reflecting an unusual private existence. This is an opportunity to obtain not just some of his rarer books, but a part of the man himself. Here are a few samples of the 240 items offered related to Victor Hugo.

 

We begin with the first published work of Victor Hugo. It is not one of his great works. It did not even carry his name. No one would have noticed if it had. Hugo was only 17 years old at the time. Item 3 is a dissertation by then almost 40-year-old François de Neufchâteau. The title is Examen de la Question de Savoir si Le Sage est l'Auteur de Gil Blas, ou s'il l'a Pris de l'Espagnol. Published in 1819 under Neufchateau's name, it is a consideration whether the novel, Gil Blas, written a century earlier, was actually the work of a Spanish writer, not Alain-René Lesage to whom it is attributed. Claims had been made by some Spaniards, and even Voltaire, to that effect. The knowledge of Spanish customs and such led some to believe it could not have been written by Lesage. Neufchateau was a poet, though more of a critic and primarily a government official. He would later publish an edition of Gil Blas using this essay as a preface. His argument is for Lesage's authorship of the novel. However, most of his dissertation was not written by Neufchateau but by his young protege. In it, Neufchateau disputes the Spanish theory. However, most of the research and writing was done by Hugo, who later would provide broad hints as to his authorship. However, he was not upset by Neufchateau's appropriation of his work as the latter was very helpful to young Hugo's career. Priced at €600 (euros, or approximately $675 in U.S. dollars).

 

This next piece is an early, eight-page poem from Victor Hugo that may be unexpected. It can be explained by the fact that Hugo was only 20 years old at the time and his political views had not yet matured. He was still more like his mother, a Catholic monarchist, than his father, who had served Napoleon. Indeed, this poem was an attack on Napoleon. The title is Buonaparte, Ode, an ode to Napoleon Bonaparte, but it is hardly complementary. Published in 1822, he describes the then former Emperor as a living plague. He also calls him a despot and usurper, and praises the restored Bourbon monarchy. He soon was awarded a stipend from the restored King. However, Hugo also displayed a certain grudging respect for Napoleon's achievements, and the following year wrote a poem to honor his Napoleonic father. Within the coming years, after experiencing some poverty himself, Hugo would become a champion of the poor against all types of despotic governments, and would look at the coming kings and despots who came to rule France with greater disdain than he had for Napoleon. This is a quite rare piece to find. Item 9. €2,400 (US $2,276).

 

Seven years later, Hugo would complete one of his more influential novels, a short one that reveals the developing social conscience of its author. Hugo was moved by witnessing the preparation for a public execution, or perhaps being upset was a better word. He went home and began writing Le Dernier Jour d'un condamné (the last day of a condemned). The book evidently moved others as this third edition was published just three weeks after the first in February of 1829. It describes the condemned man's thoughts, emotions, and life in prison on his last day on earth. It takes him to the guillotine where a plea for a pardon is ignored, and the crowd yells for the executioner to get on with it. Hugo's aim was the abolition of the death penalty, and his vivid description of the event is designed to stir similar sentiments among its readers. Hugo focuses on the barbaric penalty itself by not giving the convict a name nor even stating what was his crime. Neither mattered to Hugo, only the barbarity of state killing was important. Actually, Hugo's name as author is also omitted. Item 52. €4,000 (US $4,460).

 

If Hugo's previous works did not create a great stir in lands far from France, this next one would make him a name in places as far away as America. Few do not know this story even now, almost two centuries later. Item 68 is Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris), better known in English editions as the Hunchback of Notre Dame. This is a first edition, published in 1831, though labeled fourth edition. When the first edition was printed, the publisher listed parts of the run as being the first, second, third, and fourth edition to make it look like the book was selling faster than it was. In hindsight, we can see there was no need for this ruse. The French title reveals Hugo's interest in the preservation of very old architecture, which he thought was being destroyed, hence its focus on Notre Dame, the church. However, the Gothic story proved to be of more interest to readers than the Gothic architecture, hence the English focus on the Hunchback. €2,800 (US $3,120).

 

Next we have an accounting of expenses by "Toto and me" from July 1-24, 1835. "Toto" was Hugo's pet name by Juliette Drouet, or in keeping with the names, by "Juju." Victor married the love of his youth, Adele Foucher, in 1822, and they remained married until her death in 1868. Hugo had a roving eye, but his most lasting relationship, even longer than that to Foucher, was with Juliette Drouet. It began in 1833 and lasted until her death in 1883, two years before his. One should not be too judgmental of Hugo because Foucher had earlier entered into an ongoing affair herself with a friend of Hugo's, but their marriage nonetheless lasted, though not with the romance. Drouet, an actress, and Hugo fell in love at first sight and it lasted a lifetime. When Hugo went in exile in England for 20 years after the rise of Napoleon III, it was Drouet who went with him, always living nearby. She wrote him two letters a day, thousands of which still exist. This expense account of his was written by her shortly before the two went off on one of their many trips together. Item 115. £1,150 (US $1,281).

 

Hugo had five children, all with his wife, Adele Foucher, but there was one other he loved as a daughter. That was Claire Pradier. She was the daughter of Juliette Drouet. Drouet had many romances before meeting Hugo, but never married, not even to Hugo during the 15 years they outlived his wife. Claire's father, James Pradier, was a sculptor, 16 years her senior, who took her under his wing, and a little more. However, once Drouet hooked up with Hugo, she lived the rest of her life for him. Item 151 is a letter dated May 5, 1846. In it, Drouet sadly writes a friend of her daughter's serious illness. She died the following month at the age of 20. €650 (US $724).

 

Michel Bouvier may be reached at +33 (0)1 46 34 64 53 or informations@librairiemichelbouvier.com. The website is www.librairiemichelbouvier.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 1. Albertus Magnus, De Natura Locorum, 2nd edn, 1515. £3000 to £4000.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 22. George Cooke, Scenery of the East India Islands, 1811-13. £4500 to £5500.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 23. J.M. Crozet, Nouveau vouage a la Mer du Sud, 1st edn, 1783. £4000 to £6000.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 27. J.P.J.Du Bois, Vies des Gouverneurs Generaux, 1st edn, 1763. £1200 to £1800.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 28. Wm Ellis, Authentic Narrative...Captain Cook, 1st edn, 1782. £2500 to £3500.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 31. Thomas Forrest, Voyage to New Guinea, 1st edn, 1779. £1500 to £2000.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 32. Forster & Forster, Voyage round the World, 1st edn, 1777-78. £4500 to £5500.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 38. Gianetti, Elogy of Captain James Cook, 1st edn, 1785. £2500 to £3500.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 46. Otto von Kotzebue, Entdeckungs Reise, 1st edn, 1821. £3500 to £4500.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 52. Alejandro Malaspina, Viaje politico-scientifico, 1st edn, 1885. £2000 to £3000.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 60. Sydney Parkinson, Journal of Voyage to the South Seas, large paper, 1773. £4500 to £5500.
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 16:</b><br>Lot 64. Nathaniel Portlock, A Voyage round the World, 1st edn, 1789. £4000 to £6000.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Property from<br>The Eric C. Caren Collection<br>Bidding Closes July 21st</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s:</b> Albert Einstein. Typed letter signed “A. Einstein” to Ensign Guy H. Raner Jr. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s:</b> Alfred Swaine Taylor. Early "photogenic drawing" photograph of a fern. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s:</b> The Chicago Seven. Cook County Jail identification cards. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Property from<br>The Eric C. Caren Collection<br>Bidding Closes July 21st</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s:</b> Harper Lee. A fine group of letters to Claudia Durst Johnson and other manuscript material. $60,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s:</b> A. R. Gurrey Jr.. The Surf Riders of Hawaii. Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s:</b> George Herman “Babe” Ruth. The Babe Ruth Story by Babe Ruth as told to Bob Considine. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>The Collectors’ Sale<br>July 7 – 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> O'Fihely, Maurice Abp. <i>Questiones subtilissme Scoti in metaphysicam Aristotelis</i>, Venice (Octavianus Scoti) 20th November 1497. 8,000 to 12,000 €
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> Pococke (Richard). <i>A Description of the East and some other Countries,</i> 3 vols. in 2, L. (W. Bowyer) 1743. 2,250 to 3,500 €
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> Keogh (John). <i>Botanalogia Universalis Hibernica, or A General Irish Herbal Calculated for this Kingdom, giving an account of the Herbs, Scrubs…</i>, Corke (George Harrison) 1735. 1,000 to 1,500 €
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>The Collectors’ Sale<br>July 7 – 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> Perry (Charles). <i>A View of the Levant particularly of Constantinople, Syria, Egypt and Greece,</i> L. (T. Woodward) 1743. 800 to 1,200 €
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> Shaw (Thomas). <i>Travels, or Observations Relating to Several Parts of Barbary and the Levant,</i>, Oxford (The Theatre) 1738. 600 to 700 €
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> [French (Nicholas) Bishop of Ferns] Attributed, <i>Recit Exact et Fidele de la Vente et Partage du Roiaume d'Irlande Fait Sous Charles II…,</i> Milan (Chez Charles Joseph Quinto) 1724. 500 to 700 €
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>The Collectors’ Sale<br>July 7 – 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> [French (V. Rev.Dr. Nicholas, Bp of Ferns.)] <i>The Unkinde Desertor of Loyall Men and True Frinds,</i> 12mo, n.p. 1676. 500 to 700 €
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> Yeats (W.B.) <i>Plays and Controversies,</i>, N.Y. (The MacMillan Company) 1924, Signed Limited Edn. 500 to 700 €
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> Barrie (J.M.) & Thomson (Hugh) illus. <i>Quality Street, a Comedy in Four Acts,</i> L. (Hodder and Stoughton) 1901, Limited Edition, signed by the artist. 500 to 700 €
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>The Collectors’ Sale<br>July 7 – 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> Molyneaux (William). <i>The Case of Ireland's being bound by Acts of Parliament in England Stated,</i> [London 1719]. 200 to 300 €
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Jul. 7 – 15:</b> Johnston's (W. & A.) Map of South Africa, to illustrate the Military Operations 1900. 100 to 150 €
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Adam Smith, <i>Wealth of Nations,</i> first edition, descended from William Alexander, London, 1776. $70,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> George Gershwin, photograph signed & inscribed with autograph musical quotation, <i>An American in Paris,</i> 1928. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Friedrich Engels, <i>The Condition of the Working Class in England,</i> first edition, NY, 1887. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> <i>Bury St. Edmunds Witch Trials,</i> first edition, London, 1682. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Robert Rey, <i>Estampes,</i> complete portfolio of 12 wood engravings, Paris, 1950. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Archive of 47 letters by Enrico Caruso to a lady friend, 1906-20. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Books of Hours in Flemish, Netherlands, 15th century. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Jack Kerouac, <i>Doctor Sax,</i> deluxe limited edition, signed, NY, 1959. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Walt Disney, signature on title-page of Ward Greene’s <i>Lady and the Tramp,</i> first edition, first printing. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>July 16, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> Ptolomaeus (Claudius). <i>Cosmographia,</i> first edition, Vicenza, Hermann Liechtenstein, 13 September 1475. £150,000 to £200,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> Schoener (Johann). <i>Opera mathematica,</i> 3 parts in 1, first edition,The Honeyman copy in contemporary binding, Nuremberg, J. Montanus and U. Neuber, 1551. £30,000 to £40,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> Lucian of Samosata. <i>Dialogoi, editio princeps,</i> with fine illuminated title-page, Florence, Lorenzo de Alopa, 1496. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>July 16, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> Pian (Jean Baptiste de). [Architectural Alphabet], 26 chromolithographs by Leopold Muller after Pian, Vienna, 1842-44. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> Rogers (Bruce).- Holy Bible (The)..., one of 200 copies on handmade paper, designed by Bruce Rogers, bound in modern crimson morocco, gilt, Oxford, 1935. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> Jenner (Edward). <i>An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae…,</i> first edition, Printed for the Author, by Sampson Low, 1798. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>July 16, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> Voyages.- Cook (Capt. James).- Parkinson (Sydney). <i>A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, in his Majesty's Ship the Endeavour,</i> second edition, Charles Dilly...& James Phillips, 1784. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> [Clemens (Samuel Langhorne)] "Mark Twain". <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,</i> first edition, first state, New York, Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> [Voight (Hans Henning)], "Alastair". Herod, for 'Salome: Drame en un Acte', original drawing in red & black ink over pencil, [c.1922]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>July 16, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> James (M.R.) <i>Ghost Stories of an Antiquary,</i> first edition, signed presentation inscription from the author to A.C. Benson, 1904. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> Remarque (Erich Maria). <i>All Quiet on the Western Front,</i> first English edition, signed presentation inscription from the author, 1929. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, July 16:</b> Ashendene Press.- More (Sir Thomas). <i>A Fruteful and Pleasaunt Worke...Utopia,</i> one of 100 copies, bound in black goatskin by J.Franklin Mowery, Ashendene Press, 1906. £3,000 to £4,000.

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