(Paris: Les Amis de Colette, 1935-36). 311 x 241 mm. (12 1/4 x 9 1/2"). Four volumes. No. 95 OF 175 COPIES, each volume SIGNED in the colophon.
FANCIFUL GRAYISH-BROWN CRUSHED MOROCCO, INLAID AND DECORATED WITH GILT AND SILVER, BY PAUL BONET (stamp-signed on front turn-ins), covers with an all-over design comprising rows of alternating deeply impressed gilt circlets and inlaid morocco dots of turquoise, pink, sea green, or citron morocco (each volume with inlays matching the color of the bound-in original wrappers), upper cover of each volume with a different whimsical rectangle formed by looping and cresting silver calligraphic flourishes; flat spines with gilt titling, endpapers matching original wrappers of each volume, top edges gilt, other edges untrimmed. In the original morocco-trimmed, leather-lined chemises and matching slipcases. With 24 engravings, six each by Dignimont, Daragnès, Moreau, and Segonzac. TITLE PAGE OF VOLUME I with presentation inscription to Monsieur J. Ortiz-Linares SIGNED BY COLETTE, AND WITH A SMALL ORIGINAL INK SELF-PORTRAIT below the signature. For the binding: Bonet, "Carnets" 320-23. Half title of volume III with light brown smudge to head edge, otherwise A CHOICE SET, the text clean, fresh, and bright, and THE BINDINGS LUSTROUS AND WITHOUT ANY SIGNS OF USE.
This luxurious set, with its smooth paper, excellent printing, pleasing illustrations, and lovely bindings, embodies that French sophistication Colette portrayed so vividly in her writings. (Virginia Woolf complained that just reading Colette made her feel dowdy.) Proclaimed by Britannica "the outstanding French writer of the first half of the 20th century," Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954) published her first novel in 1900, and wrote prolifically for the next half century, amassing an oeuvre of more than 50 novels and scores of short stories and essays. Her writings are notable for their vivid sensual descriptions and for their indomitable female characters. A "New York Times" review observed, "Colette's courtesans don't die of tuberculosis. They guard their jewels and railway shares and, with good humor and a firm hand on the servants, gracefully grow old." Included in our four volumes are the author's most famous novel, "Chéri," its proto-text "Clouk," "Notes Marocaines," "La Decapitée," "En tournée," "Music-Hall," and "Portraits et Paysages." Colette was the first woman to be elected to the Académie Goncourt and the first to serve as its president. Her death did not put an end to her pioneering achievements: she was the first woman in France to be given a state funeral. A French citizen of Belgian origin, the bookbinder Paul Bonet (1889-1971) had been an electrician's apprentice and then a designer of women's dresses, but he was also a bibliophile, and one who was so disappointed by the quality of bookbinding available for his collection that he began to bind books himself. He became the leading bookbinder in France, creating unique and imaginative works of art in a modern idiom, and having a profound influence on the course of bookbinding, particularly on the Continent. In 1971, the prestigious Prix Paul Bonet for outstanding bookbinding was instituted by the Centro del Bel Libro in Ascona, Switzerland, in his honor. At least as important as the books bound with his own hands are the designs he created for bindings executed by others. In "Carnets," Bonet describes the present bindings as "simple and elegant," and notes that his designs were executed by René Desmules and gilded by "Jeanne." Bonet almost never did full bindings on sets as large as the present one: ABPC and RBH do not record any single such item in the past 40 years. Given the inscription and accompanying artwork here, these volumes could well have been commissioned by original owner Jorge Ortiz-Linares, Bolivian ambassador to France, a celebrated collector of French literature, the father of Jaime Ortiz-Patiño (famous in golf and bridge circles), and one of the richest men in the world at the time. (ST12769)
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PJP Catalog: 73.220