(Paris: [Printed by] l'Imprimerie Benberou Madjid, 21 April 1962). 380 x 280 mm. (15 x 11 1/8"). 6 p.l.,  leaves. FIRST EDITION. No. 44 OF 50 COPIES, SIGNED by the author and the artist, this copy WITH THREE ARTIST'S PROOFS AND AN ORIGINAL COMPOSITION, ALL SIGNED.
SUPERB TAUPE CALF BY MONIQUE MATHIEU (signed "M M" on front turn-in and dated 1965 on rear), a blue and brown naja snakeskin wrapped around the boards and smooth spine at the midpoint, six onlays of chocolate brown paper and one of a fragment of snakeskin accenting the covers, upper cover with brown titling, spine lettered in brown with the names of the author and artist, taupe raw fiber paper pastedowns, fawn-colored suede endleaves, top edge waxed in gray. Original gray paper wrappers and linen spine bound in. Housed in a suede-lined, calf-trimmed chemise covered in paper resembling light wood grain and a matching slipcase. With 10 original etchings in colors, hand drawn by Benanteur and printed by Bernard Duvivier, original front wrapper illustrated in colors by Benanteur, and THREE ORIGINAL COLOR ETCHINGS BY BENANTEUR, all signed and marked "Artist Proof." Publication notice with a text by Monique Boucher mounted in a frame and bound in at rear. Catalog of Monique Mathieu's bindings, no. 87. In immaculate condition.
This book of poems written by a prominent Algerian author and illustrated by a leading Algerian painter was bound by a grande dame of French bookbinding. Monique Mathieu (b. 1927) studied art history at the Institute of Art and Archeology before training as a bookbinder in various workshops, most notably that of Pierre Aufschneider, who had worked for Legrain, Crezevault, and Bonet. She established her own workshop in 1957, and in 1961 she received the Rose Adler Prize at an exhibition organized by the Société de la Reliure Origínale. In "Art & Bookbinding," Dolores Bardo observes that Mathieu "has managed to translate a decorative language of almost poetic purity into bookbinding." Married to prominent French poet André Frénaud (1907-93) for nearly 30 years, she developed a passion for that art form. According to Bardo, "most of her bindings are made on books by contemporary poets, illustrated by prominent artists, for a simple matter of affinity. For her, the binding is not just a luxurious cover whose sole purpose is to beautify and protect the book. Her work stands out for a very personal style, a sobriety and very specific colors that respond to a clear intention of modernity. Monique is very sensitive to contact with nature and this sensitivity translates into organizing her decorations around natural elements presented, sometimes in their raw state using pieces of wood and other times using colors and shapes inspired by those offered by nature itself."
Jean Sénac (1926-73) was an ardent Algerian nationalist who sought to bring independence and a flowering of culture to his country. He admired and was influenced by Gérard de Nerval, Arthur Rimbaud, and Jean Genêt, and had a longtime relationship with Albert Camus. The publication notice bound in here notes the difficulty of bringing this project to completion ("a quest ceaselessly torn from precariousness") due to the independence of Sénac and the "ardent silence" of Benanteur (1931-2017), an Algerian-born artist who studied and lived in Paris, where he began his career as a painter, known especially for his shimmering landscapes. In 1961, he pivoted to focusing on printmaking and artist's books; his first such project was another text by Sénac, "Matinale de mon peuple." Despite the difficulties of wrangling writer and artist, the publisher managed to produce a beautiful book, which found an ideal binder in Mathieu. (ST17029)