Paris: Le Rayon d'Or/Librairie Gallimard, 1952. Item #01079
A Spectacular Copy in a Stunning Binding
Signed by the Author with an ALs by the Artist
[DUHAYON, Henri, binder]. [BOFA, Gus, illustrator]. ROMAINS, Jules. Les Coupains. Avec douze aquarelles par Gus Bofa. N.p. [Paris]: Le Rayon d'Or, (1952).
First edition illustrated by Bofa, limited to 3500 numbered copies sur vélin blanc des Papeteries de Lana, this being copy 3152. Octavo (8 1/4 x 6 1/8 in; 208 x 153 mm). 200, , [1, blank], [3, table], [1, blank], [1, colophon], [1, blank] pp. Twelve aquarelle plates, one of which has been inscribed by the artist to the owner.
In a stunning contemporary binding by Henri Duhayon of Nice (stamp signed in gilt to inside front turn in) in full crushed cordovan morocco with large hand painted panel to upper and lower sides. Gilt lettered spine. Top edge gilt. Custom endpapers. A flawless copy in binder's leather edged slipcase.
Signed and dated Nov. 1958 by the author, with a tipped in ALs by the artist, an inscription by French novelist and playwright Georges Duhamel dated Septembre 1958, and a TLs by the owner, Jean Francesche (with his blindstamped signed ex libris on inside front cover turn in).
The eighth volume in Librairie Galimard's illustrated collection, Le Rayon d'or, a reissue of Romain's celebrated novel of 1913.
Renowned artist Gus Bofa (b. Gustave Blanchot 1883-1968) was an illustrator for Rire and Sourire, a costume and set designer, a celebrated poster artist, and illustrator for the literary journal, Crapouillot. He soon became one of the most in demand illustrators of editions of Swift, La Fontaine, Cervantes, etc., ultimately with one hundred and seventeen volumes to his credit. (Ref. gusbofa.com).
French novelist, poet, dramatist, and essayist Jules Romains (pseud. of Louis Farigoule 1885-1972) was, "early in his career…associated with a short-lived artistic community, the Groupe de 'Abbaye, which published his poems, La Vie unanime, in 1908. These poems wnad much of his later verse and prose, were influence by Unanimist theories of social groups and collective psychology. Before the war in 1914 he published more collections of poetry, a verse play…and two novels, Mort de quelqu'un (1911) and the farcial Les Copains [The Pals]" (New Oxford Companion to Literature in French, p. 707).
Georges Duhamel's (1884–1966) experience as a surgeon during World War I produced Vie des martyrs (1917, tr. The New Book of Martyrs, 1918) and Civilisation (1918, tr. 1919). These collections of sketches are noted for their compassionate accounts of human suffering. He was successful as a dramatist; his Dans l'ombre des statues was performed in 1912 (tr. In the Shadow of Statues, 1914) and L'oeuvre des athlètes in 1920. His fiction includes two cycles of novels—Cycle de Salavin (1920–32, tr. 1936), about a sensitive eccentric, and Chronique des Pasquiers (1933–45, tr. 1937–46), about a bourgeois Parisian family. Essays in Scènes de la vie future (1930, tr. America: the Menace, 1931) and other collections reflect Duhamel's aversion to overindustrialization" (Columbia Enclyclopedia). He wrote passionately against war and its atrocities , and against the rise of Naziism. He was elected to the Académie Français in 1935. Though now largely forgotten, he is perhaps best remembered for his timeless epigram: "It is always brave to say what everyone thinks"
The TLs by owner Jean Francesche reads:
"The owner of this copy had read a book by Jules Romains, edited in 1958 by the Fayard Publishing House. It was the fourth book from the collection 'The Forty: MEMORIES AND SECRETS OF A WRITER.'
"Page 128: 'In THE PALS, what part of the book is autobiographical and contains actual events?'
"Page 129: 'It is not impossible to find a resemblance between the cheeks and glasses of Huchon with those of Duhamel, just as it is not impossible to find a certain pretentiousness in the future author of DESERT OF BIEVRES when Huchon prepares the veal stew as no one else can (to be more precise it was more like something between a stew and a roast)'
"This revelation has led me to question the author’s childhood friend on this detail, and Georges Duhamel, who like the author, has been made a member of the French Academy, was kind enough to write his answer on the half-title of this edition, which is illustrated by Gus Bofa.
"I was also intrigued by the drawing where the artist had brought together 'THE PALS' and in which , I told him, it appeared that one of the characters had lost his head, or at least his cranium.
"I asked him to please complete the drawing with a skillful stroke of his pencil.
"He returned the drawing to me with an inscription as well as a curious letter which follows:.
"I think that all of this adds to the interest of this charming volume
[signed] Jean Franceche"
Bofa's ALs response reads:
Mr. N.D. des Champs
Lundi 24 Novembre 88
Votre lettre soulève un cas de conscience ! Votre «copain sans visage » n’a pas perdu la tête – il n’en a jamais eu – Jules Romain l’a voulu ainsi – lui, dans le même temps, mettait hors des soins, a une grande tendresse a portraiturer les autres copains.
Bien loin de vouloir ajouter a ce bonhomme le coup de crayon que vous me demandez, je devrais plutôt regretter de lui ???? déjà, supposé un peu de menton, de bouche et de crâne, sans y être autorisé par le contexte.
Avec mes deux mains bien sympatiques,
[signature] Gus Bofa
[Mr. N.D. des Champs
Monday November, 24, ‘88
Your letter stirs up a question of conscience! Your “pal without a face” has not lost his head - he never had one – Jules Romain wanted it like this, and at the same time he got a lot of tenderness into the process of drawing the other friends. Far from wanting to add the stroke of pencil to this man that you have asked me to, I regret that I cannot give him the supposed bit of chin, mouth and head, not being authorized to do so in this context.
"With my two sympathetic hands,
[signature] Gus Bofa]
Duhamel's inscription reads:
Je n’ai aucune qualité pour poser ma signature sur le livre d’un ami de ma jeunesse; mais je dois dire que ma spécialité culinaire était alors le ragoût de moutons, & non le ragoût de veau.
-[signature] G Duhamel
I have no authority to put my signature on the book of my childhood friend; but I must say that my culinary specialty was lamb stew, not veal stew.
-[signature] G. Duhamel