New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1928. Item #02941
"The Figures Created by his Imagination have more often than not an air of being less
than Flesh and Blood, of being less than Human, more Abnormal than Normal"
[ALASTAIR, illustrator]. PRÉVOST, The Abbé. Manon Lescaut. Translated from the French of the Abbé Prévost by D.C. Moylan with Eleven Illustrations by Alastair and an introduction by Arthur Symons. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1928.
First American edition. Limited to eighteen hundred and fifty numbered copies for sale in England and America (this being # 1,077).
Folio (12 1/2 x 10 inches; 312 x 255 mm.). xxxvi, 196, , [3 blank] pp., partially uncut. Title-page printed in black and red. Eleven full-page black, red and white plates with captioned tissue guards.
Original gray cloth, front cover stamped and spine lettered in red. Pictorial endpapers printed in black and red, top edge trimmed, others uncut. Spine slightly faded and with small 1/4 inch tear at top. Complete with the original pictorial dust jacket printed in black and red (torn at folds). An excellent copy.
"Alastair never sees nor seizes hold on reality; not only does he live in a world of his own, but the figures created by his imagination have more often than not an air of being less than flesh and blood, of being less than human, more abnormal than normal, and essentially "tired of being human"…" (introduction).
Hans Henning Otto Harry Baron von Voigt (1887-1969), best known by his nom de paintbrush, Alastair, was a German artist, composer, dancer, mime, poet, singer and translator. Mysterious, flamboyant, enigmatic and attractive, Baron Hans Henning Voight was self-taught as an artist, and he was also a proficient dancer and pianist. He is best known as an illustrator, and his career as an artist was launched in 1914, when John Lane published Forty-Three Drawings by Alastair. His drawings, which are often decadent in spirit and have the look of Art Deco, were influenced by the drawings of Aubrey Beardsley. His ‘serpentine line’ often depicts characters whose outlines are lightly drawn with the main areas filled in with ‘broken dotted lines’.His drawings were in black and white ink, sometimes with one color added. Alastair's illustrations show a strong influence from the Decadent movement in art and poetry that had begun decades earlier, with the perverse and sinister a recurring theme.
The poet and publisher Caresse Crosby described her first meeting with him: "... a blackamoor ushered us into a room where their was a black piano with a single candle burning on it. Soon Alastair himself appeared in the doorway in a white satin suit; he bowed, did a flying split and slid across the polished floor to stop at my feet, where he looked and said, 'Ah, Mrs Crosby !'" He knew how to made an entrance.
Set in France and Louisiana in the early 18th century, the story follows the hero, the Chevalier des Grieux, and his lover, Manon Lescaut. Des Grieux comes from noble and landed family, but forfeits his hereditary wealth and incurs the disappointment of his father by running away with Manon. In Paris, the young lovers enjoy a blissful cohabitation, while Des Grieux struggles to satisfy Manon's taste for luxury. He scrounges together money by borrowing from his unwaveringly loyal friend Tiberge and from cheating gamblers….