Welcome back! We are ready for Post Numéro Deux of the Powell's City of Books French aisle blog! I have all sorts of wonderfully unique and out-of-print French treasures to share avec vous!
First, one of my favorite books in the aisle, and one of the smallest…. La Grenadie`re by Honoré de Balzac. This lovely little work of art is extremely delicate and fragile, but the colors of the prints are still wonderfully vivid. Published by Nilsson, this tiny volume is one of the collection de chevet and includes four hand-painted illustrations by Ro Keezer.
Next, let's take a look at this totally hip 1972 biography of Michel Foucault by Anne Guedez. The cover of this slim paperback is of typically swinging mid-century design. I'll bet Foucault himself didn't know he could look this cool. This edition is part of the Psychoteque series from publishers Editions Universitaires, and would look fabuleux in the philosophy section of one's bookshelves, non?
Let's wander down the aisle now to this delightful contemporary poetry anthology, Dernières Nouvelles, which includes Chavaroche and Salinie, that was published by Fanlac in 1999. This paperback has a nice black and white illustrated cover. It is a fac¸on chouette (very cool way) to add some modern poetry to your personal collection.
Further on we find this totally amazing 1924 volume, Ferat, containing a poem by Cocteau and art by cubist Serge Ferat. The soft paperback pamphlet is filled with 33 delicate black and white prints. It is absolutely beautiful (love those peaceful cows!) and was published by Valori Plastici in Rome.
Now we come to the Genre subsection and I submit for your perusal two books that could not be more different from each other. First, a wonderful biography of George Simenon called Le Dossier Simenon, by Roger Stéphane, and Poltergeist: La Vengeance des Fantômes (Poltergeist: The Revenge of the Ghosts). Quelle horreure!! Poltergeist is a quick and scary read featuring everyone's favorite little blond ghostbuster on the cover, and Le Dossier is much more dignified with its "hip-to-be-square" photos of Georges Simenon's bowtie on the cover, published by Robert Laffont. Very different books, but similarly tempting, I think!
Here is another book that might entertain you (and your friends!) called Le Barman Universel (The Universal Barman). This is a handy 1950s pocket hardback that outlines 600 recettes de boisson or drink recipes. It's got neat little 1950s drawings of various drinks and glasses and drinking accoutrements. There is also some drink history including the story of Flips, a family of traditional hot drinks that have a fizzy beer mixed with other ingredients to create a kind of mousse. Incroyable!
Take a look at this absolutely beautiful book called L'Esprit de la Lettre dans la Peinture (The Spirit of the Letter in Painting) by Jean Leymarie. This book is a love letter to the marriage of writing and art. The large, creamy pages are individually mounted with prints and paintings from across the centuries. A wonderful collection and a very romantic gift.
I found this beautifully illustrated children's book, La Secret de la Dame de Coeur (The Secret of the Queen of Hearts), written by Chantal de Marolles. The beautiful story is made magical by the soft, elegant watercolor illustrations by Marthe Sequin-Fontes. Très Charmant!
These are just a fraction of the hundreds of exceptional French books found in aisles 817 and 818 of the Red Room at Powell's City of Books. I will be back toute de suite to share more of the treasures I find there. Meanwhile, come down to the French aisle and enjoy some time making your own discoveries.
À la prochaine!