Saturday, 5 August 2017

New Addition: Champfleury's 'The Faïence Violin' in English translation

Champfleury, The Faïence Violin. 1895. trans. Helen B. Dole. Thomas Y Crowell & Company: New York.

Read Online (in English)
As both novelist and theorist, Champfleury was one of the principle formulators and organisers of the Realist movement and in both literature and the plastic arts – he ghost-wrote Courbet's most important manifestos.  Although Realism is typically reductively explained as a straightforward "rejection" or "attack" on Romanticism, it should be noted that Champfleury was mentored by the arch-Romantics Gautier and Nerval, and was one of the first group of avant-garde historians to take on the mission of recording the rapidly-vanishing history of avant-garde Romanticism; he wrote the first book on Romanticist illustration, a translation of Hoffman's fantasy stories, several biographies and studies of underground Romantics including Nerval and Houssaye, and Gavarni, one on marginalised "eccentrics" of Paris,  and a series of studies of the history of caricature and cartooning (this archive contains his History of Caricature During the Republic, Empire, and Restoration and his children's book Mr. Tringle – see the Historiography & Literature tabs).

Despite his importance to both literary and art history and the huge range and extent of his writing, Champfleury is virtually unheard-of in the English-speaking world today. This is one of the few translations of his work available. It tells the story of an obsessed collector of antique violins, whose pursuit of a prize instrument leads him into various quandaries. It is part of a tradition of French literature written about and for archivists, bibliophiles, and collectors, of which Charles Nodier and Bibliophile Jacob were major early figures (see the archive's copy of Bibliophile Jacob/Paul Lacroix's My Republic in Literature, for instance). This copy is well-read, its cheaply-produced soft leather binding chipping apart and its cover detaatched; the interior remains strongly bound and readable.

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