Biographies & Monographs

Early-edition biographies & monographs (most of them fairly rare) by historians and archivists who have played important roles in the preservation and historiography of the subcultures collected in the archive.
Petrus Borel: the Lycanthrope, by Enid Starkie. 1954. New Directions, Norfolk, Connecticut.
Starkie's biography of Petrus Borel, co-organiser of the Jeunes-France group and the most extreme exponent of Frenetic Romanticism, is one of the best sources available in English about the underground Romanticist milieu from the mid 1820s to the early 1840s. The book has not been reprinted in over 50 years. This copy bears heavy marginalia markings from my own research work.


Louis Boulanger: Le Peintre Poête, by Aristide Marie. 1925. Sole Edition [re-bound]. Floury, Paris.

Aristide Marie was one of the key historians of the Frenetic Romantics, writing biographies and monographs of Petrus Borel, Gérard de Nerval, Louis Boulanger, Célesin Nanteuil, Tony Johannot, Henry Monnier, and others. (see his monographs on Nanteuil and Monnier below.) This book, previously owned by Bowdoin College in Maine and in excellent shape, has a comprehensive biography, listing of works, and many black & white reproductions of Boulanger, one of the most influential Romanticist painters and lithographers in France and a key developer of Frenetic Romanticism in its visual form. To my knowledge this is the only edition of the only book ever dedicated to Boulanger. It bears marginalia markings from my own research.

Théophile Gautier, by Maxime Du Camp. Trans. J.E. Gordon. 1893. T. Fisher Unwin: London. Hardcover Sextodecimo, 231 pp.

Frank Harris, My Life and Loves. 1922. 1st Edition. Privately Printed, Paris.

Read a Later Edition Online
An inveterate traveler, Frank Harris was a polymath of the cultural margins: libertine, sexologist, left-wing journalist, outspoken pacifist, novelist, artist, cowboy, and editor. His multi-volume autobiography My Life and Loves was banned from sale in the U.S. and many other countries due to its sexual explicitness. Full of bravado, Harris nonetheless advocates throughout the text against misogynist (as well as racist) approaches to sexuality, focusing on female pleasure. 
Harris intended the book to express his philosophical and social blend of Paganism and Christianity, to combat what he called in the book's prospectus called the "combative Anglo-Saxon and Germanic ideal which must result . . . in constant warfare and the ultimate mastery of one race and not perhaps the finest, though the strongest." 

This copy, in well-used condition with detached boards and a torn title-page, is one of the few printed for the small first edition. It could only be circulated if privately printed, in sub-commercial quantity, without a publishing imprint (the reader is directed to Harris' home address in Paris); even the printing itself had to be done in Germany. It was pre-paid by privately-solicited subscription, not unlike today's crowdfunding, and the archive also owns one of the promotional pamphlets soliciting them, also privately printed (see ephemera). The implication is that this book's original owner was either personally acquainted with Harris, or was active in libertine/free love networks that intersected with those of Harris.
Henry Monnier, by Aristide Marie. 1931. Sole edition [re-bound]. Floury, Paris.

Charles Nodier: Pilot of Romanticism, by A. Richard Oliver. 1964. Syracuse University Press, Syracuse NY. 

Nodier is almost indisputably one of the most important organisers in the history of the avant-garde, and yet remains almost unknown in English within the avant-garde today. Most of the organisational characteristics established by the Romanticist avant-garde for whom his work, example, and personality were a primary inspiration were developed, experimented with, and succussfully put into praxis by Nodier between 1800 and 1835, by the end of which his Cénacle Group, from which the avant-garde Petit-Cénacle was a kind of splinter-cell, had engineered and achieved a complete paradigm shift in the relation of creative activity to both intellectual and mass culture. This is the only biography of Nodier ever published in English, and has never been reprinted. Like many of these books, it contains marginalia markings from my own research.
Célestin Nanteuil: Peintre, Aquafortiste et Lithographe, by Aristide Marie. 1925. Sole Edition [re-bound] H. Floury, Paris.

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Another monograph by Marie from the same series of French-lannguage monographs of the plastic artists of the 'Little Romantics' or Romanticist avant-garde as the book on Boulanger above. Nanteuil was central to developing the visual sensibility of Romanticist book-culture (see "Prints"); as is the case with most of the cultural workers treated by Marie in this series, this is the only edition of the only complete book ever dedicated to Nanteuil. Like the Boulanger book, this is from the library at Bowdoin College and in excellent condition, with marginalia markings from my own research.

Nanteuil was not only the leading book illustrator of the avant-garde, but also one of its principal organisers, and was central to recruiting and directing the rowdy Romanticist "clacques" that showed up to out-shout and potentially battle with Classicists at every Romanticist play into the 1840s (a combative aspect to his personality not reflected in Gautier's story). He was a leader of the Medievalist Romantics, who deployed a kind of radical nostalgia as a way to rethink the modernity for which--as Romantics and avant-gardists--they strove.

Though his books are still known to bibliophiles as some of the most beautiful of the time, he disappeared from art history, largely because he focused on printmaking and illustration, a "popular art," rather than painting. But you will see his influence in the illustrated borders, initial letters, and vignettes that adorn a great many books of French Romanticism in the 1830s & '40s and in the evolution of caricature and satirical cartoons, in which he also played a role.

Masters in Art: A Series of Illustrated Monographs, Issued Monthly–Puvis de Chevanne. Part 46, Vol. 4, Oct., 1903. Bates and Guild: Boston, Massachusetts. Softcover, 50 pp.

This monograph, one of a series assembled monthly for popular consumption, represents the moment at which Puvis de Chevanne–for most of his life one of the most respected painters within the avant-garde and among the least respected outside it–became 'mainstream'. The final years of his life had seen more widespread recognition as a muralist, and the "discovery" by academics and popular critics that had began then was completed by the time this was published, five years after his death. It includes16 pages of advertisements, 10 black & white reproductions with critical glosses, two essays, a bibliography and partial list of works.
Lytton Strachey, by Max Beerbohm. 1943. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
Paul Valéry: Méditerranéen, by Gabriel Faure. 1954. First Edition. Les Horizons de France, Paris. Inscribed by Faure ‘Au professeur Marcel Mouquin, en hommage très{?} dévoué, Gabriel Faure’.

François Villon, by Percy Whyndam Lewis. 1928. Literary Guild of America, New York. W/Introduction by Hillaire Belloc.

This limited edition book is written by Whyndam Lewis, organiser and primary theorist of the British avant-garde Vorticist group, introduced by the conservative satirist Hillaire Belloc, and treats of the Medieval poet and thief François Villon, one of the most overwhelming influences on the avant-garde both in his life and his poetics, and in particular of the development of the Bohemian community. Villon was a major inspiration for the later medieval satirist Rabelais, but lay nearly forgotten for centuries, until resurrected through the efforts of the Frenetic Romantics, especially Théophile Gautier (see elsewhere in archive) of the Jeunes-France. In very good condition, with my marginalia markings.

The Life of James McNeill Whistler, by Elizabeth R. & Joseph Pennell. 1911. 2nd Expanded edition. Ballantyne Press, London.

This huge illustrated biography of the Symbolist painter was published 8 years after his death by this husband and wife team, his friends fellow expatriates. Joseph was a painter and illustrator, while Elizabeth had also written biographies of the 18th Century feminist Mary Wollstencraft and the 19th Century folklorist, humorist, and hermeticist Charles Leland, one of the founders of Neo-Paganism. This copy is well-used and scuffed up, but intact.

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