Saturday 5 November 2016
From the Collection Alfred de Vigny (which I encourage everyone to have a look at on auction house Artcurial‘s site here) are three images of young Alfred de Vigny, the author of Stello and Servitude et grandeur militaires. Here can be found some additional, rarely-seen pictures of the author, as well as many of his papers which will be going up for sale on November 15th―all certainly worth a closer look.
Your Humble Editor wishes to thank Dr. Massey for alerting him to the existence of this collection, any knowledge of which he would otherwise have had no inkling!
Wednesday 16 March 2016
The Human Comedy, Vol. 4 coming soon!
During the process of reissuing Stello, we came across a nice painting of the poet Thomas Chatterton (or, to be more precise, of a “Gentleman presumed to be Chatterton”) which the book’s translator, Dr. Massey, liked enough to request that it be reproduced in the book in color. For various reasons we were unable to do this, and so we thought we could, at the very least, instead, post a nice color image of the painting here in the news section. The provenance of this painting is somewhat dubious, and we were unable to identify the artist of this work apart from being of the English school of the late 18th century. We also came across another, much less flattering image of Chatterton which we, rather reluctantly, will also post below, if for no other reason than to make the painting look vastly more dignified than the black and white print which strikes us as being, well, for lack of a better word, goofy.
In other news, The Human Comedy, Vol. 4 is due back from the printer shortly, at which time it will need to be proofread; we are hoping for an early April release, subject, as always, to the slings and arrows of circumstance.
Your Humble Editor
Saturday 28 November 2015
Your Humble Editor is very pleased to announce that Noumena Press will be reprinting Irving Massey’s translation of Alfred de Vigny‘s novel Stello: A Session with Doctor Noir. I cannot remember exactly when I first heard about Stello, let alone its author (although it was likely a passing reference to them made in H.G. Schenk’s The Mind of the European Romantics), but after checking the Library of Congress to see if any of Vigny’s works had been translated into English (apart from Military Servitude and Grandeur), I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Stello had in fact been translated by Dr. Massey in 1963. After acquiring and reading a copy of this long out-of-print book, and finding it curiously engaging and surprisingly relevant to the world of today (such as it is), I found it sad that it was no longer in print, and decided to see if I could contact the translator. Dr. Massey and I soon began corresponding, and the rest, as they say, is history! I have really enjoyed working together with Dr. Massey on the NP reissue of Stello, and I sincerely appreciate the trust he has placed in us throughout the entire process of republishing his fine translation of an important and timely book. We have added a Translators section that provides a little more information on Dr. Massey and some of his other publications.
Stello is now available for order on Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and the Book Depository. Stello will also be our first e-book; the file is currently being prepared, and we hope to be able to offer it for sale soon.
The title says it all. Try not to die laughing!
Your Humble Editor
Thursday 30 October 2014
Your Humble Editor recently had the opportunity to visit the newly renovated, paradisical Clark Museum in Williamstown, Massachusetts , only to find . . .
Monday 7 July 2014 The passage that got Senancour in trouble and made him famous(for a while, anyway)
Senancour might have lived and died in complete and utter obscurity, were it not for his prosecution for “insulting Christianity” in the 2nd edition of his Résumé de l’Histoire des Traditions Morales et Religieuses (1827), wherein he might have implied that Jesus was not the son of God, but simply a “young sage.” This was enough for an overzealous public prosecutor to haul our hero into court, and he was sentenced to nine months in jail and a fine of 300 francs, though he successfully appealed his case and received no penalty. While Your Humble Editor was busy procrastinating, he wondered what it was exactly that Senancour wrote that so inflamed the powers that were. A search on the Internet Archive turned up a PDF of the Résumé, and the notorious passage, which he has proceeded to translate and share with you:
“Spiritual purification with water was widely used in the Orient. A hermit, perhaps belonging to a sect known as the Sabis that still existed in Persia in the time of Chardin, baptised his disciples on the shores of a stream in Judea―it was there that he baptized a young sage that the Jews soon placed among the prophets. This latter reformer seemed to have drawn upon some particular notion of a high doctrine, either in Egypt, from whence he returned, as we are told, or by listening to the Essenes or the most reasonable of the Pharisses. He was called Jesus.”
Not quite the scandal it was made out to be, eh? The public prosecutor must really have been scraping to find something to justify his salary if this was the best he could come up with. The liberal press in France had been following the case closely, and soon Senancour went from being a nobody to a famous victim of legal overreach. For Senancour, the Résumé was really just glorified hackwork he took on to keep a roof over his head, but it was this rather unremarkable book of his that led to the republication and appreciation of all his other, more serious works such as Obermann and Libres méditations d’un solitaire inconnu. Perhaps any publicity is good publicity then? In Senancour’s case it certainly seems that way.
Back to work (and yes, I’m still slaving away on Vol. 4, I haven’t forgotten!), Your Humble Editor
Saturday 11 May 2013 Progress Report & More Links
Your Humble Editor is hard at work on Volume 4 of The Human Comedy, and so far has worked his way through four of the six pieces in this volume, but with plenty of annotations and editing still to do. For this volume, it looks like there will be two appendices: one will be the story (really more of an anecdote) “The Affair of the Diamond” by French playwright Charles Dufresny, a work that gave Balzac the idea for Domestic Peace (sometimes translated as Peace in the House), the other will be a portion of Balzac’s introduction to an earlier edition of A Daughter of Eve.
And not to go completely overboard on more Balzac links, but, as one might imagine, there are relatively few articles on other writers we publish like Walter Pater and Senancour outside of academic journals, so that leaves our roly-poly, womanizing, raconteur extrordinaire . . .
Slate has recently been doing a series about writers and their various rituals, and Balzac has come up thrice, once because of his coffee addiction (which I think I mentioned in an earlier post), another time because of his napping, and finally because of his, well, uh . . . that other thing.
More soon!Your Humble Editor
Thursday 7 February 2013
Your Humble Editor is pleased to report that The Human Comedy, Vol. III: A Start in Life and Other Works is finally, finally, finally ready, and now available for purchase. I hope you will agree that it was worth the wait (I think you will!). Well, no rest for the wicked: Volume 4 is already underway.
Monday 26 March 2012 Correspondance, Balzac’s Paris, & More Coffee
Graham Robb, the author of an indispensable biography of Balzac, as well as many other fine works, recently wrote a review of a new volume of Balzac’s correspondence in the TLS, which Your Humble Editor thought might be of interest to his fellow Balzacians:
Also of interest is a very nice page from the University of California, Riverside that gives a guided tour of the Paris of Balzac’s day which, shortly after the author’s death, would soon become a very different city at the hands of Baron Haussmann:
And, not to completely run this into the ground, but since I’m doing Balzac links, here’s one more—and it makes me wish I lived in Ontario:
Balzac’s Coffee Roasters [dead link]
Share and Enjoy. Your Humble Editor
April 2011 A back-dated excuse and/or apology
Noumena Press has moved from Baltimore to lovely Hatfield in Western Massachusetts! And, despite how happy this may make us, our relocation and various other delays (unpacking, sick cats, a car that won’t start, and the like) will unfortunately mean that 2011 will be the first (and hopefully last) year where we do not release a new book. Because of the high amount of annotations and translation work required, The Human Comedy, Vol. 3: A Start in Life and Other Works will not be ready until 2012. It would be easy for us to rush out an incomplete and unsatisfactory edition, but since that goes against our credo, we felt that it would be better to spend more time and produce a better book. We think the end result will justify the extra time it has taken, and we greatly appreciate the continued patience of our readers. Full disclosure: when Your Humble Editor writes “we,” he is in fact referring to only himself and the lovely and talented (but alas part-time) art & layout designer Rachel Thern—so, having only a 1.5 person operation often makes for slow going. The cats (better now, thank you) have been somewhat reluctant to apply their considerable linguistic and editorial skills towards our ongoing publishing project, but we have our hopes that in the coming months they may be bribed into helping out if they are given their very own copies of Natsume Sōseki‘s I Am a Cat and a steady ration of tasty yum-yums.
For the purposes of pacification, here are two leavings related to Obermann that we’ve been meaning to post but have neglected to do so for one reason or another:
The first is a photograph from Michaut’s Senancour, ses amis et ses ennemis that we did not end up using:
There was, additionally, a portrait of Senancour’s daughter, but it was so utterly unflattering that not only did we decide not to post it here, we hope that all traces of it are lost forever! (Yes, it was really that bad).
Your Humble Editor also neglected to include a mention in the endnotes of Franz Liszt’s piano suite La Valée d’Obermann which forms part of his Années de pèlerinage, 1st Year, a series of compositions that were inspired by his travels to Switzerland, and, of course, Senancour’s book. The following is a link to a page on Naxos Records, where a portion of Liszt’s composition may be previewed (track 6, login required).
Thanks again for your continued patience! Your Humble Editor
Monday 17 May 2010
Time at last for “coming soon” to come down, and some actual news to be posted.
We’ve had a great response to our first two volumes of Balzac‘s Human Comedy, and we’ve had a number of inquiries as to when the other books in the series will appear.
Originally, we had planned to alternately release a volume of the Human Comedy with the work of another writer in the interest of providing some variety for our readers (and also to keep Your Humble Editor from going off his rocker—Balzac is one of literature’s great name-droppers, and many of the names, places, events, etc. that he makes reference to are not very well known in the English speaking world and therefore require a fairly significant amount of annotation), but because of the demand for further volumes of Balzac’s masterpiece, we will most likely release a Vol. 4 after Vol. 3 rather than focusing on another author.
We appreciate everyone’s patience, and to tide over all you Balzacians (actually a word!) would like to share with you the following link about Balzac’s coffee addiction:
Above is an image of the plate that will probably be used as the basis for the cover of Volume 3: A Start in Life and Other Works.
Thank you and happy reading, Your Humble Editor