Alcools - Poèmes - (1898-1913). Paris [Tours, E. Arrault et Cie.], Mercure de France, 20 April, 1913.

APOLLINAIRE Guillaume (1913)


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Frontispiece portrait by Picasso, penultimate leaf with achevé d’imprimer.

8vo (182 x 115mm). 204, [4]pp. Black half morocco by J.P. Miguet, original yellow wrappers bound in, last leaf a blank. 

Paris [Tours, E. Arrault et Cie]: Mercure de France, 20 April, 1913.

Handsome first edition of ‘one of the most astonishing works along with Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations that French poetry has produced’ (Albert Camus quoted by Francis Steegmuller). This ordinary paper issue is number 378 from a total edition of 567 numbered copies, of which 23 were printed on Hollande van Gelder paper.

A central figure in avant-garde literary and artistic circles in Paris at the turn of the twentieth century, Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) had already published one volume of poetry, Le Bestiaire in 1911, but it was Alcools that made his name. This, the ordinary edition initially sold very well, with some 350 copies racing off the shelves in the first year. However in the second year only four copies were sold, and in 1915 and 1916 only seven and five respectively. Reviews were mixed, one of them describing Apollinaire as an ‘enchanting junk dealer’.

The portrait frontispiece by Picasso is one of a number of sketches done by the artist and depicts Apollinaire with his head bandaged, following shrapnel wounds sustained at the front line during service in the French Army in the First World War. He wouldn’t see its end; he fell ill with Spanish flu and died two days before the Armistice on 9 November, 1918. André Bill described Apollinaire’s funeral in the preface to the Pléiade edition (p.xliii; our translation); ‘His funeral procession followed the road past the Bastille and Père-Lachaise, through a crowd still delirious with the joy of the Armistice. There was no talking, only tears. We wept for him and for ourselves, whom he had left behind, taking with him our youth and our joys.’

Talvart & Place I, 80.

Stock Code: 228484

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