X hits on this document

154 views

0 shares

0 downloads

0 comments

28 / 70

point-lace, for which La Fontaine liked to ruin himself.  Let a

binding, a la fanfare, in the style of Thouvenin, denote a novelist

of the last century, let panelled Russia leather array a folio of

Shakespeare, and let English works of a hundred years ago be clothed

in the sturdy fashion of Roger Payne.  Again, the bibliophile may

prefer to have the leather stamped with his arms and crest, like de

Thou, Henri III., D'Hoym, Madame du Barry, and most of the

collectors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  Yet there

are books of great price which one would hesitate to bind in new

covers.  An Aldine or an Elzevir, in its old vellum or paper

wrapper, with uncut leaves, should be left just as it came from the

presses of the great printers.  In this condition it is a far more

interesting relic.  But a morocco case may be made for the book, and

lettered properly on the back, so that the volume, though really

unbound, may take its place with the bound books on the shelves.  A

copy of any of Shelley's poems, in the original wrappers, should I

venture to think be treated thus, and so should the original

editions of Keats's and of Mr. Tennyson's works.  A collector, who

is also an author, will perhaps like to have copies of his own works

in morocco, for their coats will give them a chance of surviving the

storms of time.  But most other books, not of the highest rarity and

interest, will be sufficiently clothed in half-bindings, that is,

with leather backs and corners, while the rest of the cover is of

cloth or paper, or whatever other substance seems most appropriate.

An Oxford tutor used to give half-binding as an example of what

Aristotle calls [Greek text], or "shabbiness," and when we recommend

such coverings for books it is as a counsel of expediency, not of

perfection.  But we cannot all be millionaires; and, let it be

remembered, the really wise amateur will never be extravagant, nor

let his taste lead him into "the ignoble melancholy of pecuniary

embarrassment."  Let the example of Charles Nodier be our warning;

nay, let us remember that while Nodier could get out of debt by

selling his collection, OURS will probably not fetch anything like

what we gave for it.  In half-bindings there is a good deal of room

for the exercise of the collector's taste.  M. Octave Uzanne, in a

tract called "Les Caprices d'un Bibliophile," gives some hints on

this topic, which may be taken or let alone.  M. Uzanne has noticed

the monotony, and the want of meaning and suggestion in ordinary

half-bindings.  The paper or cloth which covers the greater part of

the surface of half-bound books is usually inartistic and even ugly.

He proposes to use old scraps of brocade, embroidery, Venice velvet,

or what not; and doubtless a covering made of some dead fair lady's

train goes well with a romance by Crebillon, and engravings by

Marillier.  "Voici un cartonnage Pompadour de notre invention," says

M. Uzanne, with pride; but he observes that it needs a strong will

to make a bookbinder execute such orders.  For another class of

books, which our honest English shelves reject with disgust, M.

Uzanne proposes a binding of the skin of the boa constrictor;

undoubtedly appropriate and "admonishing."  The leathers of China

and Japan, with their strange tints and gilded devices may be used

for books of fantasy, like "Gaspard de la Nuit," or the "Opium

Eater," or Poe's poems, or the verses of Gerard de Nerval.  Here, in

short, is an almost unexplored field for the taste of the

Document info
Document views154
Page views154
Page last viewedSun Dec 04 20:48:35 UTC 2016
Pages70
Paragraphs3419
Words36705

Comments