Friday, November 1st, 2013...2:03 pm

La main enchantée

Jump to Comments

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

Today from the Santo Domingo Collection, we have a handsomely designed volume: this edition of La main enchantée (The enchanted hand), a fantasy story by the French author and poet Gérard Labrunie, who wrote under the pen name Gérard de Nerval. (Students of French literary biography may best remember Nerval for taking his pet lobster, Thibault, for walks in the Palais Royal gardens.) Nerval originally published this story in the newspaper Le cabinet de lecture in 1832, under the title “La main de gloire”. In it, a timorous clothier named Eustache Bouteroue seeks to triumph in an impending duel by putting an enchantment on one of his hands, then attempts to renege on payment for said enchantment, with predictably dire results.

This edition, printed for the literary society Les Bibliophiles Franco-Suisses, includes numerous engravings by the illustrator Louise Ibels. In the illustration pictured here, Bouteroue’s magical hand autonomously slaps the face of a magistrate, sealing his fate. This copy, printed for society member Laurent Meeûs, is extra-illustrated with an additional suite of the engravings, as well as two of Ibels’s original drawings. At the end of the volume are a facsimile of one of Nerval’s manuscript poems, as well as a menu for the celebratory dinner held by the Bibliophiles for La main enchantée’s publication.

The volume is bound in black morocco and marbled paper by the Ateliers Laurenchet, with gilt edges and stamping; the original wrappers and spine are bound in.

Gérard de Nerval. La main enchantée. [Paris]: Les Bibliophiles Franco-Suisses, 1938. FC8.G3125.938m.

Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.

Comments are closed.