Sims Reed Rare Books×


Hugo, Valentine. Motte-Fouqué, Frédéric-Henri-Charles de la. (Trans. Jean Thorel)

Paris. Librairie José Corti. 1943
The nominatif copy printed for Dominique Corticchiato - the son of publisher José Corti - with the additional suite of lithographs by Valentine Hugo.

From the edition limited to 1,000 copies, with this one of the 10 copies on Annam 'réservés à la librairie José Corti', 'imprimé spécialement pour Dominique Corticchiato' and with the additional suite of all of Valentine Hugo's lithographs.

Valentine Hugo's illusrations for 'Ondine' follow a long (and continuing) tradition. de la Motte-Fouqué's 'Ondine' (or 'Undine') is an influential novella, first published in 1811, that tells of the eponymous water spirit or nymph who marries a human in order to gain a soul. Inspired in turn by Paracelsus - he coined the neologism - and the resulting Rosicrucian novel 'Comte de Gabalis' and opera 'Das Donauweibchen'. de la Motte-Fouqué's version was adapted as an opera (he wrote the libretto) with music by E. T. A. Hoffmann in 1816, a ballet in the 1840s (later ballet versions followed), was a source for Hans Christian Andersen, as well as numerous further poems, novels, paintings and films.

The publisher José Corti (1895 - 1984), born José Corticchiato in Vitry-sur-Seine of Corsican origin, published many of the most important works of Surrealist literature - the list is long - and many illustrated also by Surrealist artists. He founded 'Editions Surréalistes' in 1925 and then the eponymous 'Editions José Corti' in the late 1930s. During the Occupation Corti continued to publish clandestinely and through the foolishness of another, François le Lionnais, the Gestapo became suspicious. Corti's wife and nineteen year-old son, Dominique were both arrested, interned and sent to concentration camps. While Corti's wife returned, their son did not. Corti retained his son's nominatif copies throughout his own life.

This copy of 'Ondine' with the additional suite in a glassine wrapper is preserved in a brown envelope inscribed 'Dessins / pour / Ondine' in blue crayon by Valentine Hugo. This is presented within a further (and larger) brown envelope inscribed 'Monsieur José Corti / rue de Médicis / FRAGILE' in the hand of Valentine Hugo and with the additional 'de Madame V. HUGO 2 rue de Sontay'.
pp. 145, (i), (i), (iii). 8vo. (188 x 122 mm). Half-title in italic, printed title with portrait vignette by Valentine Hugo in blue and chapters I - XIX of de la Motte-Fouqué's text illustrated with 19 monochrome lithographs by Hugo and final turquoise lithograph tail-piece, 'Table' and final leaf with justification and achevé d'imprimer recto together with the additional suite of all of the lithographs loose in a glassine wrapper; the 21 original lithographs by Hugo printed by Mourlot, Paris. Original publisher's cream printed wrappers with title in turquoise within decorative frame to front cover, title to spine in black, book and discrete suite loose in large brown envelope (see below).

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