Alcools - Poèmes - (1898-1913)

APOLLINAIRE Guillaume (1913)


Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.


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 (wrappers 

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

‘One of the most astonishing works along with Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations that French poetry has produced’ (Albert Camus quoted by Francis Steegmuller).

Handsome first edition, ordinary paper issue, number 378 from a total edition of 567 numbered copies, of which 23 were printed on Hollande van Gelder paper. Apollinaire’s second book, the first being the extremely limited Bestiaire of 1911. This, the ordinary edition initially sold very well, 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. Reviews were mixed, one of them describing Apollinaire as an ‘enchanting junk dealer’.

A few of the poems had been published earlier, and there is a substantial group of poems written whilst he was living in the Rhineland serving as a tutor at Neuglück. The portrait frontispice is by Picasso, one of a number of sketches done by the artist of Apollinaire.

Apollinaire had a bizarre geniture and early life. One of the two sons of an itinerant femme galante of distinguished Polish lineage, from the moment he settled in Paris he became a noted literary and artistic figure. He served in WWI and was wounded in the head on March 17 1917 when he was removed from the front line to hospital in Paris. Not all the shell fragments were initially removed from his head, and because of pressure on the brain he was trepanned. It is with his head bandaged that Picasso (and others) drew him. Whilst working as a censor he fell ill with pulmonary congestion which was exacerbated by his corpulence. It was however Spanish Flu which carried him off two days before the Armistice on 9 November 1918. 

André Bill, who knew him, writes in the preface to the Pléiade edition (p. xliii) 'Ses obsèques ne pouvaient être celles de n'importe qui. Con convoi funènebre suit le boulevard jusqu' à la Bastille et le Père-Lachaise à travers une foule délirante encore de la joie de l'armistice. Il 'n'y eut pas de discours' il n'y eut que des larmes. Nous pleurions sur lui; nous pleurions sur nous qu'il avait quittés, emportant notre jeunesse et nos plaisirs'.

Talvart & Place I, 80.

Stock Code: 228484

close zoom-in zoom-out close zoom