London: Eragny Press, 1900. Sextodecimo. Bound in original quarter cream cloth, with blue Michallet boards, and printed paper label on the upper left cover. [iii], 4-92 pp. [ix]. Cloth split at outer joint with the upper board, some mild soiling to the covers, but internally clean and bright. Printed in Charles Ricketts’ Vale Type. One of 226 copies. Item #8
This small book was the first of three uniform volumes of Flaubert issued by the Pissarros. 'Un Coeur Simple' and 'Hérodias' both followed in 1901. All three novellas were taken from 'Trois Contes' (1877), the last work of Flaubert’s to be published before his death in 1880. Inspired by a thirteenth century stained-glass window in Rouen Cathedral, 'Saint Julien' recounts the tragic, but ultimately redeemed life of the eponymous saint. Julien commits parricide unknowingly, becomes a peripatetic, and takes up penance as a ferryman. One evening a leper appears at the river-crossing, and after bearing him across in a hail storm, Julien offers the man hospitality. Julien tends to the stranger, gives him food and drink, and wraps him in the sail of his boat. Lying in the bed which Julien has yielded to him, the man finally reveals himself as Christ. Julien’s penance is accepted, and he is borne up to heaven in a 'unio mystica'. Lucien Pissarro’s wood-engraved frontispiece depicts the stag which, in Flaubert’s version of the 'Legend', augurs Julien’s parricide. Though Flaubert refused to authorize any illustrations of this work, apart from a reproduction of the window at Rouen, we feel that he would have been receptive to Pissarro’s frontispiece, with its poignant serenity and its shape evoking a rose window. [Genz, EP 7; Tomkinson, EP 6].
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