PARIS.- Containing some 1,600 books, precious manuscripts dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries and scores, some hundred pieces of this collection will be shown in a travelling exhibition, in Monaco, New York, Hong Kong and London during the summer and autumn of 2015. The first section will be sold in Paris on 11 December at the Hôtel Drouot, under the hammer of Antoine Godeau.
This first sale will be offering a magnificent selection of over one hundred and fifty pieces of literary interest covering six centuries, from the first edition of Saint Augustines Confessions, printed in Strasbourg in around 1470, to William Burroughs Scrap Book 3, published in 1979.
The thematic sales that are to follow in 2016 and 2017 will feature not only literary works, the core of the collection, but also books on botany, creative gardening, music and the exploration of major philosophical and political themes. The experts are Stéphane Clavreuil, Benoît Forgeot and Michel Scognamillo.
Portrait of a Life
Pierre Bergés library reflects the course of a singular life. As a young man captivated by literature, he left La Rochelle just before taking his Baccalaureate exams, impatient to write the novel of his life. Initially guided by writers who were both mentors and friends, including Pierre Mac Orlan, Jean Cocteau and Jean Giono, he worked as an antiquarian book dealer, and gradually developed a passion for collecting. No longer merely a reader but a bibliophile, he developed a keen interest in both texts and the quality of books fine- and large-paper copies, bindings contemporary with the edition, annotated copies
The 1,600-odd works making up his collection functioned as rootstock, where the items echoed and cross-referenced each other with each successive dedication and provenance, revealing sometimes unsuspected links between people and ideas.
People will talk about the Bergé taste, just as we talk about a Noailles taste, as Yves Saint Laurent once said. While the dispersion of the artwork and furniture collections in 2009 bore out the couturiers prediction, the library will provide further, perhaps even more significant proof, because it reveals a more intimate aspect.
This Bergé taste is embodied first of all in a selectivity that runs counter to mere accumulation a selectivity dictated by a keen eye, loyalties, and a penchant for living objects marked by their successive provenances and links between various intellectual and artistic figures. Faithful to Stirners maxim, whereby there is no such thing as freedom; only free men, the collector avoided any obligatory route, any kind of best of, following only his own likes and admirations and his aversions, too. And if the Bergé taste has meaning, it is because this rigorous, even stern selectivity serves a passion for things written and printed. We thus discover a copy of Chamforts maxims feverishly annotated by Stendhal; a libertine novel from the Marquis de Sades library; the Notice littéraire sur Théophile Gautier given by its author Charles Baudelaire to Gustave Flaubert, and a first edition of Treasure Island, 1883, which belonged to William Ernest Henley, a friend of Robert Louis Stevensons, and the model for Long John Silver. It is also a world library with no distinction between cultures, as Pierre Bergé sought out the works of his favourite authors in their original language. Hence the presence of numerous Russians (including Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev and Mayakovsky), Americans like Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman and Gertrude Stein, British authors from Shakespeare to Joyce, Italian writers (Dante, Petrarch, Tasso, Casanova, Svevo
), Cervantes, the Portuguese writers Camõens and Pessoa, and numerous German-speaking writers, poets and philosophers like Grimm, Kleist, Schopenhauer, Hölderlin, Goethe, Schiller, Georg Trakl, Walter Benjamin and Paul Celan.
According to his biographer Béatrice Peyrani, in Le Faiseur dEtoiles, Pierre Bergé, as an adventurer, businessman and man of convictions, worships the rare object: a religion he celebrated throughout his life; a pagan worship combining high standards with pleasure. As the bibliophile once said, Collecting books, like objets dart, has always given me the keenest joy: it demands a great deal of someone, and thats what keeps us alert and able to learn!
Long kept secret, this library will reveal an unknown facet of the man who dedicated his life to all forms of creation a genuine laying-bare of an eminently literary journey in which the book, in all its forms, played a leading role.
An Invitation to Travel: Six Centuries of Literature
On 11 December 2015, the first sale will be proposing over a hundred and fifty manuscripts and printed books of literary interest. with this selection, organised chronologically, Pierre Bergé invites readers to a journey through six centuries of literature a voyage invigorated by the winds of the high seas, with a wealth of nationalities and genres.
The Bergé library contains a number of venerable examples from the early days of printing in the 15th century. The first of them going up for auction is one of the most precious: the first edition published in Strasbourg in around 1470, of Saint Augustines Confessions, one of the masterworks of European culture. The book was published on the presses of the German-born Johannes Mentelin, a former colleague of Gutenbergs. Mentelins pioneering tome will be followed by a number of equally remarkable incunabula, including the Deifira, a dialogue on the art of love by the Genoese architect and humanist Leon Battista Alberti (Padua, 1471), Dantes Divina commedia, printed in Brescia in 1487, embellished with woodcuts, and a first edition of Homers works in Greek, published in Florence in 1488.
In the period of Humanism, poetry occupied a prominent place, illustrated by several volumes in the Bergé library: a first edition of Alain Chartiers Fais (Paris, 1489) containing two poems by François Villon; Petrarchs seminal series of poems, the Sonetti, Canzoni & Trionfi, published in Milan in 1507; an ornamented calligraphed manuscript of c. 1535 containing letters and poems by François I; an early edition of François Villons works (1532, in round letters); LAdolescence Clementine by Clément Marot, printed by the typographer and humanist Geoffroy Tory (1532); a copy of the extremely rare Délie by Maurice Scève (1544), one of the leading lights of Renaissance poetry; the 1553 edition of Ronsards Amours the first complete copy, notably containing the original edition of Mignonne, allons voir si la rose; an impeccable copy in its original vellum binding of the Oeuvres of 1555 by Louise Labé (an extremely rare gem in any literary collection); the Recueil de poésie by Joachim du Bellay, published in 1562, and a 1597 edition of the Portuguese literary monument Os Lusiadas, composed over nearly 25 years by the soldier poet Luis de Camões.
From the 16th century, the Bergé library also features a first edition of Montaignes Essais, Frances greatest book, self-published in 1580: this copy is one of the four extant period copies in vellum.
In the 17th century, literary glories made their appearance first of all on stage. Pierre Bergé collected some choice pieces from this golden age of theatre: a series of six first editions of Corneille published between 1644 and 1650; a copy of the works of Shakespeare printed in 1664; first editions of Racines Esther and Athalie, each in their original morocco binding, compete with the scores for the music especially composed for the first performances, and a copy of the works of Molière published in 1697, bound in morocco at the time for the Marquis de La Vieuville, one of the most celebrated oddities of the end of the century.
The 17th century was also that of the moralists. Pierre Bergés library contains a complete collection in their original bindings of six Oraisons funèbres by Bossuet, the only ones published in his lifetime; Blaise Pascals Pensées in a binding with the arms of Colberts brother-inlaw; La Bruyères Caractères (1689), in a red morocco binding of the period with the arms of Jean-Baptiste Henrion, and a first edition of La Fontaines Fables, in a period binding.
These landmarks in French classical literature are echoed by outstanding printed works from other European cities, such as the Don Quixote published in Lisbon in 1605 in Spanish: the third edition, which appeared in the same year as the original Madrid edition, bearing witness to the unparalleled success of Cervantes novel. In 1623, in Florence, Michelangelos great-nephew published the poems of his great-uncle for the first time, revealing the intimate side of the Renaissance painter and sculptor (a superb example in its original vellum binding), while Leiden, in the Netherlands, was where Descartes first published his Discours de la méthode: this copy in period vellum is in impeccable condition.
Among the 17th centurys reprobates we find an edition of the works of the King of Libertines, Théophile de Viau, the first of the accursed poets after Villon. There is also one of the few copies of the first exotic novel in French, published in 1697, Le Zombi du Grand Perou by the adventurer, writer, pamphleteer, murderer, womaniser, soldier and then deserter Pierre Corneille Blessebois, rediscovered and rehabilitated in the 19th century by Charles Nodier, who owned the copy in the Bergé collection.
Last but not least, we find a masterpiece of precious literature, LAstrée, Honoré dUrfés immense pastoral novel, in its richly decorated period morocco binding.
In the following century, the lions share goes to the philosophers. In the battle of ideas stoked by the Enlightenment, a number of books profoundly changed the intellectual landscape, and Pierre Bergé sought out some choice examples, such as a first edition, in an emblazoned binding, of Montesquieus Lettres persanes, the prayer book of the Marquis de Vauvenargues, the Introduction à la connaissance de lesprit humain published in 1746, an exceptional copy with arms of the very first Geneva edition of Voltaires Candide, published in 1759, and the first edition of Rousseaus Emile (1762), in a beautiful morocco binding of the time. We can also mention Swifts philosophical novel Gullivers Travels (Travels into several remote nations of the world by Lemuel Gulliver) and, like a hand reaching out to former times, a first edition of Montaignes Journal du voyage en Italie, especially bound for the philosophers friend, the Marquise du Deffand, with the distinctive guilt cat she used on her library bindings.
The library also includes several celebrated books from libertine literature, including Choderlos de Laclos masterpiece of the genre, Les Liaisons dangereuses, 1782; an impeccable copy in a contemporary binding of Casanovas Fuite des plombs (1787), the only fragment of his Memoirs published in the authors lifetime; the copy of Monsieur Nicolas by Restif de la Bretonne that belonged to Edmond de Goncourt, and a famous licentious novel, Félicia ou Mes fredaines by the Chevalier de Nerciat. While the latter is relatively common, this copy is unique for its provenance, because it bears the autograph signature of the author of The 120 days of Sodom on the half-title page. Pierre Bergé also had the great fortune to acquire the last autograph erotic manuscript by Sade: Les Journées de Florbelle. This was the only notebook to have survived when the authors son and a police commissioner seized the manuscript volumes of the Marquis de Sades huge mature novel from his home and burned them, considering them too scandalous for publication. The rediscovery of this manuscript, which had been lost for decades, was recently celebrated by Annie Le Brun, who exhibited it at the Musee dOrsay among the treasures of the exhibition Sade: attaquer le soleil.
Again from the Enlightenment, we find Goethes Das Römische Carneval, embellished with finely-coloured engravings of costumes (Berlin, 1789: the copy as published, in softback), and a first edition of the only novel written by Hölderlin, Hyperion, a key book in German literature and one of the most difficult to find.
The Bergé library is positively lavish with exceptional volumes from the 19th century, that period of great, abundant and wide-ranging literature. They include a copy of Considérations sur les principaux événements de la Révolution française by Madame de Staël, lengthily and furiously annotated by Stendhal, and, again by Madame de Staël, the edition she prepared and prefaced of the Lettres et Pensées du prince de Ligne (1809), a copy bound for emperor Napoleon I probably the only known volume by the exile of Coppet with the arms of the man she regarded as a modern day Attila.
We also find Le Monde comme il est, Astolphe de Custines roman noir (1835), bound for the empress Marie-Louise; Victor Hugos play Hernani, a manifesto of Romanticism (1830), containing an autograph envoi to Prosper Mérimée; and, dating from over forty years later (1867), Paris, the famous cry of love to France from the poet, now exiled in Guernsey, with an autograph envoi to Verlaine. In 1832, Hugo dedicated a first edition of Le Roi samuse to Gérard de Nerval, one of the rarest known books to have belonged to the poet of Chimères.
From this century seething with European literature, we find an extremely rare complete copy of Grimms Fairy Tales (Kinder und Haus Marchen, 1812-1822); Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice; one of the gems of German Romanticism, Hoffmanns Prinzessin Brambilla (1821), containing an extremely rare autograph dedication; a copy of Shelleys Adonais, miraculously preserved as published, and a positive firework display of Russian first editions: Pushkins Poltava (1829) in softback; an incredibly rare Boris Godunov, with a decorated period binding; Gogols Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka his first book in prose (1831-1832); The Possessed, at the time called The Demons (Bésy) by Dostoyevsky, of 1873; Tolstoys Anna Karenina; In the Twilight, 1887, and a collection of short stories by Chekov inscribed to his friend, the actor Pavel Svobodin. The collection is all the more remarkable given the rarity of Russian first editions.
As well as eminent works by Balzac (Le Lys dans la vallée, 1836, with an envoi to the duchesse de Castries, and Physiologie du mariage, 1834, with its bonus of an extraordinary erotic dedication), Pierre Bergé sought out other major texts of the 19th century: for example, Mademoiselle de Maupin, published by Théophile Gautier in 1835-1836 with its famous preface-manifesto (this copy is none other than the one that belonged to Balzac); the copy of De lamour Stendhal gave his friend Luigi Buzzi; Leopardis Canti and Operette morali, two masterpieces of Italian literature, in period binding; Charles Dickens personal copy of David Copperfield (1850), and Les Filles du feu by Gérard de Nerval (1854), one of nine extant copies bearing autograph inscriptions (this one is addressed to Mr. Bertrand, the uncle of Dr. Blanche in whose clinic the author was treated).
The Bergé library also contains an extraordinary literary relic: the review Le Carrousel (1836-1837). On this copy, Gérard Labrunie signed his nom de plume, Gérard de Nerval, for the first time.
The Great Flaubert
Pierre Bergé collected many remarkable pieces by his favourite author, including the copy of Madame Bovary (first edition, 1857) Gustave Flaubert gave to Victor Hugo: To the Master, in memory and homage. Copies of other works by Flaubert are also enriched with impressive envois, like Salammbô (1863), dedicated to Alexandre Dumas fils; LEducation sentimentale (1870), a present to George Sand from her old troubadour; La Tentation de Saint Antoine (1874), given to Guy de Maupassant, whom I love as a son, and the Trois contes (1877) inscribed to Jérôme Bonapartes daughter, princess Mathilde, whose salon the novelist frequently attended.
On the manuscript side, Pierre Bergé was lucky enough to acquire the collection of autograph notes, sketches, plans and scenarios for LEducation sentimentale: a genuine laboratory for the future novel, showing the different versions considered by the author, as well as the novelists unremitting labours.
It would be hard to bring together a more significant collection.
Poetry and the Poetic
As regards Baudelaire, Pierre Bergé acquired the first edition of Les Fleurs du Mal dedicated by the poet to Sainte-Beuve, assuring him of his filial friendship.
Meanwhile, Verlaine gave Auguste Poulet-Malassis (the publisher of Les Fleurs du Mal) a copy of his first collection, Poèmes saturniens, printed in a run of 500 in 1866. Two other volumes seem to be pendants to each other: a copy of a first edition of Là-bas inscribed by Huysmans to Paul Verlaine, and another where Jules Barbey dAurevilly has calligraphed a dedication in red and black ink with gold highlights in the front of Les Diaboliques (1874):To Mr Joris Karl Huysmans: the signature of the author, which despite the title, is not that of the Devil. J.
Thus, through envois that make references to each other, links are woven throughout this singular collection, providing further instance of the Bergé taste.
The set of corrected proofs of Les Poètes maudits shows Verlaines efforts to gain final recognition for three major poets in the second half of the 19th century: Tristan Corbière, Stéphane Mallarmé and Arthur Rimbaud.
In the extraordinary copy in sections of the lithographed first edition of Stéphane Mallarmés first collection of poems, published in a run of 47 in 1887, each section is inscribed to the woman who was Manets mistress and model, Mery Laurent. The dedications, all different, reflect his gradually changing feelings, and form a kind of love poem. The only existing set of proofs for the edition of Valentines planned by Germain Nouveau in 1887 bear witness to the last years of one of the centurys great poets: after a mystical crisis, he had destroyed the manuscript and abandoned its publication.
A copy of William Morriss huge epic poem The Earthly Paradise was given by the author to John Ruskin: a tribute from the disciple to his master. The reprobate of Victorian England, Oscar Wilde, dedicated his Dorian Gray to Henri de Régnier, from his friend and admirer.
At the Lycée Condorcet in Paris, in 1886-1887, a group of youngsters who had gathered around Marcel Proust (then aged sixteen) published a literary review called Le Lundi under the aegis of Sainte-Beuve. Five contributions of remarkable rarity bear witness to the first attempts of the future author of A la recherche du temps perdu, one of the gems of the Bergé library. Ten years later, in 1896, the Merdre! bellowed by Ubu roi caused a scandal. Alfred Jarry gave a first edition copy to one of his close circle: Rachilde, wife of the editor of Le Mercure de France, Alfred Valette, as a Homage from Mr. Ubu.
André Gide was the capital contemporary for several generations. For Pierre Bergé, he was a source of literary enthusiasm as well as a guide. Bergés library contains the autograph manuscript of Les Cahiers dAndré Walter, André Gides first book, as well as a fine-paper copy of Paludes (1895), given to Monsieur Stéphane Mallarmé, our most venerated master.
Likewise, the first edition of LImmoraliste (1902) bears an inscription to Léon Blum, the friend Gide met in 1888 in a philosophy class at the Lycée Henri IV.
These precious relics of Gide pass the baton between the centuries, so to speak.
Two major names usher in the 20th century: two committed men, to whom Pierre Bergé was loyal Octave Mirbeau (whose pitiless Journal dune femme de chambre, published in 1900, is dedicated here to Anatole France), and the torch-bearing Emile Zola, whose thundering Jaccuse changed the course of the times. Pierre Bergé also possesses a collection of texts on the Dreyfus Affair inscribed to my dear wife, in gratitude for her loyalty and courage during three terrible years that caused her so much torment and suffering, with all my grateful and heartfelt affection. The copy was covered by Alexandrine Zola with an embroidered binding she made herself.
However, chronology is not only counted in hundreds, and while the century officially began in 1900, its true change of character only emerged thirteen years later, in 1913: a year of boldness and innovation announcing the birth of modernity year one of the new world to which Pierre Bergé wished to pay tribute.
On the eve of the catastrophe that plunged the world into chaos, Apollinaire published Alcools, with a frontispiece portrait by Pablo Picasso (the copy was inscribed to the Belgian poet André Fontainas); Stravinsky performed The Rite of Spring (here we have the copy given to the conductor of the first performance, Pierre Monteux); Blaise Cendrars published La Prose du Transsibérien embellished with abstract (or simultaneist) compositions by Sonia Delaunay; Franz Kafka published his first book Betrachtung, a collection of 18 short texts on the transmutation of reality; Marinetti announced the triumph of Futurism; Marcel Proust launched into the In Search of Lost Time with Swanns Way; AlainFournier and Péguy, both soon to be cut down in the first wave on the Front, produced Le Grand Meaulnes (with an envoi to Thomas Hardy) and Eve; Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger, like Apollinaire, celebrated Cubism; in Russia, Ossip Mandelstam launched his first collection consisting of 23 poems, and in Austria, a young poet influenced by Rimbaud, Georg Trakl, published one of the most outstanding collections in German literature, Gedichte, before committing suicide, faced with the horror of war (the only known inscribed copy, this copy contains an autograph poem).
Just before the break-out of war that self-destruction of a civilisation now in its golden age (Cyril Connolly) the impeccable Kahnweiler published one of the most beautiful illustrated books on Picasso, Le Siège de Jérusalem by Max Jacob, with three Cubist-style etchings. Pierre Bergé had his copy (one of the first 15, on Japan paper) bound by the contemporary Belgian bookbinder Louise Bescons. This binding, produced exactly 100 years after the books publication, seems to hand on the torch, as a profession of faith in the future of the book. For his part, on 25 April 1914, Raymond Roussel gave a copy on Japan paper of his Locus Solus to Marcel Proust. This copy joins another volume in the library by the author of La Recherche: El Greco, the monograph Maurice Ferris devoted to the Spanish painter in 1911. The edition was dedicated to the flamboyant Robert de Montesquiou, who passed on a copy to his friend Marcel Proust in memory of the dedicatee.
Surrealism occupies a speaking place in the Bergé library, notably with the extraordinary autograph manuscript of Nadja. This first draft of André Bretons masterpiece, containing numerous variants, has remained unpublished to date: its rediscovery is a real event. Meanwhile, a copy of LAir de leau, published in 1934 with engravings by Alberto Giacometti, contains six original preparatory drawings by the painter together with a rejected engraving: André Breton offered it to the closest of his companions of these heroic times, the poet Paul Eluard, The man whose name rang out by far the clearest in my life. If he were here, I could still imagine, even desperate, being happy.
In 1931, René Crevel inscribed his Dali ou LAnti-obscurantisme to Paul Valéry. The enraged Surrealists dedication, as a simple homage to the exquisite poet of La Jeune Parque, is as surprising as it is laconic. Louis-Ferdinand Célines inscription in the first edition of Voyage au bout de la nuit is also surprising: To Mons. André Gide, my very respectful and sincere homage, Louis Céline. And again surprising is the provenance of a French first edition of Ulysses, published by Adrienne Monnier in 1929, which the publisher gave to Antonin Artaud.
Meanwhile, the envoi added by Musil to the copy of The Man without Qualities (Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, 1930) is very moving: it is made to Dr Hugo Lukacs, the psychiatrist who helped the author to get over his writers block.
In more cryptic style, Gertrude Stein sent her Paris France to the painter Pablo Picasso in 1941 with the inscription To Pablo, my painting on your wall, always. Picassos famous portrait of the author, to which Gertrude Stein alludes, took three months to complete. It now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Finally, what happened when in 1949, the existentialist icon Simone de Beauvoir received Précis de décomposition by a Romanian writer as yet unknown, accompanied by a respectful tribute? Nothing the volume was not cut, and the very virginity of the copy said much about Ciorans reception in France.
The chapter devoted to the 20th century also opens the door wide to world literature. Constantin Cavafys Poiemata, a collection of 38 poems printed in Alexandria in a limited run, and not for sale, by Kasimate and Iona between 1924 and 1926, is in itself a precious volume; Pierre Bergés copy is more precious still, as it contains an inscription and the autograph manuscript of the early poem To pro skali (The First Step), the manifesto poem on the values that dominated the realm of literature. The copy of Kafkas Der Prozess (The Trial) is immaculate, with the box and publishers jacket in the condition in which it first appeared. Federico Garcia Lorcas Poema del cante jondo (1931) was given as a gift with a warm inscription: A mi querido amigo el grande escritor Pedro Mourlane Michelena a surprising destination for these poems with the wild sensuality typical of the Basque writer and journalist, who was a member of the Phalange and an declared reactionary
The first edition of Mensagem, 1934, is inscribed by Pessoa to Pierre Hourcade, its translator into French, com un grande abraço. It is true that the Frenchman played a decisive role in the discovery outside Portugal of the greatest Lusitanian poet since Camões. And we can also mention Primo Levis masterpiece Se questo è un uomo, published two years after the war in 1947: one of the most outstanding books that came out of the horror of the concentration camps.
The contemporary period is notably illustrated by two volumes at the crossroads of art and literature: Barakei (Killed by Roses) by Mishima, illustrated with 45 magnificent photographic portraits of the Japanese writer by Eikoh Hosoe, and William S. Burroughs Scrap Book 3, printed in a run of 30, which prolongs the experience of the Beat Generation in cheeky, sophisticated vein.
Jean Giono was far more than a literary enthusiasm for Pierre Bergé. The garden of the writers house in Manosque contained a little house, now gone, where Pierre Bergé and Bernard Buffet lived. The copy of LEcossais, a littleknown book by Giono published in 1955, bears an inscription by the author recalling happy times: To Pierre Bergé, to Bernard Buffet, from their loyal Jean Giono.
But if there was one literary friendship which marked Pierre Bergés life, it was Jean cocteaus. and as you would expect, the library contains numerous treasures by the poet. On 11 December 2015, some of these will be up for sale, including the autograph manuscript of Le Grand Ecart, preserved in an inlaid binding designed by Francis Picabia. also to be mentioned, a copy of Cap de Bonne Espérance (1919), Cocteaus first modernist poem, in an original binding by Louise Denise Germain. a decorative artist, she was one of the first women to make a name for herself in creative bookbinding. The copy of La Noce massacrée (1921) is none other than the one given by cocteau to Raymond Radiguet. Last but not least, a first edition of Requiem, cocteaus poetic testament published in 1962, bears a marvellous autograph inscription to his friend, carrying within it the essence of the whole collection : My dear pierre, I know we all have our crosses to bear, and mine is a heavy one. I send you this river into which we spit. I send it to you in one of the blue copies, to express my affection. Jean.