Arion Lyre

106. Bouvard and Pécuchet, by Gustave Flaubert, translated and with an introduction by Mark Polizzotti.

Bouvard and Pécuchet, by Gustave Flaubert, translated and with an introduction by Mark Polizzotti, June 2016.

Arion Press announces publication of the French master Gustave Flaubert’s last work, the comic novel Bouvard & Pécuchet. Written during the last six years of Flaubert’s life, it was the concluding and all-consuming effort of his career. Although he never finished it, the work is a masterpiece of satire and humor just as it is.

In the introduction, the prize-winning translator and critic Mark Polizzotti, writes: “Bouvard and Pécuchet is not only a great precursor of Modernism--this ‘epic of ordinary life,’ as its author called it, this comic panorama in which nothing happens, anticipates not only Joyce and Musil but also the amusing non-plots of films like Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger than Paradise or TV shows like Seinfeld.”

Picture the comedians Laurel and Hardy in a makeshift laboratory, conducting improbable experiments based on misinformation garnered from random readings in their jumbled library. This is the story of Bouvard and Pécuchet, two mid-nineteenth century copyists, soon to be replaced by typists, who have retired from their careers transcribing business documents by hand.  In keeping with the occupations of Flaubert’s heroes, all the pages of the edition are decorated with hand-written passages in the margins, excerpted from the adjacent text block. The scribe is Andrew Hoyem, who copied selections made by Mark Polizzotti. The frontispiece is a transcription of the opening of chapter one, where Bouvard and Pécuchet meet by chance on a Paris park bench on a hot summer day.

The French writer Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) is a giant of Western literature. Most widely known for his 1856 novel Madame Bovary, and the obscenity trail it provoked, and the semi-autobiographical Sentimental Education, he was a champion of realism and of exacting standards of craft. Flaubert has influenced writers down the ages, such as the novelist Julian Barnes in recent times. Although he trumpeted his misanthropy, he participated in the Paris circles of Zola, Daudet, and the Goncourt brothers and was a friend of Turgenev and of George Sand. He is credited with both inventing the modern novel, in Madame Bovary, and in rendering it passé, in Bouvard and Pécuchet.

Translator Mark Polizzotti is the biographer of Andre Breton and has written on the Surrealists, European film, and the work of Bob Dylan. He has published nearly fifty translations from French, including work by the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for literature, Patrick Modiano. Among his translations of Modiano are the The Black Notebook, After the Circus, Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas, and Pedigree: A Memoir. In 2016, he received the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award in Literature. Polizzotti is the publisher and editor-in- chief of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s publishing program.

THE EDITION AND ORDERING

The Arion edition is set in a rare Czechoslovakian type named for its designer, Oldrich Menhart (1897-1962), a calligrapher, lettering artist, and type designer of over twenty faces. This is our first use of Menhart type. The paper is a mould-made sheet from the Magnani mill in Italy. The page format is 13-7/8 by 10 inches, 232 pages, printed in two colors throughout. The book is sewn by hand and bound in covers with two colors of cloth, blue-green and violet-magenta, and is presented in a cloth-covered slipcase.

The edition is limited to 300 numbered copies for sale. A portion of the edition is reserved for Arion Press subscribers, who receive a 30% discount in return for their commitment to purchase the annual series of publications. Terms of subscription are available on request. The price is $750. Available.

Purchase the book securely online now:

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Edition:

The Arion edition is set in a rare Czechoslovakian type named for its designer, Oldrich Menhart. The page format is 13-7/8 by 10 inches, 232 pages, printed in two colors throughout on mould-made paper from the Magnani mill in Italy. The book is sewn by hand and bound in covers with two colors of cloth, blue-green and violet-magenta, and is presented in a cloth-covered slipcase.

The edition is limited to 300 numbered copies for sale. The price is $750. Available.

For a 30% discount consider subscribing.

Purchase the book securely online now:

Reserve the book and pay offline (checks preferred):

Reserve your copy


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