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GONCOURT, Edmond et Jules de

Journal des Goncourt - Mémoires de la vie littéraire

Paris, G. Charpentier, 1887-1896

COPY ON HOLLAND PAPER, IN UNIFORM BINDING, AND IN PART ANNOTATED BY EDMOND DE GONCOURT.

ESSENTIAL WALK IN THE END OF THE CENTURY, DRIVEN BY A REMARKABLE STYLE

FIRST EDITION

9 volumes in-12 (183 x 116mm)

TIRAGE : un des 50 exemplaires sur hollande, deuxième papier. Volumes respectivement numérotés 6, 28, 18, 37, 20, 35, 33, 33 et 22. Le volume IX est bien avant le carton p. 254

ANNOTATIONS : une trentaine de corrections autographes d’Edmond de Goncourt dans le tome I, à l’encre noire, soit ajouts, soit suppressions, soit remplacements :

p. 61 : “blanc / le bras et la main capillaire [ ?] / de mon vieux cousin de Villedeuil” ; rature -- p. 73 : “peint” ; deux ratures -- p. 84 : rature -- p. 102 : rature

p. 146 : rature -- p. 147 : “Méryon” -- p. 204 : “Charlyne de [nom illisible]” -- p. 221 : suppression -- p. 226 : rature -- p. 239 : “la peinture française” -- p. 250 : “tremblement” -- p. 254 : “ainsi que” -- p. 259 : “a” -- p. 289 : long trait -- p. 293 : illisible -- p. 303 : “Jean-Michel” -- p. 311 : “Note (1) c’est ce récit qui nous donnait l’idée du roman de Soeur Philomène” -- p. 327 : “avec / mal peint” -- p. 350 : “comme” -- p. 367 : “28.000” -- p. 374 : rature -- p. 383 : “hon ! hon !” -- p. 389 : “u” -- p. 391 : “passe” -- p. 392 : rature -- p. 400 : “[Mé]ryon / (Jean-Michel) 303”

RELIURES UNIFORMES SIGNÉES DE HUSER. Dos et coins de maroquin brun vert, dos à nerfs ornés, plats de papier marbré, tranches supérieures dorées, couvertures et dos conservés

Déchirure restaurée aux couvertures des tomes VI et IX et au faux titre du tome VI

The thirty or so annotations and corrections handwritten by Edmond de Goncourt in this copy have been copied in subsequent editions, notably the large Monte Carlo edition of 1956, based on the manuscript preserved in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The printed copy of the original edition kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France is, incidentally, free of annotations. Did Edmond de Goncourt annotate this copy in view of proofs for a reprint or, more likely, was it because the copy is printed on Holland paper -, a gift copy that he did not want to leave inaccurate ? The annotations on this copy are not only typographical corrections. They reveal certain names, give certain keys, for private use, of what could not be printed for everyone. The copy was therefore annotated for a trustworthy person. The first of these annotations (page 61) for example, explicitly gives the name of a miserly elderly man… who is none other than the Goncourt’s uncle.

Edmond de Goncourt had well foreseen the plentiful attacks from those who were not portrayed in very complimentary terms in the Journal. At the head of volume VI (1892), he justifies sorting his notes :

“In a Journal, like the one I publish, the absolute truth about the men and women encountered throughout my existence consists of a pleasant truth – which one wants well ; but which is almost always tempered by an unpleasant truth – which one absolutely does not want.”

Edmond de Goncourt thus had to sort considerably through the huge Journal manuscript to keep only nine volumes that passed censorship, those of this original edition. Edmond was immediately criticized for have reproduced conversations that were often very free and not intended for the public ear, for having reported observations and disagreeable, even slanderous, judgements of some people about others, for having ridiculed respectable people by revealing their foolishness.

The manuscript of the Journal des Goncourt was given to the Bibliothèque nationale de France, according to Edmond de Goncourt’s will :

“after my death will be found in my small Boulle cupboard, in my study, a series of notebooks with the title : Journal de la vie littéraire, begun by my brother and me on 2nd December 1851. I want these notebooks to be immediately sealed and deposited with Mr. Duplan, my notary, where they will remain sealed for twenty years, at the end of which they will be given to the Department of Manuscripts of the National Library and will be able to be consulted and delivered to print.”

It was not twenty years, but more than fifty, before an exhaustive edition of the Journal des Goncourt was published.

BIBLIOGRAPHY : Clouzot, Guide du bibliophile français, p. 137 -- Vicaire, Manuel de l’amateur de livres du XIXe siècle, III, col. 1065-1067 -- Léon Deffoux, Chronique de l’Académie Goncourt, Paris, 1929