Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Armance Illustrated

Family archives are varied not only by their historical import but also by the nature of the types of objects grouped within. The following book is a prime example.

It is a 1967 French paperback of Stendhal’s Armance, a romance novel originally published in 1827 which revolves around Octave de Malivert, a taciturn but brilliant young man, who is attracted to Armance Zohiloff, who shares his feelings. It describes how a series of misunderstandings have kept the lovers Armance and Octave divided.

The book in and of itself in unremarkable, something you could buy in Paris at a used book shop for a couple of Euros. However, the axiom “never judge a book by its cover” is uniquely appropriate here, for when I loosely thumbed its pages I found countless small drawings adorning them. They appear to be inspired by the text and were done by a family friend as a gift.

The inscription says (translated from French): “To Alfred and Natalie Copponex from François Fosch, with gratitude for the enduring memories.”

Armance had a surprise for me that went beyond the story of two young lovers.

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