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Book Description
4to, pp. xviii, [188] + b/w frontis. Three quarters blue morocco, blue linen boards. Panelled spine with gilt lettering and ruling. Gilt top edge, others untrimmed. Rubbed at extremities, worn at head of spine and top corners. Band of browning to edges of free endpapers. Edges tanned, a few spots to rear. Else, clean and tidy. A very good copy of an unusual edition that appears to be unlisted in the UK, and goes unattributed to Buck and Brown in WorldCat listings.
Dealer Notes
NEW LIMITED EDITION, no. 975 of 975. First published in 1894 in France as Les Chansons de Bilitis: Traduites du grec pour la première fois par P. L., Louÿs' playful literary hoax purportedly translated the recently unearthed verses of Bilitis, a 6th century BCE female poet from Myteline (Lesbos), and acolyte of 'Psappha'. The decadent author failed to hoodwink contemporary classicists, but his book was, nevertheless, a publishing phenomenon, variously reissued and much translated by private presses in France and abroad. Claude Debussy set a number of the poems to music. Despite its illegitimacy, Louÿs' collection of prose poems influenced twentieth century lesbian cultures, from Natalie Clifford Barney's Cinq Petits Dialogues Grecs (1902) to the 1950s US political and social lesbian group, Daughters of Bilitis (Castle, 2003). Translated from the French by Mitchell Starrett Buck, a little known American author who 'mined a narrow vein of literature, often classically inspired, and often tinged with eroticism [...] the money he made professionally [as a heating engineer] allowed him to become a noted book-collector, specializing in first editions, English literature, Greek and Latin classics.' (Douglas, 2012). This limited edition was published by the Philadelphia bookseller, Nicholas L. Brown, who had, since 1916, published Buck's own works and translations, issuing the erotica as 'privately printed for subscribers' to deflect charges of obscenity. Buck's translations of Louÿs, including Songs of Bilitis, would be reissued in 1932 by Liveright Publishing of New York as The Collected Works of Pierre Louÿs.
Author LOUŸS, Pierre [LOUIS, Pierre] (1870-1925); 'M.S.B.' [BUCK, Mitchell Starrett] (1887-1959, translator & 'Notes and Comment')
Date 1919
Binding Three quarters blue morocco, blue linen boards.
Publisher s.n. 'Privately Printed' [New York: Nicholas L. Brown]
Condition Very Good

Price: £60.00

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