BALZAC Honoré de (1799-1850)

Lot 73
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200000 - 250000 EUR
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Result : 156 000EUR
BALZAC Honoré de (1799-1850)
autograph manuscript, Pensées, sujets, fragmens; oblong album in-8 (13,7 x 21,8 cm), 110 pages on 56 leaves; original red half-chagrin binding, marbled paper boards. Precious autograph workbook: the famous "pantry" of Balzac, of capital importance, as much for the drafts and plans of his works as for its fascinating notations concerning the life of Balzac. The notebook includes, in addition to the inside cover (and a late added endpaper), a title page (unnumbered) and 110 pages (late numbered in pencil on the front); these 56 pages are all written on the front and back, except for page 101 which is blank; the notebook ends with another added endpaper, and the second inside cover. This is an oblong album, composed (it seems, because some detached leaves have been reassembled with time) of a quire of 4 leaves, of 8 quires of 6 leaves, and finally of a last quire of 4 leaves; that is to say in all 112 pages, and the two inside covers. This oblong notebook is simply bound: a red long-grained leather spine, and marbled paper boards, measuring 137 x 217 mm (the pages measure 130 x 210). It bears on the inside of the first board a printed label of "Werner / M d Papetier / Rue Vivienne N° 2 bis / Paris". This type of notebook was often used in the Romantic period for drawing, or as an album amicorum; the paper is usually white or lightly tinted, but some leaves are buff, brown or gray. On each of the inside covers, Balzac has pasted an engraving. At the head is a Chine print of the vignette by Achille Devéria engraved by Charles Thompson for L'Album historique et anecdotique that Balzac had printed in 1827; at the end, an engraving (illustration for Byron's Don Juan?). If the title was carefully calligraphed by Balzac in large English letters on the first page, most of the notes were thrown into the notebook in a very quick handwriting. The ink used is sometimes black, sometimes brown, sometimes sepia or ochre, sometimes violet. Some notes are crossed out or crossed out with a few strokes of the pen, sometimes in crosses; some erasures are more sustained and make it difficult to decipher: the simple undulating movement of the pen can narrow into a series of hatchings, or be transformed into a swirling movement, or even into strong arabesques that heavily overload the primi - tive writing so as to prevent any deciphering. Balzac obviously wanted to erase all traces of a subject he had dealt with, or of an outdated work schedule, or of an old plan for organizing his works that had been rendered obsolete by a new elaboration, as if he needed to clear the decks in order to move forward. Sometimes even a piece of paper or a proof fixed with wax would obscure the crossed-out page, as can be seen on pages 30 or 44 (but traces of wax are visible on pages 7 and 15). In this notebook, used from 1830 to 1847, Balzac wrote down subjects, thoughts, anecdotes, words heard, notes on readings, etc. According to his sister, he "very trivially called the album where he recorded everything remarkable he heard, his pantry" (Laure Surville, Balzac, sa vie et ses œuvres d'après sa correspondance, Calmann-Lévy, 1878, p. 73). One also finds scenarios, ideas for titles, work calendars, plans or projects of classification of the works, "subjects of articles" (p. 35), some lists of characters (p. 44, 66-67), drafts of texts like "Analyse des Corps enseignans", but also amusing series of diverted proverbs (p. 63-64, 72: "Abundance of dogs does not harm. One should not cover two lips at the same time", etc.), lists of names and addresses for sending his works, etc. It is there, for example, that one will find the first idea of La Peau de chagrin, of Séraphîta, of Père Goriot, etc. There are also some drawings or sketches: page 12, a plan of La Grenadière; page 66, the buttocks and legs of a strong woman seen from behind; page 100, a head in profile; page 102, a plan of the house on rue Fortunée; finally, page 87, a small flower is pasted with the mention: "Voyage du Simplon en 1846". This notebook also had, in fact, a sentimental value, as shown by the dates written on the title page and which celebrate Madame Hanska: "6 Jan. birth of E", and : "February 1833 27 7bre 1833", marking the real beginning of their correspondence and their first meeting in Neuchâtel. Thus, Balzac placed under the invocation of his beloved Eve this notebook, Pensées, Sujets, Fragmens, a real laboratory of Balzac's creation, which he designated to Madame Hanska (on October 10, 1837) as "my book where I put all the thoughts of my works, and so many things
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