London, South Kensington
13 November 2008
SEGALEN, Victor (1878-1919). Stèles. Paris: Georges Crès & Cie: 'Collection Coréenne' (printed in Pei-T'ang, China), 1914. NUMBER 33 OF 35 COPIES ON GRAND PAPIER DE TRIBUT from an edition of 640 copies. 2° (288 x 140mm), pages folded 'en portefeuille', title (recto and verso) and one other leaf decorated with red seals, additional title and six section titles in large Chinese characters. Paper wrappers with printed labels on upper cover and spine, under wooden boards with the title engraved in French (Stèles) and Chinese characters ('Record of Ancient Steles'), silk ties (wrappers spotted, light marks to lower board, both silk ties worn, the uppermost severed).
Segalen's collection of French prose poems in the style of the inscriptions on Chinese 'steles' or stone monuments was first published by the author in Beijing in 1912. He described the revised and expanded Paris edition as "an adaptation to the Western Book of the bibliophilic principles established five or six hundred years ago by the Calligraphers and Master-Printers of the Middle Kingdom". A printed spine label was incorporated into the book "out of friendship for the Western Bibliophile, who loves to place upright in his library the books that here are laid flat".
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