Marcel Schwob, a writer of Jewish descent, was a contemporary of Paul Léautaud, Paul Valéry and Marcel Proust. He had a predilection for the strange, the marginal and the unknown. The poet Guillaume Apollinaire admired him, and Alfred Jarry dedicated his famous book Ubu Roi to him. Schwob was a talented, versatile student who was writing his first verses and stories by the age of sixteen. He practiced journalism, translated Shakespeare's Hamlet, and was also an expert on French poet/villain François Villon and his thieves' cant, the so-called 'argot'.
As a writer, he was better known at the time than Proust, with whom he unfortunately shared not only his Christian name, but also bad health. From 1903 onward, he was to spend his last two years in an old house in Paris, on 11 rue Saint Louis en l'Ile. Many writers came together here for the literary meetings that were to be held up to his death in 1905.
Artist Jean-Gabriel Daragnès produced numerous illustrations for famous works by authors such as Verlaine, Baudelaire, Edgar Allen Poe and Oscar Wilde after World War I. He had previously made the illustrations for La jeune Parque by Paul Valéry (1925). This edition of Schwob's Mimes was printed in his own studio in Montmartre. Daragnès was able to express the book's atmosphere by a completely new process of colourful, fine copper engravings. This made him one of the first to contribute to the renaissance of the artist's book. Besides his intense illustrations from Mimes he was also responsible for the typography of that edition.
Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-club de France
On 12 November 1895 the Marquis de Dion founded the Automobile club, which initiated the first Grand Prix in 1906. What is remarkable is that this club began publishing artists'books from 1929 onwards under the name 'Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-club de France'. These books were intended exclusively for the club's members: businessmen, bankers, industrialists and aristocrats with a special love for cars and literature in special editions. The list of members from 1933 included the Citroën brothers and members of the Rothschild family.
Mimes was first published in 1893. It was inspired by the Greek poet Herondas's verses, the 'mimiamboi', which had recently been discovered. This was an ancient Greek literary genre that portrayed everyday Greek habits. Schwob rewrote the poems until he had established a poetic form of prose that was entirely his own.
|Description:||Mimes texte / Marcel Schwob ; avec des gravures / Daragnès. Paris : Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-club de France, 1933. - 100 p.,  pl. ; 35 cm|
|Printer:||Jean-Gabriel Daragnès (Paris)|
|This copy:||Number 5 of 127 on Arches|
|Note:||Contains an extra series of the illustrations and an original gouache by Daragnès|
|Bibliography:||Bénézit 4-242 ; Édouard-Joseph I-349 ; Monod 10220|
|Shelf-mark:||Koopm A 422 (1-2)|
- Marie-Louis Bataille, 'Gabriel Daragnès, graveur et maître d'oeuvre', in: Art et décoration, 64 (1935), p. 104-112
- Marcel Schwob d'hier et d'aujourd'hui. Christian Berg (Red.). Seyssel, Champ Vallon, 2002
- Paul van Capelleveen, Sophie Ham, Jordy Joubij, Voices and visions. The Koopman Collection and the Art of the French Book. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands; Zwolle, Waanders, 2009
- Sylvain Goudemare, Marcel Schwob ou les vies imaginaries: Biographie. Paris, Le cherche midi, 2000
- Raymond Hesse, Le livre d'après guerre et les sociétés de bibliophiles 1918-1928. Paris, Grasset, 1929
- Hélène Huet, Mapping Decadence [online source]
- Bernard De Meyer, Marcel Schwob: Conteur de l'imaginaire. Bern, Lang, 2004
- Marcel Thiébaut, 'Marcel Schwob', in: La revue de Paris, 67 (1960), p. 141-160