Patapoufs & Filifers
André Maurois
1885 to 1967
Jean Bruller [Vercors]
1902 to 1991
Pierre J.M. Thielen

Patapoufs & Filifers is a childrens' book by André Maurois. The story is about two brothers, one of whom is as thin as his father; the other is as plump as his mother. They arrive in an underground kingdom one day, where they are separated from each other: the fat little boy goes to a land of chubby, lazy, friendly people, while the thin little boy is taken to a pointed, hardworking and slightly gruff people. They notice that both peoples are preparing a war, and try to prevent it. This imaginative story was provided by Maurois with a moralistic anti-war message, fed by political tensions following World War I.

Bookbinding by Pierre J.M. Thielen. Upper and lower cover
Bookbinding by Pierre J.M. Thielen. Upper and lower cover

Bookbinding by Schrijen. Upper and lower cover



Title page
Title page

Title page


The first edition from 1930 was illustrated by Jean Bruller, who mostly published humorous drawings during the interbellum period, for the likes of 21 recettes pratiques de mort violente, petit manuel du parfait suicidé (1926). His contribution to the first editon of Patapoufs & Filifers was enormous: the 75 drawings tell an additional story besides that of Maurois: Bruller for instance has worked out the differences between the land of the fatsos and the land of the skinny people into the smallest details. Even plant life and animal life display those typical national characteristics.

Bruller is therefore often perceived as co-author of this children’s book, and Maurois himself was full of praise for his drawings: 'To my great pleasure, Patapoufs & Filifers, which I had written for my two boys, was illustrated by Vercors, who then worked under the name of Jean Bruller, and who contributed greatly to the book with his surprisingly intelligent and painterly drawings, already demonstrating the Swiftian nature of the future writer.'


At the beginning of World War II, Bruller played a part in the Resistance, writing the short novel Le silence de la mer (1942) under the pseudonym Vercors. It became a worldwide success. Jean Bruller was not only involved with illustrated books as a writer and illustrator: for eight years, he wrote a column called 'The bibliophile's eye' in Arts et metiers graphiques, and he was also the founding father of Éditions de Minuit. His devotion to French literature is further demonstrated by the preface he wrote for the bibliography of French books that were published clandestinely in the Netherlands during World War II, which was edited by Dirk de Jong.

The initiative for this extraordinary children's book came from publisher Paul Hartmann, one of the publishers that had given a new impulse to the genre of children's literature in the 1930s by making it attractive to adults as well. The copy of Patapoufs & Filifers in the Koopman Collection is an avowedly bibliophile edition: it is one of 25 copies printed on imperial Japanese paper with an original aquarelle for one of the illustrations on page 60: 'Musiciens Filifers'. It also contains a dedication from the author to Koopman, and a dedication with drawing by the artist. The book was bound by Pierre J.M. Thielen for the Dutch company Schrijen: on the binding an endomorphic figure is pictured in relief beside a leptosome. The story was able to reach both adult and youthful audiences- as was the book's intention. A Dutch translation appeared in the Netherlands in 1969, titled Paddepoef en spillebeen (the English translation as Fattypoufs & Thinifers.)

Page 25
Page 25

Page 25

Original aquarelle by Jean Bruller for 'Musiciens Filifers'
Original aquarelle by Jean Bruller for Musiciens Filifers

Original aquarelle by Jean Bruller for 'Musiciens Filifers'

Bibliographical description

Description: Patapoufs & Filifers / André Maurois ; 75 dess. de Jean Bruller. - Paris : Hartmann, 1930. - [92] p. : ill. ; 27 cm
Printer: E. Aulard (Paris)
Edition: 325 copies
This copy: Number 12 of 25 on Imperial Japanese paper
Bookbinder: Schrijen (Pierre J.M. Thielen)
Note: With an original aquarelle for 'Musiciens Filifers' (p. 60)
With autograph dedication from the author to Louis Koopman. Signed with an original drawing by the artist
Bibliography: Bénézit 2-884
Shelfnumber: Koopm A 539


  • Dirk de Jong, Bibliographie des éditions Françaises clandestines: Imprimées aux Pays-Bas pendant l’occupation Allemande 1940-1945. La Haye, Paris, Stols, 1947
  • Jack Kolbert, The worlds of André Maurois. Selinsgrove, Susquehanna University Press,1985
  • Radivoje D. Konstantinović, Vercors: Ecrivain et dessinateur. Paris, Klincksieck, 1969
  • Jacques Suffel, André Maurois. Paris, Flammarion, 1963