ecrivain (1844-1896). Two exceedingly desirable ALSs in French, both signed “PV,” written to Edmond Lepelletier. Londres 29 mai. 8vo. 3 pp.
$ 50,707 / 48.500 €
The first is one page, 5.25 x 8, May 29, . In part (translated): “I arrived here the day before yesterday in the morning from Anvers. Crossing during 15 hours, such an incredible beauty. Besides, I am never sick when traveling on a boat. I shall throw this in the mail soon to give you my address and to ask you to take good care of Gustave. Write me soon and prepare the work. As soon as the printer approves it, Macte animo generose puer."
The second is one page both sides, 5.25 x 8, no date but circa June 1873.
In part (translated): "I am writing you just a word…to scold you on your silence. What is happening for Gustave? I do not see why politics could hurt such a frail boy, doomed in advance to some special sale and one of the few to be up to it. I give some French lessons, it pays me something like 100 or 150 francs per month. This is always something and it kills boredom…What about the case? Try then to get me at least one of my three volumes, even by paying and send it to me: here, for the literature lessons 'by a poet,' it is the best reference you can give the maniacs who fork out half a pound (12 fr. 50) a lesson in versification and poetic 'finesses.' So my request is all but serious and urgent; it goes without saying that I will pay. If you are not able to do it now and you see Blemont, ask him this for me." On the reverse of this letter, Verlaine pens a wild half-page caricature sketch, labeling it "Le Shah de visu." Below, he pens a lengthy note, in part (translated): "Doesn't he look just like the poor Monsieur de la Chauviniere? Besides, you'll see him shortly. Here, we are enjoying lovely French troupes, Desclée, etc.—the artists of Mr. Humbert, from Brussels, the entire repertoire of Offenbach, Herve, Lecoq, etc.—you can get all the tickets you want but it is so hot here!" Central vertical and horizontal folds, light scattered staining, and various pencil notations, otherwise fine condition.
Verlaine and Rimbaud had begun their short but torrid affair in Paris in late 1871, their volatile relationship bringing them to London in September 1872; at the conclusion of both letters, Verlaine pens his address, 8 Grate College Street, Camden Town, which they had rented on May 28, 1873, living in decadent squalor in two rooms on the top floor. Here they supported themselves by teaching French verse, as mentioned here, and their relationship grew increasingly strained—their self-destructive instincts came to characterize their existence, with relentless arguing and fighting. Verlaine fled to Brussels in early July after a particularly exhausting quarrel, and Rimbaud followed shortly thereafter—only for Verlaine to famously shoot him twice in the wrist in a drunken rage. These fantastic letters describe the general goings-on of this tumultuous period, with the second highlighted by a fabulous sketch and both artistic and literary content; this letter especially offers important insight into this period, and is quoted and contextualized at length in Graham Robb's acclaimed 2001 biography of Rimbaud (pg. 209)..