Aucassin & Nicolette (1916)
Illustrated by Evelyn Paul and Main R Bocher
On the left, we show a rare copy of Aucassin & Nicolete produced by
George Harrap & Co. (London) in 1917.
This copy shows the original leather binding with exquisite Art Nouveau
influences, including reinforcing metal studs and a bas-relief illustration
inset between blind stamped title lettering.
Translated by Michael West, this edition includes illustrations by Main R Bocher,
music score by Horace Mansion and profuse decorations by Evelyn Paul.
Main R Bocher (1891-1977) is most famous for his fashion design. He remained
in Paris after serving with the armed forces during World War I and later
became editor of French Vogue. In 1930, he established the Mainbocher salon
and his simple, subtle couture designs continued to influence modern fashion
for the best part of the following half century. Mainbocher's creations graced
Wallis Warfield Simpson at her marriage to the Duke of Windsor.
Evelyn Paul's illumination of West's introduction prepares the reader for the tale in the most exquisite fashion.
West introduces the chantefable thus:
C'est d'Aucasin et de Nicolete
Illumination by Evelyn Paul
Aucassin & Nicolete represents the sole surviving example of a chantefable - a sung story - from what was once
a popular literary genre.
The major characters of the tale are: Garin, Count of Beaucaire; his son, Aucassin; and Nicolete, a Saracen
From the chanson de geste, the author borrows the themes of Christian knighthood and feudal warfare and
combines themes from the courtly romance traditions such as the well known plot device of star-crossed love
between a young Christian and Saracen. The tale establishes the desperate desire for Aucassin and Nicolete to
marry, only for their wishes to be undermined by the determination of Garin who forbids their union and
imprisons the lovers. In time, both escape and experience a series of romantic and farcical adventures before
Nicolete is revealed to be a Saracen princess of the noblest ancestry and the tale is resolved.
Some critics have characterised the story as something of a satire on epic, romance or saint's life genres, but
often the tale seems interested only in comedy for comedy's sake - as a pleasing entertainment for those who
read the story or who may see it performed. The verse portions - which were meant to be sung - may be
considered more skillfully constructed than the prose sections, but it remains a delightful distraction.
Our Greeting Cards and Reproduction Prints
We have prepared sets of 13 Greeting Cards displaying each of the colour images from Aucassin & Nicolete (1917) and on the left, we show an example of how these Greeting Cards appear. Ordering one of those sets is as easy as selecting the "Add to Cart" feature below and following the prompts provided with our Shopping Cart secured through PayPal. Multiple purchases will be consolidated by that feature and shipping and handling costs to any destination in the world are accommodated by our flat-rate fee of US$20 for every US$200 worth of purchases.
When presented on Greeting Cards, these images are prepared as tipped-in plates - in homage to the hand-crafted
approach typical of prestige illustrated publications produced in the early decades of the 20th Century.
Hand-finishing is used to replicate the visual appearance of a tipped-in plate and the images are presented on
Ivory card stock (in the case of colour illustrations) or White card stock (in the case of monotone illustrations)
with an accompanying envelope. We have left the cards blank so that you may write your own personal
Should you wish to order a Reproduction Print or an individual Greeting Card from this suite of images, we
welcome your contact through ThePeople@SpiritoftheAges.com.
In the meantime, enjoy perusing these wonderful images from Evelyn Paul and Main R Bocher.
The colour illustrations