Monday, February 13, 2012


The Lady or the Incunable?

This post supplements Tell Me, My Son.

Ian Jackson, "Ever learning, ever dying," The Bookplate Journal (September 2004) 115-118, discussing the bookplate of the French scholar and bibliophile Anatole de Courde de Montaiglon:
Montaiglon had neither wife nor heir: as he explained to his favourite pupil Mario Schiff, 'Whenever I found myself smitten, I asked myself: "Look here, Anatole, do you like the lady more than a fine incunable?" I always preferred the incunable'.2

2. Mario Schiff, 'Anatole de Courde de Montaiglon 1824-1895' in Revue Bleue for 17 June 1899, p. 758.
(Pp. 115, 118.) The original French of the quotation:
'Quand je me voyais épris, je me disais: Voyons Anatole, aimes tu mieux mademoiselle une telle ou un bel incunable? J'aimais toujours mieux l'incunable!'
Montaiglon's bookplate bore the motto "De jour en jour en apprenant mourant," literally "From day to day, while learning, dying."

Thanks to Ian Jackson for sending me an offprint of his article and for pointing out the similarity between the quotations from Anatole de Courde de Montaiglon and Anatole France.

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