Oxford blue edition,
numbered from 1 to 1,000
$210 $
French edition
Large format (10 x 14'')

More details

titre manuscrit de Alcools

Alcools, Apollinaire's manuscript

Sous le pont Mirabeau / Coule la Seine / Et nos amours / Faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne…
Under the Mirabeau Bridge flows the Seine / And our love / Shall I remember it again…

How did Guillaume Apollinaire, a young man just in his thirties, come to develop acclaimed poems such as “Le Pont Mirabeau” (Mirabeau Bridge), “Automne” (Autumn), “La Loreley” (The Lorelei), “Zone” (Zone) and "La Chanson du Mal-Aimé" (Song of the Poorly-Loved)? Published by French publisher Mercure de France in 1913, was the composition of Alcools (Alcohols) a dazzling outpouring or, alternatively, the result of years of artistic and intellectual development?

Most likely, the truth lies somewhere between the two scenarios. Real name Guillaume Albert Wladimir Alexandre Apollinaire de Kostrowsky, the writer was always scribbling, taking notes or writing in prose or verse. Born in Rome in 1880, he started writing properly around 1897, signing his poems under the pseudonym Guillaume Macabre. Consequently, he had begun to make a name for himself at the beginning of the 20th century and in the years preceding the First World War. He established himself in the literary and journalistic circles of Paris, choosing the pen name Apollinaire in homage to his maternal grandfather Apollinaris, which evoked in his mind Apollo, god of the arts. Lecturer, art critic and writer for literary reviews, Apollinaire wrote L’Hérésiarque & Cie (The Heresiarch & Co.) in 1910 which was nominated for the Goncourt Prize, not to mention the anonymously-published Onze Mille Verges (The Eleven Thousand Rods), a pornographic novel signed only with his initials.

This edition reproduces a key document in the understanding of Alcools and its impact on the history of poetry and French literature: the corrected set of proofs conserved in the Rare Books Reserve at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France). This set was bound by Sonia Delaunay, and was then owned by Tristan Tzara before being acquired at auction by the BnF in 1989.

It is between and around these printed lines that the poet put the finishing touches to his work. At the very last minute - possibly even on the way to the printers - he completely altered his use of punctuation. In a simple but radical move, Apollinaire decided to completely erase it all, in order to express the rhythm solely through the music of his words. The collection, initially titled Eau-de-vie (Water of Life) became Alcools; he rearranged the order and at the last moment added the poems ‘Zone’ and ‘Chantre’ (Cantor).

Fifteen years in the making

For Apollinaire, almost everything was a source of inspiration. From his love for the English governess Annie Playden whom he met in Germany, to his tumultuous affair with the beautiful Marie Laurencin… Alcools was the culmination of fifteen years of work and a lengthy process. As early as 1904, he considered collecting together poems he had written in Germany into a booklet under the name Le Vent du Rhin (The Rhine Wind). However, undoubtedly influenced by Marie Laurencin, he dreamed bigger: he set about carefully selecting texts from among more than 250 of his poems written between 1898 and 1913. He would have also been influenced by reading La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France (Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jehanne of France), a poem by Blaise Cendrars.

Together with the first set of corrected proofs, SP Books has brought together fragments, manuscripts and typewritten texts annotated by hand (those used for the publication of poems in journals long before the formation of Alcools). This assemblage illustrates the various stages of Apollinaire’s composition process, though it is not exhaustive, as some manuscripts have been destroyed, lost, or are kept in private collections.

n addition to the set of corrected proofs, the assembled documents come from the Jacques Doucet Literary Library and from various BnF collections (see sources cited at the end of the book).

le manuscrit d'Alcools d'Apollinaire

Manuscripts: a treasure hunt

The task of uncovering Apollinaire’s drafts and fragments across many documents is that of an immensely rewarding treasure hunt. To compare the well-known final version of Alcools to earlier versions reveals much about the poet’s approach - leaving much open to interpretation and the scrutiny of literary analysis. Some notable changes include:

- ‘Zone’ was retitled ‘Cri’ (Scream) in the corrected proofs. In the final version, Apollinaire also deleted several verses;

- ‘Cortège’ (Cortege) was previously ‘Brumaire’ ((the second month in the French Republican Calendar) - this manuscript also contains a draft plan of the entire collection;

- ‘Le voyageur’ (The Traveller) is much developed, as evidenced by the fragment entitled ‘Villes’ (Cities);

- ‘À la Santé’ (To Health), was previously titled ‘À la Prison de la Santé’ (To La Santé Prison), and the order rearranged;

- In the poem ‘La Clé’ (The Key) there are fragments of other poems, including ‘L’Adieu’ (The Farewell), ‘Rhénane d´automne’ (Autumn Rhine) and ‘La Dame’ (The Lady);

- ‘Marzibill’ was previously ‘Marie Sybille’, while ‘La Dame’ was formerly ‘La petite souris’ (The Little Mouse).

The collection Alcools, published in 1913 by Mercure de France, brought together fifteen years of work and demonstrates the poet’s literary evolution.

Livre facsimile Alcools de Guillaume Apollinaire

A landmark publication

Alcools – its title an homage to symbolic drunkenness, the intensity of poetry and a thirst for life – was first printed in 567 copies. Reception was mixed, with audiences both shocked and seduced. The Critic Georges Duhamel termed it a ‘brocante’ (flea market) emphasising its disparate nature, while André Gide called it a ‘miracle ingénu’ (ingenuous miracle). The publication would go down in history, and Apollinaire is today considered the forerunner, if not the founder, of surrealism.

The singer-songwriter Léo Ferré adapted a number of poems from the Alcools collection, including ‘Le Pont Mirabeau’ (Mirabeau Bridge), ‘Marizibill’, ‘L'Adieu’ (The Farewell), ‘Tzigane’ (Gypsy), ‘Zone’, ‘L'Émigrant de Landor Road’ (The Emigrant of Landor Road) and ‘La Chanson du Mal-Aimé’ (Song of the Poorly-Loved). Even today, music groups like Feu! Chatterton are inspired by Apollinaire’s poetry.

A preface by Philippe Tesson

Philippe Tesson is a journalist, founder in 1974 of French newspaper Le Quotidien de Paris, owner of the publishing house L’Avant-scène theater and director of the Théâtre de Poche-Montparnasse in Paris. To introduce this book he has written a passionate text on the creative impetus of Apollinaire, and how the collection charts his poetic development. Philippe Tesson is the author of several books, including De Gaulle 1er, la révolution manquée (Albin Michel, 1965) and La Campagne de France (Léo Scheer, 2012).

Livre Alcools Apollinaire

The New York Yimes logo

Mrs Dalloway: Thanks to a new reproduction of the only full draft of Mrs. Dalloway, handwritten in three notebooks and initially titled “The Hours,” we now know that the story she completed — about a day in the life of a London housewife planning a dinner party — was a far cry from the one she’d set out to write (...)

The Guardian Logo

The Grapes of Wrath: The handwritten manuscript of John Steinbeck’s masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath, complete with the swearwords excised from the published novel and revealing the urgency with which the author wrote, is to be published for the first time. There are scarcely any crossings-out or rewrites in the manuscript, although the original shows how publisher Viking Press edited out Steinbeck’s dozen uses of the word “fuck”, in an attempt to make the novel less controversial. (...)

Jane Eyre: This is a book for passionate people who are willing to discover Jane Eyre and Charlotte Brontë's work in a new way. Brontë's prose is clear, with only occasional modifications. She sometimes strikes out words, proposes others, circles a sentence she doesn't like and replaces it with another carefully crafted option. (...)

The observer logo

The Jungle Book: Some 173 sheets bearing Kipling’s elegant handwriting, and about a dozen drawings in black ink, offer insights into his creative process. The drawings were not published because they are unfinished, essentially works in progress. (...)

The Lost World: SP Books has published a new edition of The Lost World, Conan Doyle’s 1912 landmark adventure story. It reproduces Conan Doyle’s original manuscript for the first time, and includes a foreword by Jon Lellenberg: "It was very exciting to see, page by page, the creation of Conan Doyle’s story. To see the mind of the man as he wrote it". Among Conan Doyle’s archive, Lellenberg made an extraordinary discovery – a stash of photographs of the writer and his friends dressed as characters from the novel, with Conan Doyle taking the part of its combustible hero, Professor Challenger. (...)

The Chicago Tribune Logo

Frankenstein: There is understandably a burst of activity surrounding the book’s 200th anniversary. The original, 1818 edition has been reissued, as paperback by Penguin Classics. There’s a beautifully illustrated hardcover, “The New Annotated Frankenstein” (Liveright) and a spectacular limited edition luxury facsimile by SP Books of the original manuscript in Shelley's own handwriting based on her notebooks. (...)

the washington post logo

The Great Gatsby: But what if you require a big sumptuous volume to place under the tree? You won’t find anything more breathtaking than SP Books ’s facsimile of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s handwritten manuscript of The Great Gatsby, showing the deletions, emendations and reworked passages that eventually produced an American masterpiece (...)

Fine Books Magazine logo

Oliver Twist: In the first ever facsimile edition of the manuscript SP Books celebrates this iconic tale, revealing largely unseen edits that shed new light on the narrative of the story and on Dickens’s personality. Heavy lines blocking out text are intermixed with painterly arabesque annotations, while some characters' names are changed, including Oliver’s aunt Rose who was originally called Emily. The manuscript also provides insight into how Dickens censored his text, evident in the repeated attempts to curb his tendency towards over-emphasis and the use of violent language, particularly in moderating Bill Sikes’s brutality to Nancy. (...)

lit hub logo

Peter Pan: It is the manuscript of the latter, one of the jewels of the Berg Collection in the New York Public Library, which is reproduced here for the first time. Peter’s adventures in Neverland, described in Barrie’s small neat handwriting, are brought to life by the evocative color plates with which the artist Gwynedd Hudson decorated one of the last editions to be published in Barrie’s lifetime. (...)

Customer reviews

Bertrand Husson

Produit tout à fait conforme à mes attentes. Un petit problème de livraison mais non imputable aux éditions de Saints Pères. Pas eu besoin de faire appel au service client.

Pascal Basille

Facilité d'achat et livraison rapide. Bravo.

Alain D

Encore une fois, les Editions des Saints Peres nous livrent une oeuvre formidable, travaillée encore et encore par un Guillaume Apollinaire que l'on aurait imaginé moins maniaque ! mais l'oeuvre est sublime et grandiose, la plupart du temps un premier jet de mots justes, touchants, avec toute l'inventivité et la musique de ce très grand poète.
Une émotion brute à découvrir ce travail passionnant.
Un grand merci de nous faire partager cela, toujours avec la même qualité.