BLANCH Lesley - Autograph Letter Signed 1986 to Edmonde Charles-Roux
Lesley BLANCH (1904-2007)Autograph Letter Signed (“Lesley”) to Edmonde Charles-Roux, giving a lengthy account of the problems she had encountered with her publishers and asking her to “do me a good turn” in offering a quote to publicize her new book.
1 page large 4to, Menton, 3 May 1986.
Blanch, who lived in France and had been married to the French writer and diplomat Romain Gary peppers her letter with a certain amount of attractive franglais.
“Will you, yet again – do me a good turn? . . . My book on Loti comes out in France, mid-month. Laffont have been extraordinarly inefficace; from the start, I had to fight. The English edition did not include corrections from the proofs – the agent lost the only typescript en route for U.S. publication - & then Laffont farmed it out to a monster, who appeared to have farmed it out to the Portuguese femme de menage, or a backward student! I refused it. Battle followed. At last, I got Jean Lambert (Gide’s son in law) who did a perfect job; a most cultivated man, who, en plus, had much admired the faulty English edition … Anyhow – enfin – my cherished Loti makes its debut, & would be so wonderfully pistonnéed if you would give a quote…?
I dont much care to ask this sort of thing, but I feel that in its present, repaired form, (for I worked on returning some cruel cuts) it might find favour in your eyes. I hope so.
I learn you are deep in a book on Isabelle Eberhardt. She was always my favourite of my four ladies in ‘The Wilder Shores’, though most people liked her less. I shall await your view of her with impatience.
Dear Edmonde: I wish I saw you sometimes. I live tucked away, on the frontier both geographically & culturally; but my plants and my cat console. . . .”
In a postscript she adds: “If you will grant me my request will you let me know? And then I can tell the lethargic Laffont to send you a copy.”
Lesley Blanch’s first book, and greatest success, The Wilder Shores of Love, a group biography which included Isabelle Eberhardt together with Isabel Burton and Lady Jane Digby, appeared in 1954. Thirty years and ten books later, she published her biography of the French novelist Pierre Loti, whose works, always set in exotic locations, mirrored Blanch’s own taste for far-flung settings. Although little known as a novelist in the English-speaking world, Loti’s novels formed the basis for two well-loved operas, Delibes’ Lakmé and Puccini’s Madam Butterfly.
Blanch’s correspondent, Edmonde Charles-Roux, was a well-known French journalist and writer, who had won the prestigious Prix Goncourt for her first novel. Isabelle Eberhardt was evidently as interesting to her as to Lesley Blanch, for she revisited her story in two subsequent books after the one in question here.
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