Booklovers to SLAM Paris


In June 1984, the Syndicat national de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM) organised the first International Antiquarian Book Fair in Paris at the Conciergerie. In this historic location (once prison to Marie-Antoinette), the success was considerable. Paris became a regular destination for bibliophiles from all over the world. Since April 2007 the magnificent setting of the Grand Palais has been providing a unique occasion for the Salon International du Livre Ancien. In this most elegant venue and accompanied by high class exhibitions the Paris Fair is an exceptional cultural event and one of the most important market places for the rare book trade.

A Most Prestigious Event in the Bibliophile World

From manuscripts to avant-garde, from a letter by François I to the drafts of Marcel Proust, from a 13th century psalm book to a futurist manifesto, dealers and collectors will browse the shelves of more than 150 antiquarian booksellers with thousands of stunningly diverse documents. Around 20.000 book fair visitors will meander through the Grand Palais and discover first editions, precious bindings, travel accounts, old and modern prints and photographies, handwritten letters and documents by artists, politicians and scientists, scores of famous musicians, treatises on medicine, astronomy, philosophy and other milestones in the history of science alongside with fine illustrated books, modern art and beautiful children’s books.

Politically Correct? An Exhibition by the Exhibitors
For more than five centuries, the book has been the historical vehicle of the great schools of thought, at once the guardian of the temples and a companion of all avant-gardes. For the first time, an exhibition is organised on the theme of the year 2011: “Politically correct?” The aim is to provide an insight in a historical setting, into convictions of centuries past and how numerous moral criteria have been turned on our ancestors’ heads. The items of the exhibition are provided by the book fair exhibitors. Each showcase is devoted to one of the following themes:

Guest Library 2011: Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet
On the occasion of the Salon International du Livre Ancien 2011, the Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet seized the opportunity offered by the Syndicat de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM) to open its doors to the vast number of visitors to the Grand Palais.

The Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet is a patrimonial research library created by the great fashion designer, collector and patron Jacques Doucet (1853-1929). Devoted to French literature from the era of symbolism to modern times, it is one of the richest literary libraries worldwide.

From 1916 to 1929, Doucet built up a collection founded on the direct relationship he maintained with the writers with whom he surrounded himself: André Suarès, Pierre Reverdy, Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, Blaise Cendrars, Raymond Radiguet, André Breton, Louis Aragon, and many others. Doucet collected not only rare and first editions, but also manuscripts, letters from the authors and corrected proofs – all elements which help to follow the creation of a literary work and its development.

As early as 1914, André Suarès suggested Doucet that he could build up a “Montaigne-type library”. Two years later, Doucet asked Suarès to suggest authors whose works he might attempt to acquire to expand his library “in addition to the original quartet” (Claudel, Gide, Jammes, Suarès). On 15 June 1916, Suarès sent him a list of authors: the original editions of Stendhal and Baudelaire, the Mémoires d’outre-tombe by Chateaubriand and everything by Flaubert, the novels and tales of Barbey d’Aurevilly, everything by Nerval, Verlaine, Mallarmé and Rimbaud, Huysmans, the Belgians Maeterlinck, Verhaeren, Rodenbach, Max Elskamp, to name only a few of Suarès’ suggestions.

Through his bookseller Camille Bloch, Jacques Doucet came into contact with the young writers of the “Esprit nouveau”. He paid them in exchange for a letter of reflection on the artistic and literary movements of the time. Max Jacob offered him the manuscript of Blaise Cendrar’s la Prose du Transsibérien and the manuscript and corrected proofs of Pâques, whereas Guillaume Apollinaire provided him with the manuscripts of Le Bestiaire and the manuscript and corrected proofs of Le Poète assassiné. In December 1920, Doucet met André Breton, whom he recruited first as an artistic and literary correspondent then as librarian, joined in 1922 by Louis Aragon. Both played a decisive role in determining the direction taken by the library. Their aim was not only to complete the collection amassed at the initiative of Suarès, but also to extend it to include everything that had contributed to the “formation of the poetic mentality of their generation”. In October 1922, they drew up a list of authors for a poetic library largely open to their Dadaist and surrealist friends. They even added a list of manuscripts to be purchased together with the prices. New additions to the collection included works  by Tristan Tzara, Paul Eluard and Robert Desnos. In this way influenced by the greatest authors of the early 20th century Doucet built up a collection which brings together the most prestigious names in French literature: Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarmé, Apollinaire, Reverdy, Cendrars, Breton and most of the surrealists.

Doucot died in 1929. Bequeathed to the University of Paris by virtue of a holograph testament dated 1 June 1929, his collection assumed the status of public library the day after a decree was signed in 1932. In his will, Jacques Doucet had stated his desire that his literary library be reunited with the library of art and archaeology which he had already given to the University of Paris in 1917. Placed under the direct authority of the “Recteur” on its creation, the administration and financial management has, since 1972, fallen under the auspices of the Chancery of the Universities of Paris as part of the undivided estate of the former University of Paris.

Book Collecting on a Shoestring: Everything you’ve always wanted to know about books but never dared to ask
At the Grand Palais one stand will devoted to the introduction to book collecting, run by SLAM members with a view to enlightening collectors who are just beginners, accompanying them in their first purchase and sharing their expertise and passion.



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