TOUSSAINT, Franz. ~ Le Jardin des caresses. May [-June], 1936
Autograph manuscript on paper, square 8vo, (115 × 105 mm), pp. , plus several blanks at rear, paper watermarked in Arabic. Text in French, chapter divisions in the form of a calligraphic leaf, a few corrections on pasted overslips, signed three times by the author. Original wallet style goatskin, painted and gilt in Moorish style, purple and white head and tail bands, gold endpapers, further green endpapers (two with the author’s monogrammed stamp). Spine slightly rubbed. Two endpapers loose. Original case.
An autograph copy of a classic text of French orientalism, made by the author for his wife and inscribed ‘À Etelka, ma femme bien-aimée, qui est pour moi toute la splendour du monde et toute la poësie. Franz Toussaint. Mai 1936.’
Le Jardin des caresses. Traduit de l'arabe, consisting of Toussaint’s interpretation of Moorish poems, partly anonymous, written in tenth-century Spain, first appeared serially in the Mercure de France and Revue de Paris in 1909-1911, then published together in 1911 and reprinted and translated in numerous editions throughout the twentieth century (the Golden Cockerel Press printed an English edition in 1934). Its numerous short stanzas, whose titles include: ‘Les Seins, les yeux, et la chevelure’, ‘Les oiseaux de la mosquée’, ‘La Sultane de l’amour’, ‘Al Maghreb’, ‘Les Sorciers’, ‘L’Astronome’ and ‘La Volupueuse’proved especially suitable for musical settings and so the work also found huge popularity in song.
Toussaint is an interesting figure, both a respected scholarly translator of Arabic and other eastern languages, and a director of silent films, the best-known of which is Inch’Allah of 1922. This appealing little manuscript was evidently made by the author as a gift for his second wife, Turkish-born Adelaïde Etelca Stefania Braggiotti, who he married in 1925.