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Hervé Vilez-Paul Verlaine

The Hervé Vilez-Paul Verlaine Collection begins in 1866, the year the symbolist poet Paul Verlaine first debuted his work in print. With over 1,400 items, the collection provides in-depth coverage of Verlaine’s life and works and ranges from original 19th century newspaper clippings that highlight the poet’s contribution to the contemporary literary scene to modern works that prove his continual influence in the 21st century, as well as original paintings, drawings, and other artistic creations. The collection features editions of Verlaine’s poetry and prose, as well as works he enriched by virtue of writing introductions, dedicating poems, and other literary contributions during the late 1800s. The majority of the collection features books, pamphlets, and journals published in the French language, though also includes numerous translations of Verlaine’s poetry in languages such as English, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Hungarian.

The collection is enhanced by an extensive ensemble of Verlaine’s erotic poetry, comprising what former collection owner, the poet Hervé Vilez, named “Verlaine en Curiosa”. Highlighted among this group are numerous erotica-illustrated volumes from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Featured works include a hand-written edition of Hombres (Hommes) from 1925, copied at “Bourg l’Abbé, 69 place des Eréctions” and justified by a fingerprint, a leather-bound with ivory inlay 1936 edition of Amies, Hombres with large-scale watercolors by Brutus, as well as new illustrated interpretations of Verlaine’s poetry, such as the 1997 hand-colored, erotic version of Freundinnen – Amies, illustrated by Elfriede Weidenhaus.

The works in this collection are enhanced by Vilez’s own catalogue, which includes original date of sale descriptions, annotations, and information by rare book experts, all of which call attention to the value of the collection’s first editions, many of which are signed, annotated, or illustrated by hand.

Biographical notice on Hervé Vilez: Hervé Vilez, of Boulogne-sur-Seine, France, began writing poetry at the age of fourteen. In 1967 he received the Prix international de Poésie classique. He subsequently won several more poetry competitions, notably multiple Académie Française championships. In 1981 he became Secretary General of the Société des Amis de Rimbaud, which sparked his interest in the life and works of Arthur Rimbaud’s lover, the poet Paul Verlaine. In 1986, he was decorated with the Médaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris by Jacques Chirac.

The Vanderbilt Library purchased the Collection in 2016.


Hervé Vilez and Professor Robert Barsky

Hervé Vilez and Professor Robert Barsky