Au Sans Pareil

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Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), Le poète assassiné (The Poet Assassinated), Lithographies de Raoul Dufy (Paris: Sans Pareil, 1926). Copy 136 of 380. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2011-0228Q

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René Hilsum (1895-1990) launched his first publication in 1912 while still a student at the Collège Chaptal in Paris. The magazine was called Vers l’Idéal: rêver le juste, aimer le beau et dire le vrai (Towards the Ideal: Dream of the Just, Love Beauty and Speak the Truth). Although it didn’t last long, it had the distinction of being the first to publish the poetry of a classmate, André Breton (1896-1966).

During the First World War, both Hilsum and Breton joined the medical auxiliary and when the war was over, Hilsum decided he wanted to continue publishing the work of his friends and acquaintances. He talked his godmother into giving him some money and opened a publishing house and gallery, Sans Pareil (Without Equal) in 1919.

Hilsum published the recently discovered Les mains de Jeanne-Marie by Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) together with illustrations by Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931) and then, Breton’s Mont de Piété with plates by André Derain (1880-1954). Over the next 17 years, Hilsum published 170 books before he finally closed the doors in 1936.

The first years were the most daring. By the time he published Apollinaire’s novel Le poète assassiné (The Poet Assassinated) with illustrations by Raoul Dufy (1877-1953), most of the Surrealists had left his shop for that of Gaston Gallimard (1881-1975).

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See also Pascal Fouché, Au Sans Pareils (Paris: Bibliothèque de littérature française contemporaine de l’Université Paris 7, 1983). Recap Z305.A7 F68