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Barney, Natalie, her copy) Clermont-Tonnerre, E.

Tardif envoi de Fleurs.


Inscribed To Natalie Barney
[Barney, Natalie Clifford, her copy] Clermont-Tonnerre, E. de. Tardif envoi de Fleurs. Paris: Extrait du Mercure de France, 1-10-1916.
Slim 8vo.; pages browned; printed wrappers, sewn; lightly soiled. In a specially made cloth slipcase.
First separately printed edition of this essay on de Gourmont, to whom the work bears a printed dedication. A presentation copy, inscribed.
One of the great French litterateurs of his day, Gourmont produced fiction, verse, essays and literary criticism, as well as co-founding the journal Mercure de France. As a leading Symbolist, he was a significant influence upon Eliot, Pound, and many others. Handsome and social as a young man, he was disfigured by lupus in his 30s, after which he grew increasingly reclusive. His return to ordinary life was inspired by meeting Natalie Clifford Barney, with whom he fell rapidly in love, and on whose behalf he set to energetically celebrating her talent and wit in print. His nickname for her, partly in recognition of her equestrienne skill, was l'Amazone. When he initiated a series of philosophical letters to Natalie in the Mercurue, he addressed them to the Amazon, a sobriquet that would remain attached to Barney's name for the remainder of her life: indeed, the title is carved on her tombstone.
Descended from Henry IV, Lily de Gramont was, unsurprisingly, a friend of Proust, in whose novel she appears. He remarked that her voice was the freshest and most ravishing that he had ever heard, and compared her laugh to the notes of a bullfinch. Her four volumes of memoirs form an insider's chronicle of the world Proust transmuted into fiction, the life of the Faubourg Saint-Germain. Less loftily, she appears in Djuna Barnes's satirical A Ladies Almanack, as the Duchess Clitoressa. Lily was Natalie Clifford Barney's lover for some years but their intimate friendship continued until the duchess's death in 1954, as attested to by the 432 letters and 17 telegrams from Lily that were preserved by Barney amongst her correspondence. Although their love affair had begun earlier, they were very close during 1910-1915, the years of Barney's friendship with de Gourmont. According to Barney's biographer, George Wickes,
Temperamentally Lily suited her better than any other woman she had ever known. The chapter on Lily in Sounveirs indiscrets gives a fine sense of the originality and humour that were an endless source of delight to Natalie. This portrait explains why Lily was one of Natalie's most beloved friends for so many years and why Natalie was devastated by her death.
For many years, Natalie Barney and Lily conducted a civilized menage a trios with Romaine Brooks, whose portrait of Lily now hangs in the Smithsonian. Brooks' sympathetic rendering of her rival is appropriate. To quote Wickes again: "Lily and Romaine were the two greatest loves of Natalie's life, the two women with whom she had the deepest and most enduring intimacy."

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