Erutarettil, or, Treasures from the Antwerp library

I went to the Permeke library in the center of Antwerp yesterday evening and loaned these:

Two of these books I had already loaned, the work by Rachleff, which is excellent, and the sublime Sade / Surreal, which I’ve mentioned before here. Sade/Surreal is a pricey book (a French bookseller currently wants more than 300 EUR for it, but a German vendor is currently letting it go for less than 40 Euros, which is a bargain, if you have deep pockets, consider buying it for me as a present). For the last hour of so, I’ve been updating my wiki with the names found on the opening and closing pages of the book (pictured below), which reads like a who’s who of Sadean thought, a summa sadeica, as it were.

Sade Surreal inside page

Opening and closing page of Sade/Surreal

There were only a couple of names I could not identify, any help is welcome: Retz (either Gilles de Rais, or the cardinal with the same name, Young (perhaps Mr. Young of Night Thoughts?), de Saint Martin, Bertrand (probably Aloysius Bertrand ?) and Constant (Constantin Meunier?). The rest is indentified.

Also in the same book is the engraving below, which I find lovely, like a cake-building or a building of collapsing blubbery wet clay.

Tomb of Pompeii by Jean-Baptiste Tierce, 1766

Tomb of Pompeii by Jean-Baptiste Tierce, 1766

16 thoughts on “Erutarettil, or, Treasures from the Antwerp library

  1. Paul Rumsey

    Erutarettil, (Litterature spelt backwards), double page spread in Litterature, No. 11-12, October 1923. Edward Young, Night Thoughts. Claude de Saint- Martin.
    From Surrealists and Surrealism, SKIRA.

  2. Paul Rumsey

    Lacenaire was a murderer, not a writer, so Retz could be Gilles de Rais.

    As you like connections… Retz is also a surrealist place, a dwelling in the shape of a truncated column, an artificial ruin in the “Desert” of Retz, in the forest of Marly near Paris.
    Hans Arp visited and wrote a poem….

    “The white hair of stone, the black hair of water,
    The green hair of children, the white hair of eyes.”

    From Dream Palaces, Fantastic Houses and Thier Treasures, by Claude Arthaud.

  3. Paul Rumsey

    Correction, I see from Art and Pop that Lacenaire was also a poet, I took the mistake from the the SKIRA “Surrealists and Surrealism”, which says, “There were some who were not writers at all: Lacenaire the murderer. ….”

  4. Paul Rumsey

    I found some nice photos of the Desert of Retz by Michael Kenna, via google images and on pruned.blogspot, (it reminds me of fantastic architecture like Lequeu and Ledoux). And how do you restore the ruin of an artificial ruin?

  5. Paul Rumsey

    The photos of the Desert of Retz are from a book by Diana Ketcham…..I will have to get a copy!

  6. jahsonic

    Yes the Desert of Retz was new to me and I will want to make a stop there at one time. There and at Bomarzo, Italy. Thanks again.


  7. Mike

    I am hoping that one day the Sade/Surreal book gets translated into English (and when it does I hope the velvet covers remain!)–it’s such a beautiful book. I’ve checked it out a few times just to look at the pictures, but I’m sure reading the text would be a joy as well!

  8. lichanos

    If you visit Bomarzo, please post many pictures! I have not found a good pictorial treatment of the garden except for old, out of print very expensive editions.

  9. Paul Rumsey

    There is a book which came out last year, The Gardens of Bomarzo: A Renaissance Riddle, by Sheeler and Smith.

    I went there in 1974, when I was 18. Down via a steep rocky path, an old man sat in a sentry box by the gate, it was almost free to get in. The winding paths were leaf mould, the sculptures were mossy, hidden amoung the bushes and trees, it was dark and atmospheric, I was the only one there and I spent the day drawing.

    I went back with my wife in 1979, they were beginning to “tidy it up”, the sentry box by the gate was replaced with a small shed with cards and booklets.

    We returned in 1985, down via a wide road to a car and coach park, enter through a huge building containing ticket office, a large room of tourist junk, then a cafe, then a room of amusement machines, flashing lights and noise, then outside into a childrens zoo, then into the garden.
    The paths had been concreted, with barriers to stop you wandering, it was bright because the bushes and trees had been cut back. The moss had been removed from the sculptures, which were now all behind wire barriers. It was crowded with tourists and screaming children.

  10. jahsonic

    I don’t think many people knew the place back in 1974, can you remember how and/or where you first heard about Bomarzo? And did you ever see the Antonioni short that he made about the park?

  11. lichanos

    I learned about it c. 1977 when I was studying the history of European gardens. I wish I had visited it that summer when I was in Italy…sounds really cool. At least, it will be physically preserved as it is.

  12. Paul Rumsey

    At the end of my art foundation course I was given an award to stay for two weeks at the British School in Rome. I wanted to walk and hitch about Italy, one of the students there told me that I should go to the Park of Monsters. I slept the night in a field near Bomarzo, so I got there early in the morning and stayed all day.
    There are five atmospheric black and white photos of the park, taken on a misty winter day, included in the book “Italian Gardens” by Georgina Masson, Thames and Hudson 1961. The book says “the gardens are open to the public”. So the gardens were known about, but not part of the tourist industry.
    I have not seen the Antonioni.

  13. Paul Rumsey

    I also have an article in L’OEIL magazine (no 43-44) from 1958 with 8 photos, in these photos there are not many trees and the park looks bare.
    The “Dream Palaces” book, first published in France “Les Palais du Reve” Claude Arthaud 1972, (were I found Desert of Retz) also has Bomarzo, 10 photos. In these photos everything is soft with vegetation, which looks more romantic, but then the roots of weeds would destroy the sculptures, so Lichanos is right, it will be physically preserved as it is.
    And it is absurd of me to complain of other tourists! If you stay to the end of the day everyone else goes off and you can wander about on your own.
    I remember at Pompeii the crowds were so bad at midday that people were fighting at the entrance, but in the evening the place was deserted.

  14. lichanos

    What is the Antonioni short? Jahsonic – sounds like something for you to dig up and put on YouTube!

    I’ve seen some of the old B&W photos of Bomarzo – they certainly give it a mysterious and romantic air. Was that the designer’s intent? Interesting puzzle in the history of sensibility I think…

    Tourism is so problematic. To complain about it is snobbish and absurd, but how can you not when you can’t even stand and contemplate something in peace! I never go to “blockbuster” shows at the Metropolitan Museum because I hate the feeling of being in a Disneyland cattlecar environment. But how can I be negative about people wanting to see great art close up? Things were so much simpler 300 years ago, except for all that disease, infant mortality, religious persecution etc. etc. etc…..

  15. Paul Rumsey

    I am going to have to buy that Bomarzo book to find out more, I have found some more B&W photos in “Great Gardens of the World”, Peter Coats, 1963. In these photos there are not many trees, but lots of saplings, all about four feet high, so the owners must have decided to make a wood. And it must have been quite open when Breton and Cocteau visited in the 50s.
    I also have stopped going to “blockbusters” for the same reasons. I refuse to go to shows if I must book in advance. But it is only recently that art shows have attracted such crowds, people have been sold the idea that it is “the thing to do”.

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