All text, concepts and images ©2009 - 2021 Debra Healy
unless otherwise stated.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Zesty Literary Scandal Peirre Louys, Illustrated by Georges Barbier


Les Chansons de Bilitis,1922
George Barbier was a master of scintillating illustration.

One book in particular Les Chansons de Bilitis,, 1922. Written in 1894 by Pierre Louys who claimed to have discovered and translated the work of the ancient poetess Bilitis a, contemporary of Sappho. It contains 143 prose poems, Songs of Bilitis.  

The courtesan poet Bilitis was supposed to have  been to the daughter of A Greek father and 

a Phoenician mother.   The pretense that Louys was the translator of an ancient text did not last very long, and "translator" Lou├┐s was soon outed as Bilitis herself. 

This only enhanced interest in the book. 

The Songs of Bilitis was praised as a fount of elegant sensuality and refined style, even more extraordinary for the time was the author's compassionate portrayal of lesbian and female sexuality. 

Dover republished the 1926 edition of the English translation of this book
with illustrations by Willy Pogany 

From my collection of illustrations by George Barbier