Early in 1976 Patrick Waldberg, writer and art historian and a friend of Georges Bataille and André Breton, set up a new publishing house in Paris with Joaquim Vital and Marcel Paquet. Called Éditions de la Différence, the aim was to produce high-quality books on art and literature. Remembering that she had produced artwork for it before, which you can see here, among the first volumes commissioned by Waldberg was an new Leonor Fini-illustrated portfolio edition of Marcel Schwob’s symbolist classic Le livre de Monelle.
Leonor was delighted to be asked to revisit the theme of poverty-stricken Paris street-girls surviving against the odds, and produced some of her best and most haunting engravings to accompany the Éditions de la Différence portfolio.
The Éditions de la Différence edition of Le livre de Monelle, with twelve large plates and twelve smaller portraits of the girls given voice by Schwob, was produced as a large-format numbered boxed portfolio in a limited printing of 175 copies.
An interesting definition from the online Urban Dictionary suggests that a Monelle, as in ‘What a Monelle you are!’, is ‘a pretty girl with light brown hair and big breasts, usually bi-curious and kinky in bed’. Monelle is an uncommon name, so does this have any connection with Schwob’s book?