Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Book Covers of Louis Couperus

One of the most pleasant things about doing historical research is finding one's way down paths known only to locals. While taking a break from my research in London, I visited a friend of mine in Amsterdam for a week, expecting to find rather dandy-free diversions while there. The funny thing about obsessions is that they linger in the air around you, attracting their own kind. One night I ended up in an attic garret with a group of philosophy students from the local university, who were drinking wine, smoking hashish, and reciting poetry to one another. One young man, who was reciting some lines particularly violently, explained to me afterward that they were by Louis Couperus - a famous Dutch writer whose work is sadly overlooked outside his native country. Couperus was active during the belle époque, and was compared by many to Oscar Wilde, who was a fan of his. Several of his works are available in English translation at Gutenberg.org.

But what I wanted to share are the beautiful book covers of some of his first editions, which are on Couperus' Wikipedia page. I hope my book looks this nice.

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