La joie des sept couleurs

Pierre Albert-Birot (1876 - 1967)
Pierre Albert-Birot (1876 - 1967)
Title page

Pierre Albert-Birot is one of the few French authors who typeset and printed his texts by hand. The results are somewhat amateurish. Some texts are printed vertically or have been placed inside a border frame on the page; these peculiarities are intentional, and would never have been the goal of any ordinary printer or publisher. The text has been typeset in small capitals, with large capitals at the start. After page 40, the page numbers leap forward to 51, an error noted among the errata in the rear of the book.

This copy bears a handwritten dedication by the poet/printer to Raymond de Rienzi, an all but forgotten writer of science-fiction stories, like the novel Les formiciens (1932), which is set in the Jura era, and in which speaking, intelligent ants appear. Albert-Birot dedicates his 'unspeakable' book to him. The poet writes that he has to write a beautiful poem, because he can smell the acacias and because the sun wants him to, but that his lust for life has been ruined by the war years:

Il faut que je fasse un beau poème

Parce que je suis bien

Parce que mon nez sent les acacias

Parce que mes yeux

Voient des arbres qui sont heureux

D'être verts

Et de balancer sous le ciel bleu.

The sketches for the wrapper design have been included in this copy. The sketches were made on orange paper. The second sketch is closer to the final product and is drawn (together with a design for the collection of poetry Poèmes quotidiens) on the inside of an envelope addressed to Albert-Birot by Raymond Radiguet. Both sketches note that the book is illustrated with 5 'poèmes-paysages' (poetry landscapes) by the author.

Bibliographical description

La joie des sept couleurs : poème orné de cinq poèmes-paysages hors-texte, le tout composé en 1918 / par Pierre Albert-Birot. - Paris : Sic, 1919. - 80 p. : ill. ; 20 cm
l'Impr. spéciale de Sic
120 copies
This copy:
Number 34 of 120 on Arches
Handwritten dedication by Pierre Albert-Birot to Raymond de Rienzi; With two sketches for the cover, one on an envelope addressed to the author by Raymond Radiguet
Koopm M 754


  • Debra Kelly, Pierre Albert-Birot: A poetics in movement, A poetics of movement. Madison, Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1997
  • Marie-Louise Lentengre, Pierre Albert-Birot, l'invention de soi. Paris, Place, 1993
  • Sic. Arlette Albert-Birot (Red.). Paris, Place, 1980
  • Pierre Albert-Birot, laboratoire de modernité. Paris, Place, 1997