Bibliothèque de la Pléiade  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Bibliothèque de la Pléiade is a prestigious French collection of books which was created in the 1930s by Jacques Schiffrin, an independent young editor. (His son, André Schiffrin, who moved to New York to escape from Nazism, founded The New Press). Schiffrin senior wanted to provide the public with reference editions of the complete works of classic authors in a pocket format. André Gide took an interest in Schiffrin's project and brought it into Gallimard.

The Pléiade has a strong emphasis on works that were originally written in French, though the collection also includes classics of world literature, such as bilingual editions of the works of William Shakespeare, or French edition of Jane Austen's work. To date, more than 500 books have been published in the series, with 11 books generally published every year.

All the books offer a similar high quality appearance, leather bound, gold lettering on the spine and bible paper and have a practical small format which make them look like a small Bible. Each century corresponds to a cover color. For instance, XXth century is brown. The books are sold in a transparent rhodoïd dust jacket, and inserted in a white printed cardboard slipcase.

The books are critical editions, full of annotations, comments, manuscript and edition variants and accompanying documents. The preparation of these critical editions can take many years for a team of specialists. For foreign authors, new reference French translations are systematically created.

The "entry into the Pléiade" is considered a major sign of recognition for an author in France, and it is extremely rare that a living author is published in the Pléiade (examples are Nathalie Sarraute, Julien Green...). In 2008, the works of Claude Lévi-Strauss have been published in the collection.

The Bibliothèque de la Pléiade also publishes an Album de la Pléiade every Summer, which is an illustrated book of the same format as the rest of the series, dedicated to one of the writers of the collection. The Albums are offered for free with the purchase of three books in the series.

In the 1960s and '70s, an Encyclopédie de la Pléiade in the same format was also created, under the direction of Raymond Queneau.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bibliothèque de la Pléiade" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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