Thursday, 18 May 2017

Harvill, Hyman, Hénaff & MacLehose

At the end of the last century there was a wonderful series of books being published by what was then the Harvill imprint, under the editorship of Christopher MacLehose. In the end there were at least 230 in this series, most of them translations, all recognisable by the stripe-and-lion on the left-hand-side of the cover.

I bought as many as I could at the time, and have been collecting them ever since when I come across them second-hand. Here are the piles of those I've not yet read...

Sadly, Harvill was swallowed up by Random House, and most of the list left to slide out of print. Fortunately, however, Christopher MacLehose later set up a new imprint, MacLehose Press, much of which is dedicated to fiction in translation. I bought one of their books recently--Sophie Hénaff's Parisian crime novel The Awkward Squad, and found that it was labelled as the third 'Maclehose Edition'.

Investigating further, I discovered these MacLehose Editions seem to be the beginning of  new list of translated books which I hope will come to rival the original Harvill series. Some of the other titles, published and forthcoming, are these:

Back to the Hénaff: it has a lovely and distinctive cover drawn by one Miles Hyman, who has also provided covers for other MacLehose books... well as for other publishers, both English and French. I knew Hyman's work from his excellent graphic-novel adaption/expansion of his grandmother's famous short story of group madness and cruelty: Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery'.

Here are some of the book's pages (click to enlarge):

So, in short: old Harvills, MacLehose books, Miles Hyman's work--explore them all.


Tororo said...

Exciting news. I have been watching Hyman's published work for quite a while, and was amazed by his rendition of The Lottery.

SteveHolt said...

I'm looking forward to checking out these MacLehose titles; I hadn't heard of them before.

I got interested in the Harvill backlist when I came across a list of the first 216 books in the series in the back of a copy of Bulgakov's "A Country Doctor's Notebook."

When I visited a bunch of used bookstores in London recently, I checked the back of every Harvill paperback I found for another list but not one of them had it. I wonder why it seems so hard to find a complete list, especially in the internet age. Or is the 230 or so you've noted reasonably complete?

JRSM said...

Tororo, his 'Lottery' worked really well, didn't it?

Steve, the highest-numbered Harvill I ever found was no. 305, 'Child of an Ancient People', but I haven't seen any list going past the early 200s either, so I'm not sure quite what happened there. I have a scanned list up to about 230-something which I'll tweet to you if I can track it down.

Katharina Bielenberg (MacLehose Press) said...

I love it that you have made the connection! The last Harvill "Leopard" TPB was published more than 10 years ago now, so we thought it was about time for a new series, early days yet. I'm not sure how high the numbers of the TPBs got, but I could find out. I have a 272, in William Maxwell's The Chateau (2000). The decision to number the new list was a tough one, we didn't want to confuse anybody, but on the other hand for anybody wanting to collect, it is discreetly there.

JRSM said...

Yes, as soon as I saw the '3' on the back of 'The Awkward Squad' I went "AHA!". And also, quietly, so that my wife couldn't hear me, "I must collect all of these!"

Jonathan Walker said...

I had that Leo Perutz too - and several others in the series.