10 June 2024

Three Weeks in Thirteen Images

Of all the illustrations depicting young Paul Verdayne and his dark lady love, the worst I've seen is featured on the jacket for the 1950 Duckworth edition. The novel never once describes Paul as having a moustache. The lady's hair should be raven, not red. She dresses only in black, deep purple, and white. And does Paul not look older than his twenty-two years? The lady should be ten years his senior. They do travel by  gondola at one point, but it is covered.

The earliest editions of Three Weeks had no cover illustrations. In all likelihood the first depiction of the lady came with the frontispiece of the 1907 Duckworth first edition. I don't have a copy myself, and so am sharing this image of a copy currently being offered by Addyman Books of Hay-on Wye. A very good price at £154.50.

The description is every bit as striking as the portrait.

Duffield, the novel's first American publisher, used the above before switching to this:

And so we have two entirely different images described as "the only one available."

This early Macaulay dust jacket provides another mystery as no one has yet been able to identify the source of the photo.

I'm fairly certain that this woman is Madlaine Traverse:

The Moving Picture World, 15 June 1918
If true, I'm even more confident that the source is the 1914 film adaptation, in which Traverse plays the lady, known in this film as Sonia, Queen of Veseria.

Sadly, predictably, Hollywood's 1914 Three Days has long been lost. Not so the 1924 adaptation! My Macaulay copy is a tie-in. I chose it over this alternate cover:

The 1974 Duckworth hardcover also tempted because of the Cecil Beaton introduction, and for the glam rock-inspired cover illustration.

It reminds me of nothing so much as Bryan Ferry's tiger skin jacket, Flashbacks of a Fool, and this:

I don't know that I have a favourite cover, though I do enjoy looking over the translations. My favourite is the Czech, Tři Týdny (1925), which focusses on the gondola scene. As with the 1950 Duckworth edition, the cover is missing, but here hair colour and garb are pretty much correct...

...unlike the 1960 Digit paperback:

It has been over three decades since Three Weeks passed into the public domain. Remarkably, the only publisher taking advantage is Virago. Its cover uses a portion of Georges Clairin's 1876 Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt. Not a bad choice, though the only dog to feature in the novel is Pike, Paul's beloved terrier. The lady never meets him.

According to the Virago website, Three Weeks has sold over five million copies. Roughly two million more since the 1960 Digit edition. 

As far as I've been able to determine, there has never been a Canadian edition.

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