SIMON, André Louis. The Art of Good Living. A Contribution to the better Understanding of Food and Drink together with a Gastronomic Vocabulary and a Wine Dictionary … with … a Foreword by Maurice Healy. London: Constable & Co Ltd, 1929.

Octavo (231 x 150mm), pp. xvi, 201, [1 (blank)], [2 (publisher’s advertisement)]. Colour-printed frontispiece after Bouchot, retaining tissue guard, and 11 half-tone illustrations after Grandville, Goya, Daumier, et al., retaining tissue guards. (Small marginal mark on p. 129.) Original vellum-backed marbled boards, spine lettered in gilt, top edges gilt, others uncut. (Small area of upper board slightly faded, extremities very lightly rubbed and bumped.) A very good, bright copy. Provenance: Henry Sotheran Ltd, London (bookseller’s ticket on upper pastedown) – later pencilled marginal note on p. 72. 

First edition, no. 93 of 300 copies signed by the author. André Simon (1877-1970), who ‘was regarded as the leading authority in the world on wine and gastronomy’ (ODNB), wrote The Art of Good Living ‘to help the reader derive greater enjoyment and benefit from his or her food and drink’ (p. 69) – and thus to live well – by conveying information about wines, foods, their histories, and ideal pairings. Gabler comments that, ‘[t]here are descriptions of vintage port, sherry, claret and other wines and of foods from hors d’oeuvres to desserts’, with an additional gastronomic vocabulary and wine dictionary towards the end. ‘From a historical perspective, connoisseurs may find the opening chapter on eating and drinking in the dining cars, hotels and restaurants of England to be of interest’.

While the work is, appropriately, dedicated ‘To Melchior Marquis de Polignac[,] a great gourmet and a great host’, Simon introduces The Art of Good Living within the context of the recent past: ‘Like all arts, the art of good living has known many vicissitudes. Like all arts, the art of war excepted, it needs peaceful and prosperous times to attain any degree of perfection. During war […] the mere fact of keeping alive is so grim a business that few, if any have the means, even if they had the inclination, to cultivate the art of good living’ (p. 3). Post-war ‘greed and ostentation’ then slowly give way to a more relaxed enjoyment of the fine things in life – as is the case at Simon’s time of writing. The Art of Good Living is, therefore, a celebration of all good things that, while no longer scarce, can now for the first time be appreciated in good taste.

In addition to this richly illustrated, finely produced limited edition, an unlimited edition was published by Constable in 1929, and an American edition by Knopf in 1930. Although the artist of the frontispiece is given on the title as Daumier, it is fact Bouchot, as is correctly stated below the image. Gabler, Wine into Words, G36490; Cagle, A Matter of Taste, 988; Bitting, p. 436.


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