Lot n° 241
7000 - 8000
VIAN Boris (1920-1959).
autograph manuscript by boris vian, omar n. bradley. Histoire d'un Soldat, [1951-1952]; 925 pages in-4 (tear to dedication leaf, 2nd repaired with tape, some edges a little frayed), in cloth jacket; in French.
Monumental manuscript of Boris Vian's translation of General Bradley's memoirs from the American.
The American General Omar Nelson BRADLEY (1893-1981), one of the heroes of the Second World War, published his memoirs in 1951 under the title A Soldier's Story (New York, Holt, 1951); the French translation by Boris Vian was published by Gallimard in June 1952; Boris Vian had signed the contract on July 12, 1951.
It is to the memoirs of one of the greatest American figures of the Second World War that Boris Vian devoted the most monumental of his translations. According to the publisher's presentation: "The story of General Bradley is also the story of the war in Europe, and no one was more competent to tell it than this leader adored by his troops, this technician, one of the most brilliant of modern times. [...] In reading his memoirs, one gets a glimpse of the terrible responsibilities that come with a command-in-chief, and one also understands why General Omar Bradley is considered today to be America's premier soldier.
It was also a "terrible responsibility" for Boris Vian to carry out this important task of translation, he the recognized anti-militarist ("Histoire d'un connard", wrote Vian on the sending of the book to his friend Claude Léon), who accepted this order by challenge and by financial necessity. He took it very seriously, as the thick manuscript file of his translation shows (his wife Ursula tells us that Vian's hands cramped up while writing).
The manuscript, in violet and blue inks, is heavily crossed out and corrected.
It consists of 23 chapters, preceded by a dedication ("To those soldiers who often had to wonder who they were over there. Perhaps this will help them to solve the problem"), of thanks, and of the Preface: "Why and how this book was written".
Chapter I. Designated for the invasion of Normandy; II. On the other side of the water; III. Tunisia; IV. With Patton towards El Guettar; V. General, commanding the II Corps; VI. Objective Bizerte; VII. End of the Afrika Korps; VIII. Preparation of the landing in Sicily; IX. Invasion of Sicily; X. Towards Messina by the coastal road; XI. Arrival in England; XII. Evolution of the Overlord project; XIII. Command problems; XIV. Preparing the assault; XV. D-Day in Normandy; XVI. Cherbourg falls; XVII. Breakthrough; XVIII. Encirclement of a German Army; Liberation of Paris; XX. Running out of supplies; XXI. Counter-offensive; XXII. Crossing of the Rhine; XXIII. Up to the Elbe.
Let's quote the last lines: "A canvas map pouch lay under my helmet with four silver stars. Five years earlier, on May 7, as a lieutenant colonel in civilian clothes, I took the bus down Connecticut Avenue to my office in the old Munitions Building. I opened the map and smoothed out the tabs of the 43 U.S.
divisions now under my command. They stretched along the 1020-kilometer stretch of the 12th Army Group. With an ink pen, I wrote the new date: D+335. I went to the window and opened the passive defense curtains. Outside, the sun was climbing into the sky. The war was over in Europe.
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