In the 1950s, the Belgian publishing house Gérard set up a paperback imprint, Bibliothèque Marabout. Early editions featured a marabou stork as colophon, no doubt in imitation of Penguin, which was the inspiration for Gérard’s paperback venture. The books were cheaply produced on low quality paper, with early editions affected by poorly glued spines that tended to fall apart after more than one reading. Nevertheless we must be grateful to Gérard for employing, among its editorial directors, genre specialists such as Jean-Baptiste Baronian and developing in Marabout fantastique what is arguably the finest range of fantasy titles put together by any mainstream paperback publisher. Not the least of its achievement has been promoting and making easily available in French almost the complete published works of Jean Ray.
Marabout fantastique includes a wide range of contemporary titles from French and Belgian writers, also classics from the 19th and early 20th centuries and numerous translations, from English, German and other European languages. We can also congratulate Marabout fantastique for refusing to discriminate between titles by upmarket literary names and more popular titles; they also published a number of first editions.
In the early 1970s, during a nine months stay in Paris as a student, I regularly made the rounds of the bouquinistes and visited the second hand department of Gibert Jeune, the big bookshop on the Boulevard St-Michel. As a result I accumulated a large quantity of books, not a few of them Marabout editions. As I say, all my acquisitions were 2nd hand, and the ensuing years have left further battle scars on the Marabout volumes, nevertheless here below, are scans of the covers from my little Marabout collection (images included elsewhere on this blog are omitted). With the exception of the Marcel Brion title, none of these have been cleaned up with Photoshop, so I apologise for the visible traces of distress. This gallery, of course, represents only a fraction of Marabout fantastique. It isn’t difficult to find further online images of covers from the collection; further information and some further images can be found on the Ligotti Nightmare Network: http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?t=7825 (‘l’école belge de l’étrange’ thread).
(Click on an image to enlarge).