Le Roman du Lievre

Le Roman du Lievre is a book. It was written in 1906 by the French poet Francis Jammes. In the 1920s Le Roman du Lievre was translated into English by Gladys Edgerton.

Le Roman du Lievre is also the title of continuing series of personal and cooperative projects undertaken by Jimmy Riordan (see www.leromandulievre.com). Though it includes Jammes’ original text and Riordan’s own English translation of the Le Roman du Lievre, this blog is intended to specifically accompany Riordan’s projects.

More about Riordan’s Le Roman du Lievre:

“[Roman du Lievre] is a love story that follows the winding path traveled by all the great loves of a person’s life, which grow to be loved not because of some inherent worthiness, but because of the the events that slowly, over time, sews them-stitch by stitch-into a soul.”

-Mary Lochner, “The Meta Meta Mind of Jimmy Riordan” (Anchorage Press)

Riordan’s romance with Le Roman du Lievre began in 2002, when he first read Romance of the Rabbit, the 1920 translation of  Frances Jammes novel. He was drawn to the book by its appearance alone. A small case bound book covered in a light fabric with a sea gull on it, the book sat amongst the large brown and green volumes of a college library. He read it, fell in love, stole the book, and after a series of moves, lost It. Over the next  years, he obsessed over the book, all searches for a new copy unsuccessful.

ln 2007, while living in London, Riordan found both the French original and the English translations out of copyright and available on the internet. Not knowing French, he decided to translate the  1st paragraph of Le Roman du Lievre. Riordan discovered that the book was not about a rabbit but a hare. Such issues of authenticity and responsibility in translation inspired a series of artist books that he began referring to as Appendices to what would be an eventual translation of the book.

The following year Riordan completed his translation and presented the first incarnation of his Le Roman du Lievre to the public at Camberwell College in London: artist books and a meal comprised entirely of ingredients found in the book.


In 2008 Riordan moved to Alaska. Over that winter he bound 60 copies of his translation and sent them out to artists throughout the US, Canada and Europe. These artists responded to the text through the creation of new work. This art, which took all conceivable forms, including the returned books with sketches and notes made in them, and other ephemera were exhibited under the title Marginalia at the MTS Gallery in Anchorage, AK.  Marginalia operated at the edges of the text, not the core, setting a model for much of the work that followed.

The next spring Riordan boxed up all the work from the Marginalia exhibition, packed it into a truck and departed Alaska with the goal of meeting up with all the Marginalia artists based within the United States and Canada. He drove over 13,000 miles to return the work to them personally, in a way reversing relationships that were initially very abstract, founded solely on an interpretation or understanding of a shared text, making these relationships concrete based on real faces, people and locations.

Sinœ then Riordan has processed the Return To Me trip into a meta-catalog of the marginalia of the Marginalia show. He also traveled to Europe and returned work to Marginalia artists in Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK. Riordan visited Francis Jammes grave and the house where Le Roman du Lievre was written, and presented all of this evidence at the International Gallery in Anchorage (New Work, June 2012), a show consisting of print work, books, installations, sound art, and food (more detailed documentation at www.leromandulievre.com).

Most Recently Riordan has begun work on a series of comics structurally modeled after Le Roman du Lievre the book, drawing material from all the previous Le Roman du Lievre projects. It will run 18 to 23 issues.  In a lot of ways Held Up is a complex system of mnemonic devices. Every element symbolizes something, just not always something relevant to its plot. at this time the posts on this site are dedicated to Held Up, expanding upon the notes in each issue, providing insight, permitting us to explore tangential information in a way that can not be done in the print version.