Founded in 2017 and Paris-Lisbon based, Éditions Ismael is a publisher in the form of a non-profit association, which publishes books in French and other languages. The type of works published are mainly narrative, philosophical, and scientific. All can be freely downloaded at editions-ismael.com, even if also sold in print.
Parallel to its editorial activity, Éditions Ismael is developing an independent archival project which will be launched in 2023.
Ismael? The name of Abraham and Hagar’s son fulfills a very specific symbolic function. In the Book of Genesis, he is the embodiment of the tragic moment of rejection and outward promise. He is the patriarch of another line of descent: alongside the sons of Isaac—the people of Yahweh’s Covenant, the characters of the biblical narrative, and the only actors in History—, the nomadic progeny of Ismael dwells in the margins of the text, in the desert. The nobility and respect they are entitled to are not denied to them by their brothers, but their deeds are never referred to, their names rarely mentioned, and their literal presence limited to brief moments in which they burst through from the edges into the historical world.
Like Isaac’s line of descent, Literature also excluded a multitude of actors and practices from its history. Through its catalogue, this editorial project aims to question the legitimacy of “Literature” as a modern concept regulating the entire field of writing (in its broadest sense). We challenge: 1) the originality and continuity of the successions in literary history; 2) the legitimacy of hegemonic literary discourses and practices; 3) the legitimacy of the market’s standardisation of Literature in form and content and its right to judge what can and cannot be published.
Limited resources, discretion, a non-profit approach, broad economic and functional independence, a serious communication, and a refusal to disregard quality are some of the basic tenets of our methodology.
Our catalogue is not so much a coherent whole as a series of actions. Each book is a unique project, the result of personal collaboration that redefines our methodology at every level and our understanding of editorial and literary practices.
Below are some of the main threads for the present and future:
1) To find, establish, question, and interpret texts that very often draw their meaning from historical circumstances and challenge our taste with their outward poetical poverty. These are mostly epistles, memoirs, court records, confessions, personal meditations, testimonies, diaries, reports, sermons, etc. Hermeneutics will therefore be of great importance, given that it will enable the genesis of these literary acts to be rethought and question how they redefine Literature and its history through their singular use of language and tradition. To sum up, the catalogue aims to develop a critical history of literature and to diversify its concept, giving credit and attention to its myriad practices. Moreover, in each publication, we intend to question the meaning of literature and writing in general.
2) To publish previously unseen, out-of-print or hardly and hard-to-access narrative, poetic, philosophical, and/or scientific works that are innovative in their respective field. The aim is to promote little-known works and to reinforce the presence and impact of texts, which, known to only a relatively small readership, are on the verge of completely vanishing from circulation.
Based on its association status and the benevolent work of its members, and limiting its costs principally to copyright and printer’s fees (small print runs, often in offset), Éditions Ismael aspires to thrive and develop while ensuring its authors are well remunerated and its publications are freely and widely available to readers all around the world. Depending on the country, we hire a distributor (cf. infra) to deliver our printed editions to bookstores or we distribute them ourselves. We always sell them at the lowest possible price (accounting for costs and royalties), and, in line with our status, all profit is reinvested in new titles.