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  • A Fleeting Ripple

The mad happiness: Gallimard collection papeterie notebook

A sullen, grey mood has settled over. The clouds are close to the roofs of the buildings, trapping the heat and the humidity. A wind, a gentle breeze might lift up the weather, but there is none in sight. Neighbours across the street are scraping off the paint over their wooden windows, tiny chips littering the street. They’re late, most of the other houses finished painting the frames weeks ago. Perhaps they were on a holiday, just arrived? Maybe they just moved in, painting the frames again for good luck? They are unfamiliar, like so many these days, neighbours just strangers that live on the same block.

These notebooks were everywhere in Paris. In every book store, stationery store, even in souvenir shops. The funny thing -I later realised- was that these notebooks share the same covers as the books that Gallimard prints. So, it was a bit of a surprise to see whether there was a book or a notebook inside the covers. The covers themselves are subtly elegant with thick, cream paper and printed with a red, high-contrast serif font. My notebook is the edition of “Le Bonheur Fou” by Jean Giono. The title of the book apparently means “the mad happiness” but the English translation of the books seems to be called “The Straw Man.” I haven’t read the actual book.

Anyway, I wasn’t too eager to get these notebooks at first. I had shuffled through one and the paper didn’t seem very fountain pen friendly to me. In the end, I decided to get one mostly because I had seen so many of them. “Le Bonheur Fou” felt rather fitting, considering how happy I was in Paris…

When I got home, the notebook satin my notebook drawer for a bit, waiting its turn to be used. I like using “special” notebooks to journal, even when they don’t have great paper, simply because the associated memories make me smile.

After unwrapping the plastic and finally opening the delicious cardboard cover, I was confronted with a question taken from the said book:

“Suis-je heureux?”

“Am I happy?”

What a notebook to make a journal out of, isn’t it?

That question has been on my mind every time I open the cover. Every time I need to journal, I was confronted by the question that requires a lifetime to answer. Albeit, it is also the simplest question one can ask themselves. Am I happy?

Just like life, the answer is complicated when it comes to whether I’m happy about this notebook or not.

I love the cover. I love the nod to the book, I love that it’s the size of a book. I love the cream & red colour scheme. I love everything except one big thing: the writing experience. The paper inside the covers does not handle fountain pens at all. Well, unfortunately for this notebook, I only write with fountain pens.

Almost all of the pens and inks I’ve used feather and blotch. The lines are never sharp and clear, but always with little jagged edges. The paper is called “Schleipen Fly 90g/m2.” It’s truly terrible. My Kaweco Sport with a dry extra fine nib inked with Noodler’s Heart of Darkness does not feather on the cheap copy paper that our school uses. It feathers horribly on this one. Contrary to what you might expect from 90g/m2 paper, it also shows through and bleeds through. It’s generally a mess to use.

Gallimard probably sells enough of these that they don’t really have to care about the paper quality inside, but it is an occupational hazard for me to nitpick the overall quality. With slightly better paper inside, it would’ve been a dream come true. The perfect gift. Just pick one up with the cover of your favourite book. Amazing. Alas, this missed opportunity to make fountain pen people happy does not cost Gallimard anything. It only crushes my dreams a little. I guess the only thing left for me to do is to search for the perfect literary inspired notebook with awesome, fountain pen friendly paper inside.

Thank you for reading!

1 Comment

May 11

Thank you !

I got one as a gift, and it is truly lovely on the outside. The "la blanche" cover is great, but I pen tested it and had exactly the same gripe as you. This paper is terrible: Kaweco EF but even fineliners are feathering... Using only fountain pens, I struggle finding a use for it. What did you end up using yours for ?

Btw, your blog is lovely :)



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