18 November 2014
[ANDRÉA DE NERCIAT, André-Robert (1739-1800).] Le diable au corps. [Mézières: Frémont,] 1803.
Three volumes, octavo (225 x 134 mm). Printed on laid paper. With half-titles. 20 copper engravings before letters, attributed to Bornet. (Occasional negligible soiling.) Uncut in full red morocco by Lavaux, signed, spines lettered directly in gilt and tooled in compartments with raised bands, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt.
FIRST EDITION OF THE AUTHOR’S MASTERPIECE. A TALL, UNCUT COPY OF THE LARGE-PAPER ISSUE, ‘VERY RARE’ IN THIS FORMAT (Dutel). Le diable au corps is the most renowned of his considerable body of work, recounting a succession of ever more spectacular erotic exploits ‘in a language full of jubilation and stuffed with neologisms’ (Eros invaincu). Andréa de Nerciat had the text ready by 1789, and even issued a partial version under the title Les écarts du tempérament, but publication was derailed by the French Revolution, and then delayed by the political climate. When eventually published, the majority of the edition was seized and destroyed when its Belgian printer, Frémont, arrived in Paris. AE and ABPC record only two complete copies at auction in the past fifty years; of these the present copy is the tallest, with the widest margins. The copy in the Bibliothèque nationale de France is incomplete, lacking a plate in volume 2. The text was reset for the smaller, octodecimo issue; in the present larger issue the plates include architectural borders which were removed to fit the smaller format. Cohen-DeRicci 750; Dutel A-271; Eros invaincu 44; Pia Enfer, 331.
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