16 June 2015
[LA FAYETTE, Marie-Madelaine, comtesse de Pioche de la Vergne (1634-1693).] La princesse de Cleves. Tome I[-Tome IV]. Paris: Claude Barbin, 1678.
4 volumes in 2, 12° (152 x 85mm). Wood-engraved device on titles, headpieces and initials. (Without final blank at end of Tome II, short tear to I.A1 just into text, but without loss, tiny tear to IV.D1, occasional light spotting and browning.) Contemporary calf, gilt spines, red speckled edges (expertly restored and rebacked). Provenance: early ink manuscript on front free endpaper and a couple of corrections in the text.
SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST MODERN FRENCH NOVEL.
Published anonymously, La Princesse de Clèves enjoyed a remarkable success: 'Pour la première fois dans l’histoire du genre romanesque, la peinture du cœur est le principal objet d’un roman' (Henri Coulet). La Fayette never officially admitted that she was the author and the novel was not published under her name before 1780.
A good copy in contemporary calf gilt.
Coulet, Le Roman jusqu’à la Révolution, p. 252; Bibliothèque Nationale, En français dans le texte 113; Soultrait 17th century 125.
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