PASCAL, Blaise (1623-1662). Les Pensées. Paris: Guillaume Desprez, [2 January] 1670.
12° (150 x 85mm). Printer's monogram device on title, engraved headpiece, type-ornament tailpieces, decorated initials. (Small marginal wormhole expertly repaired, a few leaves faintly browned, several leaves strengthened at hinge.) Contemporary calf, gilt spine, red sprinkled edges (discreet repairs at spine ends and extremities); modern black morocco solander box. Provenance: André Félibien, sieur des Avaux et de Javercy, royal historiographer (1619-1695, engraved armorial bookplates dated 1650, signature on title).
FIRST EDITION. Pascal's comprehensive Christian apologetic, unfinished at the time of this death, is a thorough investigation of human nature in its all aspects: psychological, social, metaphysical and theological. He sets out to show that the ultimate solution to problems inherent in human nature may be found in a fundamental belief in God; through true knowledge of God, true happiness may be found. At the time of Pascal's death in 1662 the Pensées were a collection of only partly ordered fragments. The first edition, published at the behest of his nephew, Etienne Perier, and his family, appeared in 1670 with an 'achevé d'imprimer' dated 2 January 1670. It followed an 'édition préoriginale', known in 2 copies only (Paris and Troyes), which appears to have served as a trial or proof edition, since it was issued without approbation, privilege, table of chapters, errata, and avertissement.
The contemporary owner of the present copy, André Félibien, was a celebrated historian and author of numerous work on architecture and art, documenting among other things French royal palaces and their collections. Pascal, Oeuvres complètes II Edition, ed. Michel le Guern, Paris: 2000; Le Maire 2; PMM 152; Tchermerzine 9:73.