[MANDEVILLE, Bernard de (1670-1733), attributed to.] Venus la populaire, ou apologie des maisons de joye. London: A. Moore [but probably France or Holland], 1727. 8°, collating: *6 A-H8 I1; pp. XII, 130. Dedication signed 'Phil-pornix', wood-engraved device on title of a winged head with two layers of wings and the face and wings detailed with fine lines, wood-engraved tailpiece of an urn with flowers on p.130, the third line of the quotation from Seneca on the title page reading 'extinguitur.', headpiece on p.[III] composed of type ornaments, penultimate line of text on p.  ending 'an-', all conforming to ESTC N504776. (Occasional light spotting and browning.)
[Bound with:] [MEUSNIER DE QUERLON, Anne-Gabriel (1702-1780)]. Histoire de la Touriere des Carmelites. The Hague: Pierre Marteau, 1745. 12°. First edition. (Lacking the frontispiece called for by Dutel, occasional light spotting and browning.)
2 works in one volume (152 x 87mm). Late 18th-century green morocco, gilt flat spine with red morocco spine label, gilt turn-ins, decorative endpapers, gilt edges (extremities lightly rubbed). Provenance: Viollet le Duc (booklabel).
A VERY FINE COPY, IN LATE 18TH CENTURY MOROCCO GILT, OF TWO EXTREMELY RARE LIBERTINE BOOKS IN FIRST EDITIONS.
Venus la populaire was written in English by a Dutch immigrant and published in 1724 as A Modest Defence of Public Stews. Born in Dordrecht, Bernard Mandeville expounds a provocative plan for the establishment of public houses of prostitution. This first edition of the French translation is known by only three copies: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, U.S. National Library of Medicine and the copy from the Gérard Nordmann library of erotica (Christie's Paris, 27 April 2006, 248: 'On the title-page it is stated that this is a translation from English, but it is perhaps more likely an original French text'). It was clandestinely published on the Continent, maybe in Holland, or France, under the false London address of A. Moore.
The Histoire de la Tourière des Carmélites, also clandestinely published, is even rarer. This scandalous work by Anne Gabriel Meusnier de Querlon, the former manuscript curator in the King's Library (1727-1735), was not meant to be published by its author (the question of its attribution, disputed for some time, is now established). The novel is a real tour de force of libertine literature: though Meusnier never uses any obscene or crude words, the situations, nevertheless, fulfill this role. 'L'intérêt de La Tourière des Carmélites repose essentiellement sur la grivoiserie des situations qui s'enchaînent à la diable, en une ronde perverse' (Romanciers libertins du XVIIIe siècle, p. 1180).
Such books were rarely bound with as much refinement. This copy bears the book plate of Viollet le Duc, the renowned collector and bibliographer of French poetry, but it did not appear in his catalogues.
First work: ESTC N504776. Second work: Soultrait 18th century 44; Dutel A-540 calling for a frontispiece as described in The Private Case; the only copies located in public institutions are UCLA and British library; no copy can be traced in French public libraries.