Paris, Philippe le Noir, s.d. [c. 1526].
Small gothic 4to [187 x 132 ] of (4) prel. ll. title included, (145) ll., 1 mm. from the bl. upper margin of the title was formerly strengthened without loss. Red morocco, sumptuous fanfare decor on the covers, gilt arms stamped in the center, ribbed spine richly decorated, inner gilt border, gilt edges. Binding signed by Belz-Niedrée.
Precious gothic edition of the utmost rarity, the first Parisian edition, of this allegoric poem composed by jean Bouchet in honor of Artus Gouffier, Lord of Boissy, duke of Roannais, deceased in Montpellier in May 1519.
Brunet, I, 1157 ; Tchemerzine, II, 34-35.
Dedicated to Madame Marguerite, the sister of Francis I of France, the book opens on a panegyric by Gouffier, the former governor of Francis I of France, grand master of France in 1514 and influential patron of the poet.
Under the guise of a very sophisticated allegory Jean Bouchet gives then a striking picture of this strange fortune labyrinth in which the powerful, the rich and the pleasure-seeker feast gaily before being thrown into harsh torments.
« Aultres estoient plains de ieux et de esbas
De passetemps et de amoureux combas
Aultres estoient plains de tables couvertes
Ou lon veoit viandes descouvertes
Et plusieurs mectz garnis de vins exquis
Autant plus qu’il n’est es gens requis…
Tous lesquels gens au son des instruments
Prevoyent soulas et grans esbatemens…
Rians chantans & prenans leurs plaisirs
Et iouissans de leurs humains désirs... »
In a subtle psychological and social analysis, the Poitiers state prosecutor invites the reader to a colorful picture of the different states of the society of that time. Going back to the origin of the world, Bouchet gives then an overview of the revolution of the empires and finishes with the “Dialogue des doctrines véritables”, discusses in 26 rondeau, on the utility and the excess of sciences.
The real beatitude will only be reached with the help of three noble ladies: Faith, Hope and Charity.
Jean Bouchet (1476-1557), poet and historian from Poitiers, was the last great rhetoric master. His Labyrinthe de fortune appeared in Poitiers (1522, then 1524) before being printed in Paris by Philippe le Noir in 1526 (the present edition).
Extremely rare edition wronglydescribed by Tchemerzine yet quoting the present copy (for the matter, it is the only one he quotes) but he wrongly indicates a figure at the back of the last l.
The title, printed in red and black, is decorated with a great initial and with Philippe le Noir’s mark.
A very beautiful copy, the only one quoted by Tchemerzine, bound by Belz in a sumptuous fanfare binding decorated with the arms of the baron Seillière (1890, n°444).
From the libraries of baron Seillière (arms in the center of the covers) and Marcel Bénard with ex-libris (cat. 1925, n°56). Moreover, the present copy was displayed at the exhibition Dix siècles de Livres français (Lucerne, 1949, n°90) and it is the only one quoted by Tchemerzine.