First edition of The Old Maid and second edition of La Grande Bretèche.
It is one of the very rare copies on colored paper, this one here on pink paper.
“Only a few copies of these volumes of the ‘Scènes de la vie de Province’ (‘Scenes from provincial life’) have been printed out on colored paper, which we can find separately and are very sought-after.” Clouzot. Guide du bibliophile.
The Old Maid: “ʽThe Old Maid’ is a novel with a remarkable psychological analysis: Miss Cormon’s character is one of the liveliest types of ‘The Human Comedy’; here, Balzac, doesn’t simplify, the analysis is subtle and profound. But ‘The Old Maid’ is also one of the most relevant portraits of the provincial life: the parties in town, the thousand intrigues, the political and financial interests, the debarments of the classes with each other, all of this is depicted with a surprising sense of reality and a great accuracy.” (Dictionnaire des Œuvres, VI, 668). In 1816, in Alençon, an old maid from a bourgeois good family, Rose Cormon, hopes the return of peace and of the Bourbons will finally bring her a husband. From this funny subject, Balzac makes a political tale, thanks to the rivalry between two suitors from opposite parties.
La Grande Bretèche: La Grande Bretèche is from the early days of the real Balzac, the one who starts with Le Dernier Chouan and the La Physiologie du mariage. La Grande Bretèche tells the story of Madame de Merret caught in the act by her husband with another man: he starts walling up alive his wife’s lover into the cabinet where he hid. “In this short narrative, Balzac wants to give striking example of drama and jealousy. The progressive discovery of the mystery is very cleverly brought and the sudden turns of events follow each other, trapping little by little this culprit and victim woman into the atrocious consequences of her fake pledge”. (Dictionnaire des Œuvres, III, 278).
This first edition, printed on colored paper, is rare, and even rarer preserved in its contemporary wrappers.
Another copy of this edition, on daffodil yellow colored paper but, unfortunately, bound towards 1900 by Champs, and consequently washed, was sold on June 29th, 2001, 12 years ago, for 26,000 €.