Paris, Denis Thierry et Claude Barbin, 1682.
12mo [160 x 87 mm] of (2) ll., 242 pp. and (1) bl. l. Bound in full contemporary brown mottled calf, spine ribbed and decorated with gilt fleurons, mottled edges. Contemporary binding.
First edition of this compilation containing 5 plays by La Fontaine published for the very first time. Rochambeau, Bibliographie des œuvres de La Fontaine, n°12; Tchemerzine, III, 887; Graesse, Trésor de livres rares, IV, p. 76; Catalogue du baron Ruble, n°561; Picot, Catalogue Rothschild, n°2612; Rahir, La Bibliothèque de l’amateur, p. 489; Le Petit, Bibliographie des principales Editions originales, p. 245 ; Brunet, III, 761.
This volume includes, besides the Poème du quinquina, the two tales of La Matrone d’Ephèse and of Belphégor, and the two operas of Galatée and Daphné that are all published here for the first time.
This Poem celebrates Colbert’s recovery thanks to cinchona, a remedy from Latin America and very fashionable at the time, a short-lived recovery, Colbert died the following year, and La Fontaine obtained his seat at the Academy. Louis XIV had bought the secret of this powder for 48,000 pounds to an English chemist named Talbot who he promoted to the rank of Knight. The name of the medicine was then published in 1682 on the King’s will, who ordered the medical profession to look further into it. “Here ‘Belphégor’ starts with a dedication written in verse, of approximately two pages, ‘à Mademoiselle de Chammelay’, which plays is not found in the fifth volume (of 1694) of the Fables, in which Belphégor and also la Matrone d’Ephèse reappear […] La Fontaine wrote this poem on the duchesse de Bouillon’s request, who, filled with enthusiasm by the antifebrile virtues of the recently discovered famous cortex, requested him to celebrate them […] We notice at the end a sort of apologue that would have deserved to be placed among La Fontaine’s Fables, where it could be entitled ‘Jupiter et les deux tonneaux’, like Mr. Walckenaër says.” (Le Petit)
Second issue copy including the 3 cancels indicated by Rochambeau on pp. 22, 26 and 164, similar to the 2 copies of the Bibliothèque nationale.
A fine and very pure copy, particularly wide-margined (height: 160 mm), preserved in its contemporary unrestored binding.