BOURSAULT, Edme. Le Mort vivant, comédie. Dédiée à Monseigneur le Duc de Guise.
A Paris, chez N. Pépingué, 1662.
Very rare first edition of one of Boursault’s very first comedies, dedicated to the Duke of Guise.
Cioranescu, I, 15912.
“The theater of Boursault, enemy of Molière and Boileau, gives a whole mass of precious details for the literary history of this time especially in the ‘Portrait du peintre’, the ‘Satire des satires’, etc.” (Paul Lacroix, Catal. De Soleinne). » (De Backer n°955).
“Boursault (1638-1701) is one of those dramatic authors who, in the 17th century, were fashionable instead of being famous, and of whom some productions are still esteemed today. When he came in Paris in 1651, we only knew the patois of his province: a few years later, he had become a writer remarkable enough so that he was charged to compose a work dedicated to the education of the Dauphin. Boursault was liked by the virtue of the qualities of the heart as well as of the spirit; his frank and open character helped him get a lot of friends. He was linked with most of the people of letters who were contemporary, except for Molière”.
Very young author, he assumed with Donneau de Visé the perilous task to support the controversy against Molière.
Le Mort vivantone of the very first comedies by Boursault is indeed published and played in 1662, the same year than Molière’s Ecole des femmes successfully played on December 26th, 1662.
Molière has his natural enemies, the actors of the Hôtel de Bourgogne to whom his success is harmful. He also replies to the attacks made by people of the world and poets in La Critique de l’Ecole des femmes played on June 1st, 1663 in which he stages this sly jealous person, the poet Lysidas.
The comedians of the Hôtel de Bourgogne taking Boursault’s side will play La contre-critique de l’Ecole des femmes on October 19th, 1663.
As a spiritual polemist, Boursault knew how to defend himself when he was attacked. Thinking he recognized himself in the character of Lysidas, he wrote Le Portrait du peintre that caused him to receive a revengeful answer from Molière in L’Impromptu de Versailles but also by Boileau who named him in several of his satires.
Their quarrel stopped after a loan of two hundred Louis he gave to Boileau who was moneyless at the springs of Bourbonne; this latter then withdrew from his satires the name of Boursault and put the one of Pradon instead.
Comedy-farce in 3 acts, Le Mort vivant already revealed the future tone of Boursault’s episodic comedies, with a lively spirit, a frank comic and a natural style.
This first edition of one of Boursault’s very first comedies is remarkably rare.
No copy has been listed on the international public market since the beginning of the records 35 years ago.
Very seducing copy, fresh and extremely wide-margined, preserved in an elegant green Jansenist morocco binding by Trautz-Bauzonnet.
It comes from Robert Hoe’s collection with ex-libris.