Paris, Alphonse Lemerre, 1869.
16mo [153 x 90 mm] of (2) ll., 54 pp., (1) l. Bound in full pink glazed calf, triple gilt fillet on the covers, spine ribbed and finely decorated with gilt patterns and green morocco inlaid flowers, gilt inner borders, gilt over untrimmed edges, printed covers bound in. Binding signed by M. Godillot. Case.
First edition of Verlaine’s master-piece, extremely rare and sought-after, of which only 360 copies were printed. Carteret, II, 418; Clouzot, p. 266; Vicaire, VII, c. 990.
Verlaine bore alone the printing cost of this second work.
The literary critics saw in Les Fêtes galantes the work of a dilettante almost “decadent”, passionate about pure art, exquisite sensations and precious refinements. “Inspired by the painters of the Fêtes galantes [courtship parties] of the 18th century, and by Watteau in particular, Verlaine reveals in his musical adaptations the subtlety of his art and the deep tendencies of his disposition.”
Some of the poems of the collection had already been published in l’Artiste and La gazette rimée.
The collection aroused little response from the public but enthusiast praises from cotemporary authors. Théodore de Banville saw “the small book of a magician” (Le National, April 19th 1869). Victor Hugo wrote to Verlaine, on April 16th, 1869: “You are one of the first ones, one of the most powerful, one of the most charming, in this new sacred legion of poets that I salute and love, me, the old thinker of loneliness.”
A very pure untrimmed copy, of Verlaine’s masterpiece, one of the leading works of the 19th century literature.