Paris, chez Duchêne, 1802.
4 parts in 4 12mo volumes [182 x 106 mm] of: I/ (4) ll., pp. 6 to 356, 1 full page engraving out of pagination, small wormtrack on 8 ll. not affecting the text; II/ 360 pp., 1 full page engraving out of pagination; III/ 360 pp., 1 full page engraving out of pagination, small water stain in the upper corner of around 10 ll.; IV/ 335 pp., (37), 1 full page engraving out of pagination. Preserved in their original blue wrappers, rosy paper lettering piece on the flat spines, untrimmed. Contemporary binding.
Extremely rare first edition of Restif’s subversive novel, seized by the police when published. Rives-Child 342-343; Cohen 886, Jacob, Bibliographie de Restif de la Bretonne, 425-429.
The work was started by Restif in 1786 but was achieved only ten years later, in 1796. In Mes ouvrages Restif himself relates the genesis of the Posthumes. “The work ends on an insight on Revolution, all the more surprising that these Letters have been, with proofs, composed three years before, in 1786, 1787, 1788”.
It was the countess of Beauharnais who gave Restif the idea of the novel. “I was going, every Friday, rue de Tournon to have dinner at the Countess of Beauharnais, who gave me the idea. Every night I was composing a letter; so that every Friday, I would bring my six letters with me and would read them after supper. They used to make quite an impression!”
This science-fiction novel offers among other the “future story of the duke of Multipliandre”. This character has discovered the secret of immortality and will proceed in a future that goes over several thousands of years to the eugenic elaboration of a perfect mankind. The provocative work was seized by the police as soon as published in 1802 and had to be revised. “Restif reveals many things that he should have kept shut about someone close to the government at the time and still close to the government today”. Cubières. Palmezeaux.
This first edition is illustrated with 4 engravings that motivated the seizure of the book and that are almost never seen in the copies put back for sale a long time after the seizure. (Jacob 427). –Hortense, marquise de Chazu, arrivant empressée à la maison de campagne du président de Fontlhète, qui est au désespoir et qui, en entendant frapper, se hâte d’avaler un breuvage léthifère, – Fontlhète ailé, qui a enlevé aux Tuileries la jeune épouse de Multipliandre, la lui rendant au pied de la statue d’Avril et Paetus, -La grande dame entrant dans le riche appartement de Multipliandre, qui caresse Julie, sa femme, accompagnée de ses deux acolytes, Séraphine et Rosaliete, -Des hommes et femmes ailés se jouant dans les airs.
According to Bordes de Fortages, most of the copies don’t include the pages 117 to 123 of the first volume, present in this copy.
Bibliographers are unanimous to emphasize the rarity of the work: “As it has never been reprinted, a copy is of the rarest occurrence and indeed ‘The Posthumes’ will soon be classed among works which are ‘introuvables’”.
A precious and rare copy, exceptionally wide-margined since preserved as published, in wrappers and untrimmed, of this rare subversive novel by Restif.