Paris, chez Guillaume Desprez, 1670.
12mo [149 x 82 mm] of (41) ll. for the title, the foreword, the approbations, the table, the extract of the privilege and the notice to the reader, 365 pp., (10) ll. for the table. A few handwritten notes in pencil in the margin of the text. Granite-like brown calf, spine ribbed and decorated with gilt fleurons, mottled edges. Contemporary binding.
First edition of Pascal’s major work. Tchemerzine, V, p. 70.
“Pascal remains one of a kind, not so much because he is ‘one of the greatest intelligence there is’ (Paul Valéry), by because of his passion, of his impulse, of this aggressiveness that gets the reader’s soul, through these discoveries, these surprises he brings on him, that astonish and make him discover, in himself, not only depths, but the means or rather the only mean to cross them”.
According to Etienne Périer’s testimony, Pascal’s nephew, it would be in 1652 that Pascal would have first thought about his Apologie de la religion chrétienne. In 1658, at the request of the Sirs of Port-Royal, he gave a lecture presenting the plan of his work but several years of illness did not let him achieve his goal and these are scattered notes that his family had to gather after his passing.
“As it was known that Pascal’s goal was to write on religion, people took great care, after his death, of collecting all the notes he had made on that matter. They were all found together in various bundles, but with no order, no suite… And all of this was so imperfect, and so poorly written, that we had a terrible time deciphering them” says Etienne Périer in his foreword. Pascal’s friends, Roannez, Brienne and Etienne Périer have finally stuck to the edition of the fragments, disposing them in a certain order, contented themselves with ‘clearing and improving’ them. The result of this work was the 1670 edition.
Copies in contemporary morocco are rare (only one copy went on the public market these past years, sold 230,000 € by Sotheby’s in 2001); copies in contemporary calf are now sought-after and their price varies depending on their condition between 20,000 € and 60,000 $ (Christie’s Paris, contemporary calf, 44,600 € on June, 20th 2002, lot 125).
A precious copy preserved in its contemporary granite-like brown calf binding.
Provenance: emblazoned ex-libris on the endpaper (name scratched), from Jean Siegler’s collection (ex-libris on the endpaper).