Paris, chez l’éditeur, 1838
2 parts in two 8vo volumes [187 x 125 mm]: I/ 354 pp., (3) ll.; II/ 337 pp., (1) bl.p., (1) l., (2) ll. from the Figaro, and (4) ll. of commercial advertisement. Contemporary quarter aubergine cloth, flat spines with blind-stamped title, green shelf marks on the foot of the spines. Red and white marbled edges. Contemporary binding.
First edition of one of Balzac’s most famous novels.
Carteret, I, 73; Clouzot, Guide du Bibliophile, 22; Vicaire, I, 210.
This work is part of “Les scènes de la vie parisienne” and was published the same year than “Le Curé de village”, “Le cabinet des antiques” and a part of the “Contes drolatiques”.
The subject of this work comes from the news in brief. Balzac’s model was named Bully and was a perfumer. He had just invented toilet vinegar when his shop was wrecked by the people in 1830.
Balzac adds to this news the story of a speculation deal very specific of this time. He turns César Birotteau into the embodiment of the small trading bourgeoisie of Paris.
Balzac wrote it after being disappointed by his love, the marquise de Castries, and through the failure of his ambitions, he lives a “crisis” metamorphosing him. The Parisian “Lion” seen in the salons of the faubourg Saint-Germain, renounces to the vanities of dandyism, embroidered vests, precious canes…
Bibliographers emphasize the difficulty to find a descent copy.
“It is generally among the most poorly bound of Balzac’s novels.” Clouzot.
A precious very fresh copy, preserved in its original binding, coming from the Comtes de Peren’s collections (with ex-libris).