Paris, Claude Barbin, 1689.
4 parts in 2 volumes 12mo [154 x 84 mm] of : I/ (2)ll ., 211 pp. ; II/ (1) l., 214 pp., (1) bl.l. ; III/ (1) p., 216 pp. ; IV/ 211 pp. numbered 213, (5) pp. of privilege. Tiny marginal tear without loss p. 79 of part I.
Marbled calf, decorated ribbed spines, red morrocco labels, marbled edges. Contemporary binding.
True second edition of one of the most important works of French 17th century literature.
Tchemerzine, III, 840-841.
Published on March 17th 1678, the book was very successful: Mme de Sévigné proclaimed her enthusiasm; Fontenelle read and read again the book four times; Boursault made a tragedy in five acts of it; Valincour inflamed public opinion with his « Letters… » to which the abbé de Charnes answered.
If Mme de la Fayette denies her taking part in the writing of this work in a letter dated April 1678, one cannot doubt anymore that she wrote the book, influenced by her closed friend La Rochefoucault and advised by Segrais.
This true second edition printed in large characters takes up the first edition, the fleuron on the title of part III excepted. It is here composed of a bunch of flowers that can also be seen on the title of part IV.
Representative of the new literary school, this book is the first that suits our modern idea of a novel; the author’s great credit is that she knew how to combine in this psychological novel, the novelistic subtlety of precious mind and the sober and eternal truth of classicism.
The work revives famous historical characters: Henri II, Catherine de Medici, Diane de Poitiers, Marie Stuart, real plots of the end of Henri II’s reign and of the beginning of François II’s reign. By an unconscious transposition, the atmosphere of Louis XIV’s court is often evoked.
Precious, historical and psychological novel, La Princesse de Clèves remains a living work by drawing sincere emotions and devastation of passion.
An attractive copy, very wide-margined (height: 154 mm), preserved in its contemporary binding decorated with curious gilt sun tools.