Paris, de l’Imprimerie de P. Didot l’aîné, 1806.
Large folio [464 x 303 mm] of (2) ff., 1 portrait, xcii pp., 194 pp., (3) ll. of Liste des souscripteurs,6 colored plates out of pagination, Quarter red straight grained morocco, elegantly decorated flat spine, olive green morocco lettering piece, gilt edges. Case. Slightly later binding.
The most beautiful ancient edition of Paul et Virginie, decorated “with a portrait by Laffite, engraved by Ribault and 6 figures by Gérard, Girodet, Isabey, Laffite, Moreau et Prudhon,engraved by Bourgeois de la Richardière, Bovinet, Mecou, Pillement fils, Prot et Roger.
The figures are very beautiful. The touching composition of Moreau and especially his dramatic figure of Virginie’s drowning by Prudhon make this volume very interesting.” (Cohen, 931).
Graesse, Trésor de Livres rares, VI, 226
Paul et Virginie marks a phase in the French novel. Bernardin de Saint-Pierre cristalized in his work and in this novel, all the travel literature so abundant in those times, but didn’t offered big literary merit.
He carried the thesis of Rousseay, who, he, only knew Switzerland and France, in the tropics. Even better, he succeeded in showing, – what Rousseau couldn’t do,- living men in state of nature, at least as one could imagine at the end of the 18th century.
As a novelist and painter, he is the predecessor of Chateaubriand. For example, peaking of the aurora borealis, he writes: “The brilliancy of its fires, joined to the trembling light of the moon, renders the nights of a singular magnificence; the landscape is lit up by a dark and soft day.”
And by this, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre is at the origin of a vast current that goes from Chateaubriand to Pierre Loti.”
The present work was printed in 6 different issues : ordinary, 75 fr.; avant la lettre, 120 fr.; with painted figures, 240 fr.; folio, 120 fr., folio avant la lettre, 168 fr., folio with colored figures, 288 fr.
The present copy belongs to the most luxurious and most rare issue, folio with colored figures.
“Few copies off the press were issued in folio” (Rahir, Bibliothèque de l’amateur, 628).
Precious copy belonging to the very luxurious issue, in large folio with colored figures which is very rare, preserved in its elegant fine decorated quarter red morocco binding.