12mo [176 x 110 mm] of (2) ll. viii pp., 244 pp. A few rare foxing at the beginning of the volume. Contemporary fawn half-sheepskin, ribbed spine decorated with gilt fleurons, black morocco lettering-piece, initials CF gilt-stamped at the foot of the spine, mottled edges. Contemporary binding.
Second edition “quite sought-after due to the great rarity of the first edition”. (Clouzot, p.257).
Cordier, Bibliographie stendhalienne, n°71 ; Carteret, II, p.352.
It contains a curious preface by Monselet.
“Stendhal’s (Henri Beyle, 1783-1842) first novel, published in 1827. The action takes place in the high society of the ‘Restauration’ in Paris during the reign of Louis XVIII. Octave de Malivert, a 20-year-old ‘Polytechnique’ graduate gets noticed thanks to his sharp intelligence and the distinction of his character but also by a temperamental personality that sometimes lead him to fits of anger. He only feels a true friendship towards a cousin of his age, Armance de Zohiloff, a beautiful noble but poor young woman, with a courageous and loyal nature who he met through his Aunt Mme de Bonnivet. A cruel ambivalence interrupts this tender friendship: Octave, whose family has been ruined by emigration, receives 2 millions as indemnification from the royal government. Armance, who is secretly in love with him, begins to notice a shift in his behaviour after this unexpected fortune, leading her to despise her cousin’s character. She swears to keep her love secret for fear of seeming like a vulgar profiteer to Octave and the rest of the world. Octave, painfully hurt by this coldness and reluctantly led to successes within the high society will only be able to dissipate this mistake much later on. […] Today the book is judged in many different ways: whereas some contest its artistic value, some passionate stendhalians would want to elevate the work as a masterpiece […] The work is interesting beyond its own qualities for it sets out some of the themes that will later appear in Le Rouge et le Noir and La Chartreuse de Parme”.
(Dictionnaire des Œuvres, I, p. 248-249).
Precious copy of Stendhal’s first novel preserved in its elegant contemporary binding, decorated with the initials CF at the foot of the spine.