Amsterdam, et se trouve à Paris, chez Durand Neveu, 1782.
4 parts bound in 2 volumes 12mo [169 x 95 mm] of: I/ 248 pp.; II/ 242 pp.; III/ 231 pp.; IV/ 257 pp. Small tear without loss in the margin of p. 133. Full brown marbled calf, spines ribbed and decorated with gilt fleurons, red and green lettering-pieces, red edges. Contemporary binding.
First edition of the Dangerous Liaisons, state B. Among the twenty editions published in 1782, only the first two, classified as A and B by Max Brun or bearing numbers 1 and 2 according to Ducup de Saint Paul, belong to the first edition. About fifty editions appeared between 1782 and 1815; the original (state A or B) is extremely sought-after.
“It is accepted as proven, that the number above is indeed the second printing of the first edition given by Laclos himself” (Ducup de Saint Paul, Essai sur les deux véritables éditions originales des Liaisons Dangereuses, Paris, 1928, p.21).
“Libertine Bible for some, the book especially asserts itself as a masterpiece of the analysis novel, as one the most abstract and most intelligent novels.” En Français dans le texte, n°174.
When they were published in 1782, the Dangerous Liaisons experienced an extraordinary impact. The study of the critics of the time tells us that its success was mainly a scandal success.
The 20th century has rediscovered Laclos’ masterpiece: Gide, Proust, Malraux, Giraudoux, Maurois, Butor, many other novelists and critics of choice took an interest in it. Recently the novel has benefited from the renewal of interest experienced by the studies on the 18th century. These last few years especially interest has increased, editions of the text multiply. The new edition of Laclos’ complete Works by Laurent Versini (1979) is a model of erudition and is now used as a reference. There are countless studies and articles related to the Dangerous Liaisons. In his bibliography dated 1982, Colette Verger Michael mentions six hundred and twenty titles from 1782 to 1979; and PMLA’s bibliography lists one hundred and thirty-five between 1979 and 1991. The novel was translated into German as early as 1783 (Heinrich Mann gave a beautiful translation in 1905); into English in 1784, then into Italian, Japanese, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Serbo-Croatian, etc. The interest in the novel can be explained by the relevance of many of its themes: the relationship between body and mind, between intelligence and sensitivity, will and chance; the problems of freedom and fate, the inability of man to direct his destiny.
“We found no trace of a copy of one of the twenty editions of 1782 bound in contemporary morocco”, says Jacques Guerin in his catalogue of March 29, 1984 (n°38) about his copy of the edition L (11th edition) incomplete of the half-title in part IV, sold for almost 10 000 € 35 years ago.
The same Jacques Guerin was selling for 240 000 FF (≈ 40 000 €) a copy of the third state said State C described as such: “First edition (State C) of Laclos’ masterpiece” (Ref. Bibliothèque Jacques Guerin. Livres exceptionnels, Paris November 29, 1988, n°12. Expert Dominique Courvoisier) bound in green morocco, and 450 000 FF (≈ 70 000 €) a copy of the first edition bound in calf with Henriette de Bethizy de Meziere’s arms on June 7, 1990, n°30, 29 years ago.
Precious copy of the rare first edition of this major text in full contemporary binding.
From J.L. Beraud’s library with ex-libris with arms.