Paris, Ambroise Dupont, 1839.
2 parts in 2 volumes 8vo [218 x 134 mm] of : I/ (2) ll. for the half-title and the title, 402 pp., little stain in the margin of p. 379; II/ (2) ll. for the half-title and the title, 445 pp.
Half fawned calf with little corners in green vellum, flat spines decorated with gilt and black filets, black lettering pieces, untrimmed. Case. Contemporary binding.
First edition printed on strong vellum, of one of the most sought-after novels from the 19th century.
Carteret, Le Trésor du bibliophile romantique, 358 ; Vicaire, Manuel de l’amateur de livres du XIXe siècle, 458 ; Picot, Catalogue du baron Rothschild, 1584.
“Very rare and extremely sought-after. Usually very simply contemporary bound. Often spotted.” (Clouzot, 257).
Balzac published in the Revue parisienne of September 25, 1840 an eulogistic article on Stendhal and his book: ‘Mr. Beyle has written a book where the sublime breaks out from chapter to chapter. He has produced, at the age when men seldom find grandiose subjects and after having written some twenty extremely spiritual volumes, a work which can only be appreciated by souls and by truly superior people. Finally, he wrote the Modern Prince, the novel that Machiavelli would write, if he lived banished from Italy in the nineteenth century’.
Stendhal dreamed of drawing a novel from the life of Alexander Farnese (1468-1549); he was also working on a story of the Battle of Waterloo.
His work takes shape on September 3, 1838 when he decides to transport in the 19th century the events revealed to him by the Italian chronicle, so his hero will be in Waterloo and Stendhal can indulge in a satire of absolutism by painting a small Italian court around 1820.
The novel is written in 7 weeks in November and December 1838.
“In this ‘Chartreuse de Parme’ Stendhal excels at translating all his ideal of art and life, the now distant illusion of glamour and the Napoleonic glory and epic, the passion for adventure, the very profound love for contemporary Italy and for Italy so admired of the Renaissance but especially love of love.
The refined psychologic analyses, the obstinate and precise rigor of the style, the philosophical-moral considerations, everything is transfigured in a rare happiness of a lyrical vision which reaches in the best pages to the pure rhythmic of a song.”
It takes place in the present French literature as one of the leading books of the 19th century literature and as the extreme outcome of the 18th century so refined psychology.
Bibliographers are unanimous to underline the great rarity of this first edition in beautiful condition.
One of the most beautiful copies recorded, very wide margined (hauteur : 218 mm), bound in a very elegant contemporary binding in half fawn calf.
We have to go back to September 1986, 32 years ago, to find a copy as elegant, but with smaller margins (hauteur 207 mm against 2018 mm here). Reproduced in the catalogue of the Librairie François 1st of 1986 under the number 155, it was sold for 620 000 FF (- 95 000 € 35 years ago).