Paris, Madame Charles-Béchet, 1834.
One 8vo volume [223 x 138 mm], blue quarter-morocco, flat spine. Untrimmed, original wrappers bound in.
First edition of one of Balzac’s greatest novels and one of the major works of European literature.
It forms Volume V of the 12 volumes of the Etudes de mœurs au XIXe siècle.
“This series of 12 volumes of the ‘Etudes de mœurs’ is very rare today; it is sometimes found in wrappers, it is extremely rare in beautiful contemporary bindings. It is the original edition of Eugenie Grandet that makes it valuable. It is for this reason that one collects this volume separately which has, on its title: Volume I (of the Scenes de la vie de province) and Volume V (of the Etudes de mœurs).
Eugenie Grandet is Balzac’s first great book, some say his masterpiece.
The work shines with an incomparable artistic force: the character of Eugenie and that of her father are rightly considered among the happiest of all the portraits owed to the writing of this genius. The style here is mobile, penetrating and much less meticulous and heavy than in many other works of the same novelist: no long moral digressions which, if they give some of his works a real interest, often spoil the purity of lines.
In this novel, Balzac describes the fate of a young woman in the nineteenth century confronted with the greed of a father and provincial sadness. In the epilogue (p. 382), which later disappears, Balzac writes: ‘each department has its Grandet’ and in the introduction: ‘If everything happens in Paris, everything passes in the provinces: there, no depth, no sally; but there, dramas in silence; there, mysteries skillfully concealed; there, outcomes in a single word; there, enormous values lent by calculation and analysis to the most indifferent actions. One lives there in public” (p. 21).
A magnificent copy, exceedingly rare untrimmed, with the original wrappers bound in, exceptionally wide-margined (height: 223 mm), enriched with the portrait of Balzac.