3 volumes 8 vo [197 x 125 mm] of : I/ (1) l., 404 pp., 2 portraits out-of-text, one of which on double-page, have been added at the beginning of the volume; II/ (2) ll., 404 pp. wrongly numbeed 504 ; III/ 416 pp. Bound in green straight-grained half-morocco, flat spines decorated with a romantic gilt motif, gilt fillets on the covers. V. Champs.
“Extremely rare” first edition (Clouzot, Guide du Bibliophile Français, p. 142) containing among others the first edition of Bug-Jargal.
In 1819, on the advice of Chateaubriand, who had guessed the literary talent of the three Hugo brothers and who was interested in their future, Abel founded, together with Eugène and Victor, Le Conservateur littéraire. This review was to be, in his mind, the indispensable complement of the Conservateur politique, to which the collaboration of Chateaubriand had given so much vogue and brilliance. The three brothers who lived in a touching harmony, and who had no other rivalry than the love of letters, were more or less the only editors of the Conservateur littéraire, in which each one of them appeared continuously under different pseudonyms and under different initials. Each of them was in turn a critic, a poet, a novelist, a moralist, in order to vary the writing of the weekly deliveries, which always produced a lot of effect in the small world of the writers, without bringing the subscribers with the help of whom the collection could have continued. Finally, after eighteen months of perseverance and effort, it was necessary to give up a publication that did not pay for itself.
“Only thirty issues of this Revue were published, forming three volumes 8vo, Paris, A. Boucher, 1819-20. We read in a note of the ‘Catalogue de livres provenant de la bibliothèque de M. de N***’ (1856) ‘Victor Hugo wrote under his own name and under various pseudonymous initials most of the articles of literary criticism that he did not collect in his Mélanges. We also find the first edition of Bug-Jargal and some verse pieces that are still missing from his complete works. Victor Hugo signs sometimes V., sometimes H., sometimes V. d’Auverney, sometimes M., and sometimes he does not sign at all. His brother Abel signs A.; his brother Eugène, E. Among the editors, one recognizes Theodore Pavie, Ader, J. Sainte-Marie, etc. It is necessary to point out the famous epistle Les Vous et les Tu, signed Aristide; the Letter of Publicola Petissot, the translations of Virgil, Lucain and Ossian, which one would like to see added to the works of Victor Hugo’.
This review, says Charles Asselineau, in his Bibliographie romantique, 2nd edition, p. 265, “was founded by Eugène and Victor Hugo and written, for the most part, by the latter. Alfred de Vigny collaborated to this review.“
This first edition is extremely rare.
Vicaire, in the Manuel de l’Amateur printed in 1895, only cites one copy, incomplete, which was nevertheless sold for 810 F Gold at the Vente Noilly of 1886, a considerable bid for the time.
“Paul Lacroix had bought his copy of the Conservateur littéraire for 80 fr. at a sale in the Silvestre room; this copy, with a new binding in myrtle morocco, gilt edges (Marius Michel) was sold for 810 fr. at Noilly.” The table in the first volume was missing.
Carteret, in Le Trésor du bibliophile printed in 1924, only cites two complete copies including ours ” Claretie, 1918 , 3 vol. 8vo, half-morocco by Champs sold 3 055 F in 1918 ” and a second copy, dedicated to Juliette Drouet, sold 46 000 F 50 years ago, in 1972, a considerable bid ; close to the price obtained this same year 1972 by the superb copy of the Œuvres of Louise Labé printed in Lyons in 1556 covered with a doubled binding with the escutcheons for Charles Nodier (references : Bibliothèque R. Esmerian. First part, June 6, 1972. Paris, n°82). Such a copy would be sold today for 300 000 €.
Superb copy cited by Carteret in which two portraits of Victor Hugo have been bound in at the beginning: one in the black manner by Célestin Nanteuil, dated 1832, the other lithographed on double page by V. Ratier, from the libraries of A. Claudin, famous bibliographer, enriched with two autograph notes addressed to him in June 1900 by the novelist Paul Meurice (1818-1905), close friend of Victor Hugo. Paul Meurice borrowed these volumes from Claudin – his own copy being on loan for the “centennial exhibition of the book” – and then complimented him on his “precious copy… with its binding in the taste of the time and the two portraits… it is perfect”; Jules Claretie (sold for 3 055 F in 1918) and P. Villeboeuf, an eminent bibliophile of the last century, with ex libris.