Imprimé à Rouen, et se vend à Paris, chez Antoine de Sommaville et Augustin Courbé, 1644.
4to of (4) ll. for the title, the Epistle and the list of actors, 130 pp. and (1) l. of privilege.
Red morocco, triple gilt fillet around the covers, spine ribbed richly decorated, large gilt inner border, gilt edges. Trautz-Bauzonnet.
217 x 160 mm
Very rare first edition of Pierre Corneille’s “menteur “.
Tchemerzine, II, pp. 550 and 552; Le Petit, pp. 161-164; Picot, Bibliographie Cornelienne, 35 and 40.
With this comedy Corneille opened the way to the true comedy of character.
“After borrowing the subject of Le Cid from the Spaniards, Corneille borrowed the subject of his first serious comedy from them. La Verdad Sospechosa, which served as a model for him, was published in 1630 under the name of Lope de Vega, but it was claimed in 1630 by its true author, D. Juan de Alarcon. It is from this play […] that Corneille drew the main features of the Liar; he makes no difficulty in recognizing this, and he adds in the Examen attached to the comedy in 1660, ‘that he would have liked to have given the two most beautiful plays he had made and that this subject was of his invention’. (Picot).
The Menteur was performed in 1643, by the Marais company. It was not long before this play was printed.
“This comedy plays essentially on the confusion between truth and appearances, on the verbal prowess of the hero and on the comic counterpoint brought by the ironic comments of the valet Cliton”.
“In one of his letters to Corneille, Balzac, if he does not testify yet of the success that the new comedy obtained, seems at least to indicate that one spoke about it already in the public: ‘You will be Aristophanes, when it pleases you, says to him, as you are already Sophocles’ (Letter of February 10, 1643) “.
The original 4to editions of Corneille’s plays are rare.
A fine wide-margined copy of this classic of French literature, finely bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet.
Location of copies in France: Chantilly and Rouen libraries. We have not been able to locate any at the B.n.F.