Paris, Calmann Lévy, 1886.
8vo [243 x 155 mm] of (2) ll., vi pp. of foreword, (1) l., 110 pp., (1) l., (1) bl.l. Bound in full brown straight-grained morocco, spine ribbed, claret rep doublures decorated with gilt fillets, claret rep endleaves, gilt over untrimmed edges, wrappers preserved. Binding signed by Canape R. D.
First edition of this novel by Ernest Renan, one of only 25 copies printed on Japanese vellum. Vicaire, Manuel de l’amateur, 1032; Bibliothèque de Backer, 2129; Carteret, II, 258.
« L’Abbesse de Jouarre is the only play by Renan about which the question of representation was seriously posed. Therefore, its story has the interest of an experiment. […] It is impossible to avoid the “local colour”; the action is an episode of the French Revolution: you surely have to act with contemporary costumes and recreate around the characters the climate of the Terror. Actually, even if the story invented by Renan is not a true story, it is a probable story. Renan willingly stressed the fact which distinguishes the fourth drama from the three previous ones. “I don’t know, he wrote one day, any account in Revolution’s time which presents the same subject that I tried to set in motion in l’Abesse de Jouarre.” But, “as for the psychological state of the prisons in the time of Terror, and the development followed, in this terrible environment, the love affairs, I haven’t told anything which is not entirely conform to history. Texts are innumerable…” This story is the adventure of Julie Constance de Saint-Florent, abbess from Jouarre, faithless nun but strictly faithful to her vows, story in two epochs. A few days after the Battle of Fleurus, on June 25th 1794, Julie is in prison in the former Collège du Plessis, she comes back from the Revolutionary Tribunal; the execution is for the following morning. The man who loves her and that she loves, the marquis d’Arcy, is in the same prison and will be, tomorrow in the same cart. The abbess’ vows had separated them: the imminent death released them from any duty […]. However, the following morning, the name of Julie Constance de Saint-Florent is not on the list of the prisoners that must die on the scaffold […]. » (H. Gouhier, Renan auteur dramatique, pp. 67-87).
A beautiful wide-margined copy bound in morocco lined with claret rep, with the orange printed wrappers preserved.