MAIRET, Jean L’Illustre corsaire. Tragicomédie.


According to Voltaire : « Mairet opened the way in which Rotrou entered, and that’s only by imitating them that Corneille learnt how to surpass them”. First edition of this tragi-comedy by Mairet, represented during the publication of the Cid, a very pure copy preserved in its contemporary limp vellum. Paris, 1640.

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Paris, Augustin Courbé, 1640.

4to [216 x 160 mm] of (6) ll., 131 pp., (1) bl.p. Old handwritten ex libris in ink repeated on the title and on p. 1. Bound in full contemporary limp vellum, handwritten title in ink on the front cover, flat spine with the handwritten title. Contemporary binding.

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First edition of this tragic-comedy by Mairet performed for the first time in 1637. Tchemerzine, IV, 330 ; Brunet, III, 1324 ; Bibliothèque dramatique de Pont de Vesle, 765 ; Catalogue Félix Solar, 1674.

Lépante, the Prince of Sicily, sentenced by his mistress Ismenie to die by throwing himself into the sea because he kissed her ten years earlier, ends up as a sailor on a ship attacked by pirates. Convinced that his mistress is dead he decides to become a pirate himself.

Mairet (1604-1686), a successful playwright, was born in Besancon on the 4th of January 1604.

“In 1616, he entered the college of the Grassins in Paris, where he got noticed by his poetic genius. When he left this college he could have his tragedy entitled ‘Chriséide et Arimant’ represented (1620); inspired by the ‘Astrée’ of Urfé, that play achieved great success. The following year in 1621 he gave ‘Sylvie’ that was also very successful. Four years later, he was fully admired by the public when he wrote his pastoral tragedy: ‘La Silvanire ou la morte vive’ (1625).” (Dictionnaire des auteurs, III, 239).

The author was so successful that he was granted a pension by Richelieu, and the honour to be one of the authors that the cardinal made work under his sway.”

Jean Mairet took an active part in the “Quarrel of Le Cid” in which he was a desperate opponent of Corneille. He is the author of several pamphlets against Corneille, who answered to him few times (Avertissement au Besancennois Mairet in 1637). Richelieu had to intervene personally to stop that quarrel.

Besides the epistle addressed to the marquess of Combalet, the duchess of Aiguillon (1604-1675), Mairet composed for her a sonnet that he put at the beginning of the volume.

A very pure copy preserved in its contemporary limp vellum.

No copy of this very rare first edition has appeared at auction in the last thirty years.

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