Paris, Abel l’Angelier, 1598.
8vo [185 x 120 mm], of 4 preliminary ll. and 588 ll. Red morocco, gilt fillets on the covers with large corner fleurons in the style of Duseuil, spine ribbed and richly decorated with small gilt tools, inner gilt border, remains of ancient clasps, gilt edges. XVIIth century binding.
Very precious and extremely rare second posthumous edition of the Essays. It presents the second version of the 1595 text given by Miss de Gournay. Very interesting, it is of the utmost rarity. Tchemerzine, IV, 877; Sayce. Maskell. Montaigne’s Essais, pp. 36-38.
Montaigne died on the 13th of September 1592 at the age of 59. The edition of the Essays given in 1595 by Miss de Gournay, Montaigne’s “adoptive daughter”, with the help of Montaigne’s widow and Pierre de Brach, was established from a copy of the Essays, annotated by Montaigne and from the manuscripts found in the author’s office.
The material realization of this edition demanded an extreme attention from Montaigne’s family and friends as well as Abel l’Angelier and Marie de Gournay who brought manuscript corrections as it occurred, that thus create as many variants in copies of this same edition.
This 1598 edition is very rare and important because it includes a foreword in which Miss de Gournay retracts the one of 1595 “ that the blindness of his age and a violent soul fever let formerly escape from his hands” and a foreword by Montaigne “corrected with the author’s very last words”.
It presents the text of the Essays considered as definitive by Marie de Gournay, because corrected in 1596 during her stay in Montaigne’s castle, from the autograph copy, different from the Bordeaux’s copy.
“The first purpose of the Essays was to annotate the readings of the ancients and to draw still impersonal comments and connections. Gradually, Montaigne intends on writing a book of a universal range because “every man … carries within himself the entire form of the human condition.” III.v.2. Thus, the foreword gives a hint of the final design: “This is here a book of good faith, reader… it’s me I’m painting.”
Very attractive copy of this “interesting and of the utmost rarity” edition (Tchemerzine), Very rare in very elegant ancient morocco.