Paris, Ernest Bourdin et Cie, .
Large 8vo with (3) ll., 2 frontispieces, xii pp., vii pp., (1) l. half-title, 344 pp., 18 full-page plates.
Duck-blue straight-grained quarter-morocco, spine decorated with gilt and red mosaic fleuron, untrimmed. Bound by Canape.
246 x 153 mm.
First edition of this charming wood-engraved illustration, featuring a cameo portrait-frontispiece after Edouard Wattier, 2 decorated half-titles printed in gold on vellum paper, 11 lettrines, fleurons and tailpieces after Adrien Féart, 18 out-of-text compositions and 65 vignettes in the text after Tony Johannot.
One of the very few copies on China paper, this one printed on one side only, with the 18 plates on strong China paper.
This beautiful edition is decorated with “18 woodcuts out of text and 90 vignettes in the text, plus two decorated half-titles, wood-engraved and printed in gold for each of the two parts of the work. A few copies were printed on China paper, on one side only, and others on both sides. The frontispiece and the two half-titles were not printed on China paper, and therefore appear on strong white paper in these copies.
One of the finest books of the Romantic period, illustrated by Johannot; this is the only interesting edition of this masterpiece published in the early nineteenth century.” (Carteret, III, 504).
It is a first edition with the title printed in part in white lettering.
As with all copies printed on this paper, the frontispiece and half-titles of both parts are printed on vellum paper.
Manon Lescaut was to occupy a decisive place in the history of the French novel.
“A novel as interesting in its twists and turns as an adventure novel, as moving as a tragedy, as studied in its characters as a novel of analysis, realistic in its accurate depiction of contemporary mores and in its study of a moral problem which, for over a century, was to dominate literature, that of the struggle against pleasure and passion.”
As usual, Prévost uses a genre much in vogue in the 18th century: fictional memoirs. This mode of retrospective narration enabled the author to multiply the number of adventures, each of which revolved around a love story ending in the death of the woman. L’Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut, which is easy to separate from the rest of the Mémoires since it was not lived by the narrator, but reported to him, was immediately so successful that it overshadowed the rest of Prévost’s work.
Ex-libris Henri Lafond.