Paris, Delaunay et Pelicier, 1817.
8vo, 366 pp. with (1) l. of errata. Full tan calf, black fillet around the covers, flat spine with olive morocco lettering-piece, marbled edges, hinges slightly rubbed. Contemporary binding signed by Doll.
201 x 126 mm.
Very rare first edition.
It is in this work that the pseudonym “M. de Stendhal” appears for the first time, printed on the title page.
Vicaire, I, 452; Fléty, p. 60.
“Rare“. Clouzot, 256.
“Rare and important work“. Carteret, II, 346.
The fruit of the author’s various travels in Italy, this book was the first to be signed with Stendhal’s name, a pseudonym to which he was to lend such splendor (Martineau).
For the first time, H. Beyle used the Germanic-sounding pseudonym, under which he could, as a “hussar of liberty”, multiply his criticisms of the unfortunate consequences of the Congress of Vienna for Italy’s destiny (Stendhal et l’Europe, catalog of the exhibition at the Bibliothèque nationale, 1983, no. 162).
The preface has not been reproduced in later editions.
“Stendhal published this work in 1817; the author, a “cavalry officer” who “ceased to consider himself French since 1814”, uses the pseudonym under which he was to become famous. The narrative focuses on the fictional itinerary of a journey the author is said to have made in 1816 and 1817, from Milan to Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, and subsequently from Rome to Florence, Bologna, Ancona, Padua, Venice and Milan. In reality, Beyle saw Padua and Venice in 1813 and 1815… The Italy of that time allowed the young author to believe that he was on the verge of happiness: the magnificent development of the arts, the lightness and at the same time the absolute character of feelings, hatred or love, the habits of a gallant and lively society made him intensely attentive to the present and curious about this age-old civilization. Rome, Naples and Florence seemed to him to be the three cities of the spirit, for the freedom of conversation, the activity of painters and musicians, and the beauty of women. In the throes of a refined hedonism, Stendhal rapturously moves from one place to another, from the Lombard lakes to the banks of the Arno and Vesuvius, never concealing his disdain for “dry souls” who fail to understand the beauty of artistic creation and the pleasant life of a society that is accountable only to itself and aspires to the highest destinies. And it is in his praise of Milan that the book achieves perfect literary originality. Later, Stendhal was to complete this brilliant overview of nineteenth-century Italy with his ‘Promenades dans Rome’. Dictionnaire des Œuvres, V, 823.
A precious copy of this rare first edition by Stendhal, preserved in its full contemporary binding signed by Doll, an extremely rare condition.
Provenance: Auguste Lambiotte (n° 96 of the 4th Lambiotte sale, December 1977).