SGANARELLE, OU LE COCU IMAGINAIRE.

([Amsterdam]: [A. Wolfgang], 1662). 132 x 72 mm. (5 1/4 x 2 3/4"). 4 p.l., 40 pp.

VERY PRETTY 19TH CENTURY RED MOROCCO, GILT, BY CAPÉ (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with French fillet border, raised bands, spine compartments with scrolling tooling, gilt titling, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Leaves a little yellowed with age, two leaves with corners renewed, one repair affecting a couple of letters in three lines of text, otherwise a fine copy, clean and crisp in a sparkling binding.

This is an attractively bound copy of Molière's popular comedy, "Sganarelle, or the Imaginary Cuckold," the most frequently performed of the author's plays during his lifetime. First staged and published in Paris in 1660 with Molière himself in the title role, it tells the story of star-crossed young lovers and the middle-aged couple who each suspect the other of cheating with one of that pair. In the end, all confusion is sorted out and the young lovers united, as Molière/Sganarelle proclaims, "You have seen how the strongest evidence can still plant a false belief in the mind. Remember well this example, and even when you see everything, never believe anything." Under the stage name "Molière," actor and playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (1622-73) penned and produced satirical plays--many of which caused considerable scandal--at the Parisian theater now known as the Comédie Française. According to Britannica, "the actor in him influenced his writing, since he wrote (at speed) what he could most naturally act. . . . His characters are imagined as excitable and excited to the point of incoherence. He sacrifices plot to drama, vivacity, a sense of life. He is a classical writer, yet he is ready to defy all rules of writing." Capé (d. 1867) was one of the most distinguished binders in France in the middle years of the 19th century, and he was especially well known for the delicacy of his work. He was the binder to the Empress Eugénie, and Béraldi calls him "the Bozérian of the second Empire."
(ST14266)