(À Londres: Et se vend, à Paris, Chez Bauche, 1767). 184 x 114 mm. (7 1/4 x 4 1/2"). Four volumes. Fourth Edition of the First Appearance in French.
Pleasing contemporary calf, covers with French fillet border, flat spines in compartments with small circular floral centerpiece, hatched bands at head and foot, each spine with two tan morocco labels, marbled endpapers, turn-ins and all edges gilt. Woodcut headpieces and tailpieces, and 16 engraved plates (including frontispiece) after Gravelot, engraved by Aveline, Chedel, Fessard, and Pasquier. Cross II, 139-40; Cohen-de Ricci 394-95; Lewine, p. 186; Hammelmann, p. 45 (the last two citing the 1750 edition). Two boards neatly repaired with thumb-size patches of sheepskin (presumably at the time of binding), minor rubbing to joints and extremities (two joints with tiny cracks just beginning), but the contemporaneous bindings absolutely sound, generally well preserved, and rather pretty. Endpapers faintly browned from turn-ins, isolated trivial soiling to text, but A FINE COPY INTERNALLY, the text and plates especially fresh.
Pierre-Antoine de la Place (1707-93) was famous as the author of the compendious "Théâtre Anglais" (1745-48), in which a number of plays by Shakespeare first appeared in French, and he was a great admirer of Fielding. According to Cross, de la Place "could not resist . . . the temptation to translate ['Tom Jones'] into his own language. . . . The result was not so much a translation as an adaptation and abridgment" in keeping with what the French understood to be finely wrought narrative. Among other things, de la Place cut down the novel by a third, frequently compressing the narrative and eliminating most of the initial chapters, which he saw as "preliminary discourses" that were instructive and amusing but not an integral part of a novel. The first form of "Tom Jones" to be published in French, de la Place's version appeared initially in 1750, a year after Fielding's original; our set comes from the fourth, corrected, edition, augmented with a life of Fielding. Cross says that our volumes "were rendered unusually attractive by 16 plates designed by Gravelot, who, from a long residence in London, knew English life much better than the translator." Cohen-de Ricci says that the plates are charming and from Gravelot's best period; the bibliography calls for just 11 plates in the 1767 London edition, but the original 1750 Amsterdam (i.e., Paris) printing cited by Cohen-de Ricci contains the same plates as in our copy. The bindings here are simply decorated but are much more elegant than rustic, and the set is very attractive on the shelf. (ST8142)
Add to Cart Price: $750.00
PJP Catalog: 65.