"BOVARY C’EST MOI": SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF FLAUBERT’S MASTERPIECE, WITH EXCEPTIONALLY RARE ORIGINAL WRAPPERS BOUND IN
FLAUBERT, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Moeurs de Province. Paris: Michel Lévy Frères, 1857. Two volumes. 12mo, early 20th-century three-quarter black straight-grain morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled boards and endpapers, top edges gilt; original printed pale green paper wrappers and spine bound in each volume. $7500.
Rare first edition, first issue in book form, of Flaubert’s literary masterpiece, "the definitive model of the novel" (Émile Zola) and the work that "ushered the age of realism into modern European literature," finely bound in morocco-gilt by Creuzevault with the exceptionally rare original wrappers bound in.
Upon publication of Madame Bovary, both Flaubert and his publisher were brought to trial on charges of immorality and narrowly escaped conviction (the same tribunal found Charles Baudelaire guilty on the same charge six months later). Although purportedly based in part on the circumstances of Flaubert's friend Louise Pradier, the author's claim that "Madame Bovary is myself," with his unrelenting objectivity and deep compassion for his characters, earned him a reputation as the great master of the Realist school of French literature. Flaubert's attention to minute particulars of description and his belief in "le mot juste" significantly influenced later writers and thinkers, making Madame Bovary integral to the evolution of modern literature. First serialized in La Revue de Paris in October and December of 1856, this is the first issue in book form, with misspelling of "Senard" as "Senart" on dedication page. With both half titles; bound with publisher's 36-page catalogue at rear of Volume I. Text in French. From the Library of Virginia House in Richmond with its bookplate, discreet call number in pencil on title page margin. Owner ink signature dated 1924. Early ink owner signature to front wrapper of each volume. Old dealer description tipped to rear flyleaf of Volume II.
Minor soiling to original wrappers, rarely found; text clean. Morocco-gilt bindings by Creuzevault quite handsome and fine. An excellent copy, desirable with the original wrappers bound in.