“BOVARY C’EST MOI”: SCARCE FIRST ISSUE OF FLAUBERT’S MASTERPIECE
FLAUBERT, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Moeurs de Province. Paris: Michel Lévy Frères, 1857. Two volumes. 12mo, late 19th-century half red cloth, olive morocco spine labels, marbled boards, uncut. Housed in a custom cloth slipcase. $10,500.
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,” in marbled boards by Thierry de Petit-Simier.
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 issue, with misspelling of "Senard" as "Senart" on dedication page. With half titles; with 36-page publisher's catalogue, in its earliest state, bound in at rear of Volume I. Text in French.
A fine copy of this masterpiece of world literature.