“BOVARY C’EST MOI”: SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF FLAUBERT’S MASTERPIECE
FLAUBERT, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Moeurs de Province. Paris: Michel Lévy Frères, 1857. Two volumes in one. Thick 12mo, contemporary marbled boards rebacked in tan calf gilt, marbled endpapers and edges. $9500.
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.”
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 without publisher’s advertisements. Text in French.
A handsome copy in fine condition.