"IT IS CHIEFLY THROUGH BOOKS THAT WE ENJOY INTERCOURSE WITH SUPERIOR MINDS": FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF THE COUNTESS DE GENLIS' MEMOIRS, 1825, RICHLY EXTRA-ILLUSTRATION, BEAUTIFULLY BOUND BY BAYNTUN
GENLIS, Countess de. Memoirs of the Countess de Genlis, Illustrative of the History of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. London: Henry Colburn, 1825. Eight volumes. Octavo, early 20th-century full red morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines and covers, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $6800.
First edition in English of these compelling memoirs, extensively extra-illustrated with approximately 150 relevant portraits and views of France (nearly a third hand-colored), beautifully bound in full morocco-gilt by Bayntun.
Madame de Genlis was "a woman of encyclopedic information…. Napoleon paid her to furnish him with letters on literature, politics, etc…. She was an inexhaustible writer of popular romances which combined sentiment and sensation, morals and history" (Oxford Companion to French Literature, 304). Her Memoirs, which comprise a perceptive social history of the 18th and early 19th centuries, were initially considered somewhat scandalous because of their detailed personal accounts of famous figures known to frequent her salon. She was later well-known both for her advocacy of Rousseau's theories of child-rearing and her close association with her relative Madame de Montesson, the lover (and later wife) of Louis Philippe d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans. Morocco bookplates of Doris Louise Benz, whose exceptional and varied collection, mainly comprising first editions like this one, was sold at auction to benefit Dartmouth College Library—a charitable gesture that Dartmouth happily accepted but continues to find mysterious given that Benz was an alumna of Radcliffe with no ties to Dartmouth.
Only a few spots of foxing to generally clean interiors, bindings lovely and fine. A beautiful set.