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Prosper Mérimée

15, 000 

In stock



First very rare edition of “Carmen, one of the most famous
texts by Prosper Mérimée” (Carteret).

One of the rarest and most sought-after Romantic texts” (Clouzot).

A precious copy preserved in its contemporary signed binding.


Mérimée, Prosper. Carmen.
Paris, Michel Lévy frères, 1846.

8vo [206 x 127 mm] of (2) ll., 363 pp.

Light-brown half-morocco, ribbed spine with motifs à la grotesque in the raised bands, blind-stamped and gilt fillets, sprinkled edges. Contemporary binding signed by Andrieux.

Precious first edition of Carmen, “one of the rarest and most sought-after Romantic texts”. (Clouzot)

Clouzot, 201 ; Carteret, II, 148-150 ;  Vicaire, V, 724-725 ; En Français dans le texte, 265.

 “First very rare edition of one of the most famous texts by Prosper Mérimée.” (Carteret)

Other than Carmen, it includes the texts Arsène Guillot and L’Abbé Aubain.

Carmen gifts our intelligence with a rare quality pleasure. The very classical purity and concision of its style contrasts with the violence of the passions displayed; the terms borrowed from the gypsies give the text a precise and striking local color and the dramatic tension is constant, from the beginning to the end of this short story which “remains one of the most typical and suggestive stories of love and death”. (Laffont-Bompiani)

Mérimée is from the same intellectual family as Stendhal. He is a dilettante ; he likes rare books and carefully chosen friends; he hates all things vulgar. His name is linked to short stories. It was his true specialty. This concise form allowed him to put forth his observation talents, always accurate, sharp and even crude, and to hone his gift for colors and his art of violent and brutal visions. In the multiple shapes of life, which he seizes with vigor but writes about with a powerful sobriety, he seeks primitive sentiments, whether they be excessive or perverse ; he likes to find them in people living in the wild countryside and in the bourgeois who frequent the Parisian salons. Violent human nature, that’s what he likes.

In Corsica, he contemplates the maquis, “the desolate mountains”, the “white funeral chapels”, the fortified houses, the “secular chestnut trees from where Orso’s dreams escape”; he paints in a sure and rapid way this sunlit landscape. He learns of local customs, lends an ear to the “balata” and the “vocero”, and he collects the different aspects of the mores which are indispensable to the intelligence of the strange characters he creates. Finally, he studies the real Colomba, who will become the heroine of his short story and lays down her authentic and fierce personality for posterity.” (J. Béder, P. Hazard, Littérature française, II, p.267)

The extreme rarity of this first edition in a well-preserved contemporary condition is underlined by the bibliographers :

“This text is extremely rare in quality contemporary binding. An amateur could content himself with a copy in a modern binding or in a very simple old binding.” (Clouzot).

A superb copy, pure and elegantly bound in contemporary half-morocco decorated à la grotesque by Andrieux, the binder of the House d’Orléans, with his signature at the foot of the spine

Provenance : Library of Vicomte Etienne de Bellaigue de Bughas, with ex-libris.

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