First edition of La Vie de mon père
preserved in its contemporary boards.
Restif de la Bretonne, Nicolas Edme. La vie de mon père. Par l’Auteur du Paysan perverti.
Neufchatel, et se trouve à Paris, veuve Duchesne, 1779.
Two parts in 1 volume 12mo [166 x 96 mm] of (3) ll., 152 pp. ; 139 pp., (3) pp.
Boards, flat spine decorated with false bands and fleurons in gilt, lettering pieces in red morocco, sprinkled edges, some tiny stains in some ll without loss of text.
First edition, second issue, of the “most renowned of all of Restif’s books”. (Dictionnaire des Œuvres)
It is decorated with 14 full-page engravings out of pagination and 2 medallion portraits representing the mother and father of the author on the title of each part.
Rive Childs, 248-249 ; Lacroix, pp. 152-154 ; Cohen, 501 ; Pichon, 3426 ; Bulletin Morgand et Fatout, 5243 et 9533 ; Sander, 1713.
Considered by its author to be the most esteemed of the texts he ever wrote, this lively biography of Restif’s father remains one of the most precise depictions of the peasantry before the Revolution and an excellent source of information on the French rural world of the 18th century.
The author relates with a very fresh style the labors and the days of Edmé Restif (1692- 1764), a laborer from Burgundy.
The sensible tone adopted by the author was so in tune with his contemporaries’ tastes that it was an immediate success.
Using as a backdrop France in the last century of the Ancien Régime, Restif gives life to an unforgettable figure, a peasant worshipped by his fellow inhabitants of the village of Sacy.
It is the best of Restif with, in its craftsmanship, the ease and colorfulness of a born writer.
This text is a monument raised to a father by a son who reproaches himself, but not completely, of having failed him by abandoning the land, a document on peasant life and the evocation of a familial cocoon, a patriarchal community, the land of his childhood. (Dictionnaire des Œuvres)
This is what Restif had to say : “This text, the most esteemed I ever wrote and whose success was the most wide, came to me, suddenly, when I finished the printing of the “Nouvel Abeilard”, on which I was working relentlessly. I took pen to paper with a renewed ardor and wrote it in one sitting, as nothing else occupied me, while the printing lasted.” (Mes ouvrages, p. 149)
“It is of this small text written in 1778 that a man in the know said: “I wish the ministry had a hundred thousand copies of these small pieces printed so as to distribute them to all the different villages.” (Revue des ouvrages, p. CLXXXV)
Le Journal de Paris (n° of 24 March 1779) had greatly praised La Vie de mon père : “This new production from Restif de la Bretonne seems to us to rise above everything else he published, whether it be the choice of the topic, its usefulness, the simplicity, and even the grandeur of the sentiments. Everything in it is natural, interesting and true.”
A copy preserved in its precious contemporary boards.