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Restif de la Bretonne, Nicolas Edme
L’année des dames nationales,

5, 000 



First edition of Restif’s L’Année des dames nationales, complete with 31 engravings including the one of October 29th depicting the execution of Charlotte Corday.

An attractive wide margin copy
preserved in contemporary wrappers, as issued.

Paris, 1791-1794.



Restif de La Bretonne, Nicolas Edme. L’année des dames nationales ; ou Histoire, jour-par-jour, d’une femme de France.
Genève, Paris, Les Libraires, 1791-1794.

12 vol 12mo in continuous pagination; illustrated with 31 copper-engraved plates (12 as frontispieces, 11 with double compartments). One of these depicts the execution of Charlotte Corday. Contemporary pink wrappers.
180 x 110 mm.

Precious first edition of one of restif de la bretonne’s most important works on the history of morality during the revolution.

Rives Childs. pp. 322 à 327, Cioranescu 52632, Cohen. Livres à gravures du XVIIlè siècle, pp. 884-885, Jacob. Bibliographie raisonnée des ouvrages de Restif de la Bretonne, pp 344 à 368.

Comprising 12 volumes, one for each month of the year, this novel of manners is made of almost 600 stories, a veritable melting pot of literary inspiration, highlighted by bibliographers: “all containing strange facts and suitable for providing playwrights with subjects for plays in all genres.”

The author himself gave this enthusiastic assessment of his work: “This infinitely varied, very extraordinary, very interesting work contains 610 Nouvelles, all of them extraordinary”. Its printing, which cost thirty thousand francs, was a ruinous undertaking for Restif, who complains bitterly about the risks and exorbitant costs of the revolutionary era in a final note.

The book, which features many famous women of the revolutionary era, is packed with anecdotes and highly picturesque details, which Restif got mainly from the Marquis de la Grange, a former officer in the Mousquetaires, who attended the Comtesse de Beauharnais’s literary dinners every Friday.

“There, at around three in the morning, the marquis would recount the secret anecdotes of the courts of Louis XV and Louis XVI.

In order to have authentic information on each of France’s provinces, Restif had his editors write to the characteristic towns to glean “all the traits concerning the women and girls of that town…”. He thus received 500 precise answers, which he adapted in his short stories.

The interest of this collection is heightened by its important iconography for the history of manners and costume under the Revolution.

The well-completed illustration is made of 31 engravings.

The engraving illustrating the October 29th date depicts the execution of Charlotte Corday.

A magnificent and extremely rare copy with full margins, untrimmed, preserved in its original pink wrappers.

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