Partly first edition,
“the most complete and best” (Rive Childs)
of Restif de la Bretonne’s Pornographe.
A beautiful copy entirely untrimmed
and preserved in its contemporary wrappers.
Restif de la bretonne, Nicolas Edme. Le Pornographe ou idées d’un honnête homme sur un projet de règlement pour les prostituées, Propre à prévenir les Malheurs qu’occasionne le Publicisme des Femmes : avec des Notes historiques et justificatives.
Londres, Jean Nourse, La Haye, Gosse junior, 1776.
8vo [210 x 135 mm] of XII, 492 pp., (4) ll.
Contemporary wrappers, entirely untrimmed, case. Contemporary binding.
“Third and partly first edition, printed at 500 copies, thus titled by Restif, identical to the second except for the addition of pages 477-492” of this “curious text”. (P. L. Jacob)
“It is undoubtedly the most complete and best.” (Rive Childs)
“The second edition of the Pornographe, says Restif, is infinitely better than the first. The outline was amended, the notes enlarged by three quarters and the improvement made to the style is indescribable. Joseph II executed it.”
Rive Childs, p.214, n°5; P. L. Jacob, p. 102, n°3; Lacroix, pp. 102-104 ; Bulletin Morgand et Fatout, n°5233 ; Girault de Saint-Fargeau, Revue des romans, II, p. 200.
“In this text, which made a lot of noise, Restif proposes to make laws regarding prostitution. The whores should be cloistered; their lives, pleasures, duties, it is all here described in this singular text full of obscene details.” (Girault de Saint-Fargeau)
“The Pornographe contains the most bizarre and interesting details, at least in the second edition of 1776; the first only contained a small number of historical notes taken from his trips around the globe. The notes in the Pornographe after page 477 contain in alphabetical order a rational table of the places and “public madams” of Paris, and a list of historical and more recent individuals who played an important role in the history of prostitution.” (P. L. Jacob)
The Pornographe is the first book in the renowned series of the “graphes”. Restif offered to “organize the disorder”, meaning give prostitution laws. He had all the pains in the world obtaining the censorship’s stamp. The success of this text was considerable but the project was not well received.
“I began the Pornographe, which the censor Chenu, the commissioner, returned to me saying it offered to legalize something immoral. The text was sent to the censorship committee again: Philippe de Pretot refused it again. I got M. Marchand to sign it and to give the police lieutenant Sartine a positive account. It was printed in April, May and June. No one came back on it.” (Monsieur Nicolas)
“Once it went on sale, it went really quickly. Some said I was crazy; others that I was a punishable reprobate; some gave me the honor of looking at me like I was the zealous defender of libertinism. Never was a more useful project this badly received: there were hardly three of four sane people in town who gave me justice. It was different in the provinces; almost everyone understood the worth of my project.”
A beautiful copy entirely untrimmed and preserved in its contemporary wrappers.
Provenance : handwritten ex-libris on the title-page “Duhamel” ; maybe the signature of the surgeon Duhamel whom Restif met at doctor Guilbert de Préval’s place ; Library of J. C. Courbin, with ex-libris.