Stendhal [pseud. of Marie-Henri Beyle, 1783-1842].
La chartreuse de Parme. Par l’autheur de Rouge et Noir. Paris, Ambroise Dupont, 1839.
Two volumes, 8° (203x123 mm). I. , 402 pages. II. , 445 pages. Both volumes complete with half-title. Lacking – as with the majority of recorded copies – the last leaf of the second volume, a cancel with advertising. Contemporary brown cloth, blind-stamped with floral pattern. Smooth spines, divided into compartments by gilt fillets, title and volume numbering lettered in gold. Blue speckled edges. Pastedowns and flyleaves in yellow paper. Hinges and corners somewhat rubbed. A good copy, some stains.
Provenance: armorial stamp on the half-title of both volumes, the same coat of arms stamped in gilt at the foot of the spines.
First edition, in its rare first issue, of the eighth novel published by the celebrated French writer Stendhal, mentioned here as the author of another famous roman, Le Rouge et Noir, which appeared in 1830/31. La chartreuse de Parme was written in only fifty-six days, between 4 November and 26 December 1838. It was inspired by both Stendhal's desire to write a Napoleonic novel centred on the Battle of Waterloo and his interest in the life of Alexander Farnese – who would later become Pope Paul III – which featured numerous parallels with that of the novel's main character, Fabrice del Dongo.
The present copy, printed on vellum paper (papier velin) and without the indication 'Deuxième édition' on the title-page, represents a rare example from the first issue of this edition. “The various copies of the first edition of the Chartreuse de Parme that I saw were all on vellum paper; there is, under the same date of 1839, an edition of this work bearing on the titles and on the wrappers 'Deuxième édition'. The copy I saw is on laid-paper. In fact, it is a new issue on the same composition rather than a second edition. The volumes' collation is identical to the first edition” (Vicaire, Manuel de l'amateur, 458).
The novel was enthusiastically received by Stendhal's contemporaries. Of especial note is the opinion expressed by Honoré de Balzac in a letter written to Stendhal on 6 April 1839: upon reading the work, Balzac writes “Il ne faut jamais retarder de faire plaisir à ceux qui nous ont donné du plaisir. La chartreuse est un grand et beau Livre, je vous le dis sans flatterie, sans envie, car je serai incapable de le faire [...]”.
Carteret Romantique II, 358; Clouzot 151; Lhermitte 567; Vicaire I, 458; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 271.