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Lot n° 37

BOREL (Pétrus). Champavert. Immoral...

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BOREL (Pétrus). Champavert. Immoral tales. Paris : Eugène Renduel, 1833. - In-8, half dark brown basane, smooth spine decorated, gilt head, untrimmed (binding of the time). Rare first edition. This is one of the major books of the Romantic period and certainly the masterpiece of black and frenetic Romanticism. It begins with a strange preface, a kind of autobiography where the author claims that Pétrus Borel is dead and that his real name was Champavert; 6 truculent and cruel short stories follow. "Pétrus Borel (whose real name was Joseph-Pierre Borel d'Hauterive - for he was entitled to the particle and was the son of a ruined emigrant) was only twenty-three years old when he came to offer Renduel, in 1832, this collection of brutal short stories and bizarre fantasies, whose very title, Champavert, tales of immorality, was so well made to strike the eye and the mind... Renduel gladly accepted these appalling tales, in which qualities and defects were so completely mixed: an inspiration by turns terrible and touching, a rare vigour of mind and style, a powerful but unbridled imagination, an incessant search for the horrible. He paid her quite cheaply for this volume - four hundred francs - but promising, if the sale exceeded eight hundred volumes, to give her seventy-five centimes for each surplus copy. A vain consolation clause, for the first edition sold very slowly, in spite of the strange nickname of Lycanthrope, adopted by the author, and the terrifying vignette attached to Champavert's title" (Jullien. "Le Romantisme et l'éditeur Renduel", 1897, pp. 142-143). This vignette is the one engraved on wood by Godard after a drawing by Jean Gigoux, representing the surgeon Vesalius showing his wife the corpses of all her lovers locked in a cupboard. It appears on the title. Copy in a slightly later binding but with all endpapers renewed. Restored tear to the first three leaves, including the title, with damage to the vignette. Rubbing to the headpieces.

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