‘un livre très instructif et même philosophique’

Le Palais-Royal. Première Partie. Les Filles de l’Alée-des-Soupirs. [And:] Seconde Partie. Les Sunamites. [And:] Troisième Partie. Les Converseuses.

Paris: au Palais-royal d’abord, puis partout, même chez Guillot, 1790.

Price: $3,000.00

About the item

First edition. With folding plate to each volume. 280, 248, 288 pp. 3 vols. 12mo. ‘un livre très instructif et même philosophique’. Full red morocco gilt, spines gilt, gilt turn-ins and marbled endsheets, a.e.g., by Belz-Niedrée. Bookplate of Ross Ambler Curran. Faintest traces of rubbing. Fine. Rives-Child, p. 313.

Item #345509

The famed sociological account of the girls of the Palais-Royal and a chronicle of high-class prositution, by the great observer of Parisian life, Rétif de la Bretonne (1734-1806), who appears has written himself in as a character, M. Aquilin-des-Escopettes.
He later described the Palais-Royal as “the universal rendez-vous of the nations, business, pleasure, voluptuousness, debauchery, gaming, stock-trading … this celebrated bazaar attracted me of itself and with the pleasures encountered along the way”. Author of Les Françaises (1786) et Les Parisiennes (1787), Rétif de la Bretonne turned his attention upon classes people and social milieux overlooked by polite literature, and is thus a direct precursor of Balzac and Zola.

The three engraved plates show the thirty-two Filles de l’Allée-des-Soupir, the girls of the Cirque, and the forty-eight Exsunamites in La Colonnade. The bookseller Gillot was guillotined in 1792.

Attractive copy in a late-nineteenth century binding.