Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2012 Issue

Sandras De Courtilz and His Little Book of Lies

Courtilz-4

Last June, an auction sale held by Pierre Ségeron in Poitiers, France, featured an interesting selection of De Courtilz’ hard to find works. A prolific writer, author of Mémoires de D’Artagnan (1700), which inspired Alexandre Dumas for his novel The Three Musketeers, Gaetien de Courtilz, Sieur de Sandras, is an underground legend of French literature, the unwilling precursor of “ historical novels ”. He was, nevertheless, mostly despised in his time – and even afterwards. “ He was born in Paris in 1664, reads the Chaudon & Delandine’s Dictionnaire historique (Lyon, 1804). Once a Captain in the Regiment of Champagne, he went to Holland in 1683 to open a little office of lies (...) As prolific as trivial, he penned many a novels published as histories – thus even more dangerous as he hid his lies behind a screen of truth. Back to France in 1702, he was emprisoned to La Bastille where he remained under close watch for many years, and he did not come out until 1711.”

Louis XIV was very serious about satires. In 1694, for example, a lampoon entitled Scarron apparu à Mme de Maintenon (Scarron appeared to Mme de Maintenon) was anonymously published. It was a very harsh attack against the King and his last wife, Mme de Maintenon, widow of the free-thinker Scarron (author of Le Roman comique, then considered a trivial book). In his Manuel du Libraire, Brunet wrote : “ A companion and a binder, after being put to the question (torture, author’s note), both ordinary and extraordinary, where hung for having published, bound and sold this satire against the King. Two other accused were sent to the galleys, a fifth one was put to the question and almost sent to the gallows before a counter-order was sent, probably obtained by Père Lachaise (the confessor of the King, author’s note) whom the victim was a relative of. ”

A satirical writer, Courtilz surely felt more secure in Holland where he published, in 1683, the brutal La Conduite de la France depuis la paix de Nimègues (The Behaviour of France, since the Peace of Nimègues), “ in which he vomits impostures about his own country ”, reads De Feller’s Dictionnaire Historique (Liège, 1791). The reason he was hated so much is because he was an enemy of the Crown and an alleged Protestant – though he apparently professed Catholicism. “ When Louis XIV (...), motivated by his frenetic bigotry, went too far with the Protestants, Holland welcomed them warmly, wrote Léonce Jeanmart de Brouillant in his Histoire de Pierre Marteau (Quantin, 1888). Despite spying measures and death threats, the most intelligent and active part of the population migrated. Amsterdam granted these expatriates free exercice of their occupation and lent them considerable sums of money. (…) Holland, according to Bayle, had become the great ark of the fugitives.” As a “reformed ” country, Holland nurtured satires against the powerful Catholic congregation of the Jesuites that had gained considerable power in France, and against the most hated King of Europe – or the most feared, as you like it - Louis the Great. Holland and France went to war several times over this period. Satires were considered as weapons, their authors as spies and traitors.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Keep Calm and Carry On</i>, designer unknown, 1939. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, <i>Le Journal / La Traite des Blanches</i>, 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>"Let Us Go Forward Together,"</i> designer unknown, 1940. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Babylone d'Allemagne</i>, 1894. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Frank Beatty, <i>Out of the Running</i>, 1929. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Wake Up America Day</i>, 1917. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Danté / Sim • Sala • Bim!</i>, designer unknown. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>[Zodiac]</i>, 1900. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Rick Griffin, <i>Jimi Hendrix Experience / John Mayall</i>, 1968. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Abram Games, <i>Join the ATS</i>, 1941. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Aldo Mazza, <i>Torino / Esposizione Internazionale</i>, 1911. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Robert Motherwell, <i>Julliard School / Dedication - Lincoln Center</i>, 1969. $3,000 to $4,000
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…

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