Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2017 Issue

It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World




Men shall always comply with women’s desires...

The power women have over men is not a negative thing;

it’s a gift from Nature, it was meant for the happiness of mankind.


Jean-Jacques Rousseau.



It is a modest booklet of 54 pages entitled De l’influence des femmes dans l’ordre civil et politique / Of the Influence of Women in Politics and Civil Order. But the topic and the date of publication, 1789, make it worthy of attention. As a matter of fact, it happens to be at the root of feminism—well, in a slightly macho way. The first paragraph of the famous Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 reads: “Men were born and remain free and equal in rights...” Suddenly, a bold and female voice rose: “What about women?


Taking the lead of the liberation struggle of “too weak a sex, which has been oppressed for too long” (Rêveries patriotiques), Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793) became the ultimate figure of French “feminism” during the Revolution. An educated woman very much involved in the “philosophical” ideas of the time, she was of all the good fights, from the abolition of slavery to the abolition of privileges. But her most remembered exploit is the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen (1791), a sharp reply to the Declaration of the rights of Man... And it is no lukewarm manifest: “Considering that ignoring, forgetting or despising women caused all public grievances, (women) have decided to expose their natural, holy and inalienable rights in this solemn declaration.” The term of “feminism” is an anachronism, but it best describes this fiery woman, who was eventually beheaded on the guillotine.


Other revolutionaries evoked the rights of women. In 1790, Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-1794) wrote, in The Admission of Women to the Right of Vote: “Whether no human being has true rights, or they all have the same ones; and he who votes against the rights of others on the ground of religion, colour or sex, is denying his own rights.” But not everybody regarded the rights of women as crucial. In Trois femmes de la Révolution (BNF Collection), the modern historian Léopold Lacour writes: “During the first months of 1789, appeared a sort of “feminist” agitation. Mocked in most pamphlets, the matter of the vote of women also gave birth to serious writings such as Requête des femmes pour leur admission aux Etats Généraux, Protestation des dames françaises contre la tenue des Etats prétendus généraux, De l’influence des femmes dans l’ordre civil et politique, etc...” Thus, our little booklet is quoted among a handful of serious writings!



Who’s that boy?


According to the National Library of France, our booklet is anonymous. But in his book Théologie et politique au siècle des Lumières (1770-1820) published in 1973, Bernard Plongeron attributes it to “a deputy of the Etats Généraux (the revolutionary assembly—editor’s note), the honourable lawyer Antoine Sevran from Grenoble (1737-1807).” Plongeron even says that his booklet did inspire Abbot Grégoire’s Of the Influence of Christianity Over the Condition of Women (Paris, 2nd edition, 1826, 132 p. in-8°). One thing is for sure, our booklet was written by a man; and he couldn’t hide it, even while advocating that “in order to break asunder the chains that hold us captive, we must make women a part of our fight: they must stand by the freedom fighters!” The first 28 pages draw up a sort of historical catalogue; the author lists various female deeds of importance. Esther, denouncing the plot of Aman and “saving her brothers, and freeing the empire from a monster”; Semiramis, the Queen of Babylon, who “conquered the whole of Asia and ruled the largest empire that had ever existed”; in more recent times, he talks about Anne Boleyn, whose misfortune “destroyed the Popish authority, and soon Catholicism, in England”; of Elisabeth 1st, who “humiliated Spain” and “built the maritime glory of England.” Our author did not hold courtesans in high esteem—he acknowledges the tremendous influence la Du Barry or la Pompadour had on French politics, but magnanimously adds: “let’s not blame French women for the crimes committed by a handful of them only”—a manly piece of advice, indeed.


A paternalistic benevolence


The revolution was a period of great social progress. But while slavery was abolished—though later reinstated for a while by Napoleon—, women still had a long way to go. Emphatically evoking “the power and the holy duty women owe their country”, the author of our pamphlet confines them to a domestic role. As a matter of fact, he sounds paternalistic: “I will now tell you what women must do against the peril facing our country.” First, he recommends them to be good mothers. “Today, you must create citizens, and blow patriotism into the minds of your children (...). The mother must turn her household into a patriotic university.” Far from the revolutionary assembly, household was their kingdom: “Our freedom must be rooted in the bosom of the peaceful occupation of domestic life.” But they were also urged to fight on another battlefield, the hearts of men: “It is against despotism that you must arm your charms; against it that you must exalt the courage of your admirers.” Our author even suggests that a man should swear to defend his country against despotism before making love to a woman. “Whose man would dare breaking such a promise?” he asks, before adding: “Such is the privilege of women, to command both the mind and the heart.” Ite missa est.


Our author added several notes to his text; one of them reminds us of a paragraph written by Guillaume-Thomas Raynal—it is believed that Diderot himself wrote this part of A philosophical and political history of the settlements and trade of Europeans in the East and West Indies (1786)—about slave owners! It deals with the way the males of various countries treat their women: “The English love more than they respect them; the Northern peoples are interested in reproduction only; could the Ottomans love them? To them, they are only machines to satisfy their pleasures. Esteem and confidence—the charms of life—, are banned from their relationship. (...) The Italians only love them by outburst; and they often offend them—and nature—out of an unworthy and shameful preference. To end up, the Spaniards tyrannize them with adoration.” And guess what? “Only the French know how to love, esteem and respect women.” Á votre service, mesdames!


Dreams and things


No doubt a woman like Olympe de Gouges couldn’t be satisfied with this paternalistic vision of the role of women in the state affairs. But she was conscious of the hardship ahead. Wasn’t one of her famous writings entitled “patriotic daydream”? And the dream turned to nightmare when, following the inevitable political shifts of these troubled times, she was eventually executed in 1793. Her Déclaration des Droits de la femme et de la Citoyenne remains, though. And our surprising booklet, though supposedly siding with women in their struggle towards emancipation, was yet another obstacle in their way. Let’s bear in mind that the right to vote wasn’t granted to French women before 1944—one hundred and fifty five years after the Revolution. Meanwhile, “all males remained equal...” Females were required to patiently wait at home. It takes time for some dreams to come true.



Thibault Ehrengardt


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 7. Ritter's unusual sun-dial world map, 1607. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 16. Fascinating Japanese satirical map published prior to WWII, 1932. Est. $1400 to $2000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 30. Newton's 2" miniature terrestrial globe, 1833. Est. $3500 to $4500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 318. Braun & Hogenberg's first plan of Moscow in contemporary color, 1575. Est. $2750 to $3500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 346. One of the most decorative 18th century maps of Malta, 1680. Est. $1200 to $1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 412. The first printed map devoted to the Pacific in full contemporary color, 1589. Est. $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 425. Rare set of celebrated explorers of the New World, 1592. Est. $1900 to $2300
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 436. Two superb miniature atlases bound in one volume with 98 maps, 1682. Est. $5500 to $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 445. Part IV of de Bry's "Grand Voyages" by Girolamo Benzoni, 1613. Est. $2000 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 447. Tallis' "History of the United States of America" in six volumes, 1850. Est. $1500 to $1800
    <b>Old World Auctions (March 21-28):</b> Lot 448. Mallet's miniature military masterpiece, 1672. Est. $1400 to $1700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Malcolm X, Autograph Letter Signed, from prison, 1950. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Letter from Moses Walker, an enslaved Georgia man, to his mother at another plantation, 1854. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Signed cabinet card of Frederick Douglass, albumen photograph, Boston, circa 1879. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Placard from the Memphis Sanitation Worker's strike, 1968. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b><br><i>The North Star,</i> volume 1, issue 27, Rochester, NY, 1848. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Hand-tinted tintype of John Brown, circa 1860. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster signed & inscribed by Huey Newton, circa 1967. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Album of aerial views of the march on Montgomery, taken by federal troops, 1965. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 29:</b> Poster for the SNCC, photograph by Danny Lyon featuring John Lewis, circa 1962. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Jenner (Rev. George Charles). <i>The Evidence at Large...Respecting Dr Jenner's Discovery of Vaccine Inoculation,</i> presentation copy from Edward Jenner to Rev. Rowland Hill, 1805. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Houdini (Harry).- Maggi (Girolamo). <i>De tintinnabulis liber postumus...de equuleo liber,</i> Harry Houdini's copy, Amsterdam, H. Wetstein, 1689. £600 to £800
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Meyer (Henry Leonard). Coloured Illustrations of British Birds, and their Eggs , 7 vol. in 2 plus Illustrations of British Birds, 4 vol., 1842-50 and [1835-51]. £5,000 to £7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>An Entirely New Romantic Drama, in Three Acts, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called The Frozen Deep,</i> 1857. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Lighthouses and Islands of Ireland, c. 125 drawings, 1867. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Shelley (Lady Jane). Diary, 1853 & 1860. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Scottish Binding.- The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, bound in contemporary brown polished calf decorated with the figure of a Chinese spearman, by ?James Scott of Edinburgh, 1778. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Man Within,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1929. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Mellan (Claude, 1598-1688). The Holy Face, or the Veil of St Veronica, [c. 1649 and later]. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Desaguliers (John Theophilus). <i>A Dissertation concerning Electricity,</i> W. Innys, and T. Longman, 1742. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Le Jeune (Paul). <i>Relation de se qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France en l'anné 1636 enuoyée au R.Pere Provincial de la Compagnie de Iesus en la Province de France,</i> 1637. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar. 22:</b> Stumpf (Johann Rudolph). <i>Gemeiner loblicher Eydgnoschafft Stetten, Landen und Völckern Chronicwirdiger thaaten beschreibung, </i> Zurich, Froschauer, 1586. £3,000 to £4,000

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