Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2014 Issue

Of Goupils and Men, or the Bestial Condition of Man

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The Lion King (and Queen) address their beastly subjects.

A question was recently raised in a rare books group on a social network: are fables featuring animals for kids? Yes, they are—but of course, not only. I’m French and, as such, a kid of Jean de La Fontaine—his adaptations of Aesop’s fables have become a part of our DNA. Kids love fables with animals because they are a beautiful way to say horrible things, and they enable them to catch a glimpse of the world of the grown-ups—they are initiatory readings. This reminded me of a peculiar book of mine entitled Le Renard, ou Le Procès des Bêtes (Reynard the Fox (1)) and published in 1743 in Amsterdam—quite a disturbing reading. It’s a sort of German Roman de Renard (2) featuring the dreadful Trigaudin, a cunning fox who cuts off the ears and takes out the eyes of his enemies, devours their offspring, tricks them and leads them to death. Trigaudin is a vicious creature who never pays for his crimes; on the contrary, he is eventually appointed to the highest position of the kingdom—a bloody and immoral tale, in fact. For kids? Well—they usually enjoy it. These animals tell them about the violence of the outside world, and they instinctively understand the value of such a teaching.

 

Mr. Goupil and Dr. Renard

 

 Trigaudin is what French people used to call a goupil—a fox; but the goupil featured in Le Roman de Renard became so famous during the Middle Age that he eventually gave his name, Renard, to his entire race. Le Procès des Bêtes is illustrated with twenty engravings. The first one shows a crowned lion holding a sceptre in front of an assembly of various animals. Among them is Glutton the Wolf (called Isegrim in many English editions, the name derives from Le Roman de Renard), who complains to His Majesty about the behaviour of Trigaudin, the only subject who dared not come to the royal assembly. Trigaudin, reports the Wolf, pretending to clean the face of his offspring, viciously blinded them with his claws! Then Gozille the Cock (a.k.a Chanticleer) shows the beheaded body of his daughter—“Out of fifteen children,” explains the wretched fowl, “Trigaudin has only left four alive!” Trigaudin came to Gozille a few weeks ago to tell him he had decided to stop chasing his offspring and that he was going on a long journey: “Take care of yourself, and don’t you crow too early in the morning and catch a cold.” The gullible fowl believed him, and the fox caught him off-guard. Moral of this chapter: “Never trust your enemy, no matter the reason why he comes to you.

 

Malice Vs. Strength

 

Despite the short morals that end up each chapter, Le Procès des Bêtes is a suspicious book that seems to teach our kids that malice always triumphs—indeed, there’s no satirical dimension to this popular text, as shown by William J. Thoms in his impressive introduction to the 1844 edition of the fable (London). Several royal messengers are sent to Trigaudin in his remote castle, whom he murders or mutilates until he is brought to Court and sentenced to death. With the rope around his neck, Trigaudin suddenly shouts at the Queen, to tell her about a wonderful treasure hidden somewhere. “He was taken off the gallows at once, so he could privately talk to the King and the Queen,” reads the book. Of course, Trigaudin is sent for the so-called treasure with some royal subjects... whom he tricks and murders. After another series of evil deeds, our cunning fox has no choice but to face his infuriated King again. Glutton the Wolf then challenges him to a duel; in the Middle Age, it was a common way to settle feuds, as God would never allow a guilty man to triumph over an innocent. Just like the Judgement of God that consisted in plunging the hand of a suspicious man into boiling water—if innocent, God would cure his wound within three days’ time; else, he was put to death. Trigaudin is less strong than his opponent, but more intelligent—and he eventually wins the fight. As soon as he victoriously comes out of the arena, all his former enemies rush to congratulate him. Moral of this chapter: “You are always wooed when elevated over the multitude, whether by merit or malice. Each and every one tries to get close to those Fortune favours. But adversity keeps even your friends away.”

 

Footnotes: 

 (1): In his Manuel du Libraire (Paris, 1814), Jacques-Charles Brunet gives a short insight of the English editions of this book, starting with The Hystorye of Reynart the Foxe... (M.CCCC.LXXXJ.). “This is one of the rarest editions from the press of Caxton. The history of the Regnard has since been several times printed, but with considerable changes. I’ve seen the following copy: The most delectable history of Reynard the Fox...(London, 1684).” He then evokes the editions of 1667, 1681 and 1733.

 

(2): This collective work from the Middle Age is a cornerstone of French literature. Jacques-Charles Brunet, in the aforementioned work ,writes: “Reynier le renard, histoire très joyeuse et récréative, contenant 70 chapitres, en français et bas allemand (Anvers, 1566). Prosper Marchand says the Flemish text of this volume was republished (...) in 1614, and he thinks that Le Renard, ou le Procès des bêtes, Bruxelles, 1739 (...) was translated from this Flemish version which was itself translated from—or inspired by—the French work Le livre de Maître Regnard. The Grand d’Aussy, on the contrary (...) says these Flemish and French versions were inspired by the old Roman de Renard, written in French verse in the early 13th century by Perrot de Saint-Cloot, or Pierre de Saint-Clost.”

  • Le Renard, ou Le Procez des Bestes (Bruxelles, 1739): title page, 3pp, 2pp, 1pp, 132pp, 4pp. This is the first edition, featuring a preface and some forewords. The quality of the 21 engravings (including a title vignette) is far better than in the edition above.

 Link: books.google.fr/books?id=cdcTAAAAQAAJ

  • Le Renard, ou Le Procès des Bêtes (Amsterdam, 1743): title page, 85pp, 2pp. 20 engravings. This edition features no title vignette and the engravings signed I.C.I are less attractive than those of the first edition.

Link: books.google.fr/books?id=V8t3agycTnkC

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest Hemingway's Typewriter Used to Write "A Moveable Feast", Impeccable Provenance From His Biographer A. E. Hotchner. $50,000 to $100,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Samuel Colt, "The Gun that Won the West": 3 Signed Patent Items for "Revolving Cylinder Guns". $40,000 to $50,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Jack Kerouac's Own Typewriter From His Estate Used to Write His Very Last Book. $18,000 to $20,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Rare Force Engraving of the Declaration of Independence Printed in 1848. $15,000 to $18,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Superb Tchaikovsky ALS to Napravnik, 4pp on "Mazeppa". $12,000 to $15,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Wounded Knee Massacre Same Day Eyewitness Account by Participant, "the 7th needn't be ashamed of today's record". $10,000 to $12,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> F. Scott Fitzgerald Signed Gordon Bryant Portrait -- Finest Known. $8,000 to $9,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Neil Armstrong ALS on NASA Letterhead Regarding His X-15 Flights. $7,000 to $8,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> M. Gandhi Letter: "the life span of human beings is preordained..." -- Fantastic Spiritual Content. $7,000 to $8,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Autographs, Books & Relics Including Kerouac Estate<br>& Hemingway<br>February 26, 2020</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> "Damn the torpedoes!" Riveting 24pp ALS of Admiral Farragut's Steward Describing the "Battle of Mobile Bay”. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Abraham Lincoln Signed Order to Suspend Execution. $5,000 to $6,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 26:</b> Napoleon DS Featuring Imperial Eagle and Enormous Great Seal Appointing Norman Politician Baron of the Empire. $4,000 to $5,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Nebel, Carl. The War Between the United States and Mexico. New York, 1851. $270,000 - $300,000 MXN / USD $15,000 - $16,666
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Nebel, Carl. The War Between the United States and Mexico. New York, 1851. $270,000 - $300,000 MXN / USD $15,000 - $16,666
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Bolaños, Joaquín. La Portentosa Vida de la Muerte... (“The Portentous Life of Death”) México, 1792. $50,000 - $60,000 MXN / USD $2,777 - $3,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Tratado de Paz… entre la República Mexicana y los Estados Unidos. (“Treaty of Peace… Between the Mexican Republic and the United States”) 1848. $80,000 - $90,000 MXN / USD $4,444 - $5,000
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Fabregat, Josep Joaquín. Vista de la Plaza de México… (“View of the Square of Mexico”) México, 1797. $60,000 - $100,000 MXN / USD $3,333 - $5,555
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Hidalgo y Costilla, Miguel. Invitación al Coronel Narciso de la Canal… (“Invitation to Coronel Narciso de la Canal…”) 1810. $170,000 - $200,000 MXN / USD $9,444 - $11,111
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Gálvez, Joseph de. Real Cédula de Erección de la Compañía de Filipinas. (“Royal Notice of the Creation of the Company of the Philippines”) 1785. $40,000 - $60,000 MXN / USD $2,222 - $3,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Colección de Constituciones de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (“Collection of Constitutions of the United Mexican States”) México, 1828. $50,000 - $60,000 MXN / USD $2,777 - $3,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Ruelas, Julio. Poemario Manuscrito Ilustrado, Dedicado a Lorencita Braniff (“Collection of Illustrated Poem Manuscripts, Dedicated to Lorencita Braniff”). 1903. $60,000 - $70,000 MXN / USD $3,333 - $3,888
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Espinosa de los Monteros, Juan J. Aviso de la Junta Soberana al Público (“Notice of the Sovereign Meeting to the Public”) 1821. $60,000 - $80,000 MXN / USD $3,333 - $4,444
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Constitución Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos... (“Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States”) México, 1824. $140,000 - $150,000 MXN / USD $7,777 - $8,333
    <b>Morton Subastas, Feb 25:</b> Alcaraz, Ramón. Apuntes para la Historia de la Guerra entre México y los EU (“Notes on the History of the War between Mexico and the United States”). 1848. $40,000 - $50,000 MXN / USD $2,222 - $2,777
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.

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