Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2016 Issue

The Last of The Monks

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A recent discussion with a few book lovers on social media ended up with the listing of the last known copy of an alleged extinct ‘edition’ on French soil: the rarest translation of Matthew G. Lewis’ The Monk—Le Moine. The only other known copy—with a prestigious provenance—lies on a shelf of the library of the University of Virginia. This is all about various editions and reversed engravings.

 

Matthew G. Lewis was only 20 when, in March 1796, he first published The Monk, a cornerstone of the Gothic Novel. As acknowledged, the dreadful plot of The Monk was inspired by various popular myths from Germany, Denmark or Spain. Yet, its modern style and narrative format make it unique. It contains the classical ingredients of a Gothic novel such as black masses, underground tunnels, blood, sex and supernatural manifestations. Of course, the critics were outraged by the so-called depraved content of the book. In the meantime, it became hugely popular with the public. It crossed the English Channel as soon as Year V (1797, revolutionary style), where it gave birth to a play in 5 acts (Barda, Year VI)— “inspired by the English novel,” reads the title page. The novel itself was picked up by Claude-François Maradan (1762-1823), whose bookshop was, interestingly, located “rue du cimetière / Street of the Cemetery.” Until the publication of the famous catalogue of Gérard Oberlé, in 1972 (De Horace Walpole à Jean Ray. Romans gothiques anglais, romans noirs), most bibliophilists considered that the 4 in-16°-volume set of 1797, with 4 engravings, was the first French edition. However, Oberlé reminded that Maradan was always following the same pattern when it came to publishing a book; first, he would put out an in-12° edition without illustration; then he would put out an in-16° edition with some engravings. Le Moine was no exception. So that the 3 in-12°-volume set of 1797 is now believed to be the very first edition.

 

According to the National Library of France (BNF), Maradan became an apprentice in 1787, and a bookseller a few months later. He went bankrupt in 1790—probably because of the Revolution of 1789—and a next time in 1803; but he was still publishing books by 1819, as testified by an edition of Le Moine in 3 volumes that came out that very year. “He was probably related to the Parisian engraver François Maradan (1766-circa 1816),” reads the website of the BNF. Le Moine apparently sold quite well, since it was reprinted the same year; but this time with 4 engravings. The identity of the engraver is unknown. Did Maradan call upon his alleged relative from Paris, François? One thing is for sure, the engraver did a very good job. Gorgeous and attractive, the plates represent the most dramatic scenes from the book: Ambrosio trying to resist a half-naked nun, a bloody black mass held in an underground passage, a mysterious masked woman stepping out of a creepy castle, or the devil grabbing Ambrosio by the hair under a stormy sky.

 

The bookseller made sure the clients who had bought the first edition could upgrade their copy by buying the engravings separately; consequently, he featured the page numbers of both editions on them. In the top right-hand corner of the digitalized copy available at googlebooks, (AN V, 1797) the plate reads: “Tome 3e. in 12 Page...” And in the top left-hand corner: “Tome 4e”. The page number is also to be found in the bottom right-hand corner: “Page 186.” As a matter of fact, it is quite common to find the first edition bound with the engravings of the second one.

 

The ‘Inversed set’

 

Florian Balduc is a French bookseller and the head publisher of Otrante editions, who recently listed the various sets of engravings of Le Moine on his website. Indeed, when he compared the engravings, he realized that they vary from one edition to the other. Here are the ascertained sets:

 

 

1) The original one, featuring the page number of the second edition. “The most common,” says Florian Balduc.

2) The same set as above, featuring the page numbers of both the first and the second editions—so the buyers of the first edition could upgrade their copies.

3) The same set, with no page number at all, as reported by another bookseller.

4) The engravings of the edition of Year VI (1798), which are slightly different. “They are more ‘raw’ and certain parts have been drawn with less details.”

5) What we will call ‘the inversed set’, since the four plates are printed in reversed orientation. “I only know one copy in the world to feature these plates,” said Florian Balduc. “And it is the copy of the late Maurice Lévy.” In the early 1960s, Lévy, who was studying at La Sorbonne, went for three months to Virginia, USA. There, he read the entire Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction in order to complete his memoir entitled The English ‘Gothic’ Novel, 1764-1824. It “became a standard source and helped to revive scholarly interest in the field,” writes Nicole Bouché, Director of Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. “And Lévy became a recognized authority on the gothic genre. Maurice’s final work, a scholarly edition of Matthew Gregory Lewis’ classic gothic tale, The Monk, was published posthumously in 2012.”

 

Before he passed away in 2012, he bequeathed his collection—“which, although relatively modest in size when compared to others,” as he once described it, “has the advantage of illustrating the extraordinary vogue of the 'roman noir' during the French Revolutionary period”—to the Library of Virginia where he had enjoyed such a good time. Among these treasures are several French editions of Le Moine, including one with the reversed engravings. Of course, this detail didn’t escape Lévy’s scrutiny. “He was fascinated by the illustrations found in French Gothic novels,” writes David Whitesell on the website of the Library of Virginia, “and in 1973 he published a book on the subject, Images du roman noir.” According to Whitesell—who seems to still consider the 4 in-16° volume set as the first edition—, the success of the book took Maradan by surprise: “It is likely that the publisher, not anticipating the need for a second edition, neglected to save the copperplate and therefore had to commission a new plate of the same image.  In copying the original frontispiece (which printed in reverse orientation from the design as etched on the copperplate), the etcher necessarily reversed the image!” It makes sense, except that Maradan was used to put out a second in-16° edition of his publications; unless he had not anticipated the need for a second second edition.

 

Anyway, the plates are reversed so that the characters of the first one are walking in the opposite direction, the masked woman of the second one is right-handed, the nun is bleeding from the left arm on the third one, and on the last one, the devil is holding the parchment of Ambrosio’s damnation in his left hand, not in the right one. But there are other differences as well: the engravings have no frame and no page number, for instance. A simple number, from 1 to 4, indicates the volume they relate to, as they were the frontispieces of each volume. The captions, for their part, have remained the same. 


Posted On: 2016-07-31 16:55
User Name: wklimon

Neither the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction nor the Maurice Lévy Collection of French Gothic are at the "Library of Virginia" ( http://www.lva.virginia.gov ), but they are instead at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia ( http://small.library.virginia.edu ), where there is currently an exhibition of items from those collections: http://www.library.virginia.edu/blog/exhibits/fearsome-ink-the-english-gothic-novel-to-1830


Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>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.
  • <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 €

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