Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2016 Issue

The Last of The Monks

The Last of the Reversed Ones.


Whitesell tells about the first frontispiece only. But we learnt about the three next ones thanks to another bibliophilist, who happily popped in our discussion with Florian Balduc: “I know of another ‘inversed set’ copy,” he rejoiced. “My own!” Then, he posted some pictures. And guess what, he had never noticed this detail before! So, just as we thought that there was no more copies of this surprising set on the French soil, we were proven wrong! A closer examination of this miraculous edition showed that, although it was indeed published in Year V (1797), it is totally different from the so-called “second edition” with the regular engravings: fewer pages (185 for the second volume of the regular edition, only 170 for the inversed one), different drop caps, different alignments of letters, and different printing defects. So Maradan printed a third edition in 1797, and illustrated it with these ‘inversed’ frontispieces—or was it the real second edition? It is obvious, anyway, that there were three editions of Le Moine in the course of the Year V (1797). On his website, Florian Balduc states: “This last set is different but contrary to the one used for the Year VI (1798) edition—where the engraving is more ‘raw’—, this one, though less ‘detailed’, is ‘richer’, and features some details absent from the others. Could it be, in fact, the very first set of these engravings?” That’s a possibility, indeed.


There are many other obscure facts about the French editions of The Monk. Let’s mention the Favre edition of 1797, to start with; which came out under the title Le Jacobin espagnol / The Spanish Jacobin. It is a set of 4 in-16° volumes, and it comes with 4 engravings too—but they have nothing in common with the Maradan’s. This is a redacted version, with not a supernatural manifestation left. The book even ends up well, with a marriage! Furthermore, Ambrosio meets his death in a very conventional way—exit the most terrible scene of the book, when the devil comes to fetch him in his cell to buy his soul! Apparently, this edition was successful as well, and it was reprinted the following year—it has become very rare. It was never a problem for booksellers to rework a book, adding, removing or rewriting entire passages. Translation was no art, and there was nothing sacred with writing novels. As a matter of fact, Lewis was the first one to censor his work. When the book was first published, “the committees of morality were outraged,” reads the notes of a modern edition of Le Moine (Gallimard Folio, 1966). “Lewis and his publisher were sued and Lewis condemned to expunge the third edition of The Monk. (...) We may wonder if his homosexuality was not responsible for his very complying submission. He probably didn’t want the police to enquire about his morality, fearing he might face public dishonour.”


In France, Maradan decided to change a few details. The monk is not a Capuchin anymore but a Dominican, for example, etc. That’s why Antonin Artaud, who gave a translation of the book in the early 20th century, thought that the only reliable translation was Léon de Wailly’s, published in 1840 (Paris, chez Dellaye). He could not praise it less, he who, as confessed to a friend in April 1933, could “hardly read English at all. ” (Gallimard, 1966). In fact, he more or less reworked Wailly’s version to come up with something, which, he says in his forewords, “is neither a translation nor an adaptation (...) but some sort of French copy of the original text.”


This book was so powerful that it somewhat ate up its own author. First, Lewis became known as “Monk” Lewis. Then, in 1808, after several mediocre publications, he wrote in the forewords of Venoni: “The act of composing has ceased to amuse me; I feel like I am not likely to write better than I have done already.” Later on, “Monk” Lewis inherited two sugar plantations in Jamaica from his deceased father, and he went twice there, dying at sea on his way back from his second voyage. The journal of his residence in Jamaica, The Journal of a West India Proprietor (London, 1834), remains his most interesting work after The Monk.


Thibault Ehrengardt


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

  • Bonhams, June 15-25: 18th Century American Sea Captain's Journals of Voyages to Hawaii, China, and South America. $35,000 - $45,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Autograph Diary from Bolling Advance Base, Winter 1934. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. $4,000 - $6,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Cellarius, Andreas. Harmonia macrocosmica seu atlas universalis et novus, totius universi creati cosmographiam generalem, et novam exhibens. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Nobelist George Stigler's Copy of Ricardo's Classic on the Science of Economics. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris: F. L. Schmied, 1927. $15,000 - $20,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Fine Copy of Walras's Classic on the Theory of Marginal Utility. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Arion Press Moby Dick. Melville, Herman. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Venegas, Miguel. Noticia de la California, y desu conquista temporal, y espiritual hasta el tiempo presente. $7,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Carelton Watkins, Yosemite and the West. Portfolio of 21 imperial albumen prints. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: An Unpublished Archive of Thornton Wilder Correspondence to F.J. O'Neil. $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 15-25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. Suorum de humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. $100,000 - $150,000
  • Bonhams, June 25: Vesalius, Andreas. 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. $200,000 - $300,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Gersdorff, Hans Von. 1455-1529. Feldtbuch der wundartzney. $40,000 - $60,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Pare, Ambroise. C.1509-1590. La Methode Curative des Playes, et Fractures de la Teste humaine. Avec les pourtraits des Instruments necessaires pour la curation d'icelles. $25,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Reisch, Gregor. 1470-1525. Margarita Philosophica. $20,000 - $30,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bright, Richard. 1789-1858. Reports of Medical Cases, Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy. $12,000 - $18,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Berengario da Carpi, Giacomo. C. 1460-1530. Tractatus de fractura calve sive cranei. $10,000 - $15,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Vicq D'Azyr, Felix. 1748-1794. Traite d'antomie et de physiologie. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Croce, Giovanni Andrea Della. 1509?-1775. Chirurgia libri septem... $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bruno Da Longburgo. 1200-1286. La cyrogia di Maistro Bruno: Expertissimo in quella. Tradutta in vulgare. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Schwann, Theodor. 1810-1882. Mikroskopische Untersuchungen uber die Ubereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Cowper, William. 1666-1709. The Anatomy of Humane Bodies, with Figures Drawn after the Life… $6,000 - $9,000
    Bonhams, June 25: Bidloo, Govard. 1649-1713. Anatomia humani corporis, centum & quinque tabulis, per artificiossis. G. de Lairesse ad vivum delineatis. $6,000 - $9,000
  • Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Keats, John] Spenser, Edmund: The Works of that Famous English Poet, Mr. Edmond Spenser. $50,000 - $80,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: (Walton, Izaak): The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Fish and Fishing. $30,000 - $50,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Thomas, Gabriel: An Historical and Geographical Account of the Province and Country of Pensilvania; and of West-New-Jersey in America. $25,000 - $35,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Carroll, Lewis]: The Game of Alice in Wonderland. $2,000 - $3,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: Athias, Joseph, et al.: Biblia Hebraica. $7,000 - $10,000.
    Freeman’s | Hindman, June 25: [Warhol, Andy, and Jens Quistgaard] Dansk Designs Salesman's Presentation Catalogue. $2,500 - $3,500.
  • Sotheby’s, June 26: Poe, Edgar Allan. Tamerlane — the most poignant rarity in American literature. 400,000 - 600,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: The Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." 2,500,000 - 5,000,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: William Blake. “Poems with very wild and interesting pictures” 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, June 26: Thomas Taylor [artist]. The original cover art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 400,000 - 600,000 USD

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions