Il finto Cavaliere by ARGENS, Jean-Baptiste le Boyer, marquis d'…

‘Olla potrida d’Amouretti, e di Filosofia’
ARGENS, Jean-Baptiste le Boyer, marquis d' (1704-1771).
CHIARI, Pietro, translator (1712-1785).

Il finto Cavaliere o siano le Memorie di Madamigella di Mainville Scritte dal Marchese d’Argens, e per la prima volta Tradotte dal Francese. Venice, Locatelli, 1767.

First Edition in Italian. 8vo, engraved frontispiece and pp. [iii]-xvi, CXCVII, [8] advertisements, occasional light browning in text, uncut throughout in contemporary white paste-paper boards, spine lettered in ink, remains of library shelf label at foot of spine, early ownership inscription crossed out on front paste down and some faded manuscript notes.

A good copy of this scarce Italian translation of the Marquis d’Argens’ lively and risqué novel, first published as Mémoires de Mademoiselle de Mainville, ou le Feint Chevalier, La Haye 1736. The eponymous heroine runs away from home in order to avoid being married against her will or sent to a convent. Accompanied by her lover, who refuses to let her go without him and promises solemnly to respect her honour, the two travel together as brother and sister. However, her beauty attracts too much attention and the so-called siblings keep getting into trouble, so our heroine decides to dress as a man in order that the two might travel in safety. ‘Après avoir bien rêvé, ils n’en trouvérent pas de meilleur, que celui de déguiser le sexe de Mademoiselle de Mainville. Elle en comprit elle-même toute la nécessité, & résolut de s’habiller en homme. Dans ce nouvel état, elle parut encore plus belle. Jamais cavalier ne fut d’une figure si aimable & si propre à troubler le repos des Dames’ (I, 32). For a while, they frequent gambling circles where they are very succesful, until an argument lands them in a duel, after which she is arrested and taken to jail. On their travels they meet engagingly louche characters, such as a famous debauched opium addict, numerous swindlers in different guises and a duchess who ‘simply adores opera’.
With a witty dedication to the shadow of Bayle in which d’Argens regrets that he is unable to dedicate a more serious work than a novel to him, rather than this ‘Pot-pourri d’Amourettes & de Philosophie’ [‘Olla potrida d’Amouretti, e di Filosofia’]. Were he less lazy, and less amorous, he would have finished his Doutes Metaphysiques [‘Dubbj Metafisici’], but in nine months he has barely managed to write three pages. He has therefore let his imagination dictate to his pen and, instead of the words ‘existence’ and ‘determinism’, he has focused on those of ‘Bachus’, ‘pleasure’ and ‘love’.

See Cioranescu 8306; not in OCLC.

Keywords: Continental Books
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