Lisvart de Grèce, Roman de Chevalerie; ou Suite d’Amadis de Gaule. Par M. de Mayer. Tome Premier [-Cinquième]. Amsterdam, 1788.
First Edition. Five volumes, 12mo, (139 x 78mm), pp. [iv], xii, 298, with four leaves of engraved music; [iv], 334, with one leaf of engraved music; [iv], 314, with three leaves of engraved music; [iv], 309, with two leaves of engraved music; [iv], 330, with two leaves of engraved music (a total of 12 leaves of engraved music), in contemporary pale mottled calf, the boards coloured with a red pigment leaving the spines pale but speckled (I don’t think they are just faded), green morocco labels lettered and numbered in gilt, flat spines gilt in compartments, simple tooled border to covers, dark blue endpapers, gilt edges.
An attractive set of a scarce chivalric romance by Charles Joseph de Mayer, mostly remembered for his impressive Cabinet des fées, a forty-one volume collection of fairy tales published between 1785 and 1789. The present novel, intended as a continuation of Tressan’s version of Amadis de Gaul, published in 1779, follows the adventures of Lisvart, the son of the Emperor of Constantinople. In keeping with Mayer’s interest in the fairy tale, Lisvart de Grèce includes plenty of fantastical sequences alongside the chivalric. In a fascinating introduction, in which Mayer talks of his involvement with Tressan in the Bibliothèque universelle des romans and discusses the state of French literature, he advises readers to start by reading Tressan’s work before moving on to his continuation, to save confusion between the different characters and generations. He suggests that this is a good time to publish the romances of chivalry, to restore a little French colour into a literature that has of late been besieged by translations from the English and the German. Following the lead of Tressan, Mayer has also attempted to update the genre to make it more accessible to a contemporary audience.
‘J’ai cru devoir imiter le Comte de Tressan... supprimer, ajouter, créer, polir, substituer, arrondir, & rapprocher un peu de nos tems & de nos mœurs la scene ancienne & le vieux théâtre; briser enfin le verre d’un tableau de lanterne magique, pour faire des tableaux vrais & les portraits ressemblans... Je devrois peut-être faire observer que le moment de mettre en lumière les Romans de Chevalerie est plus favorable qu’on ne feroit tenté de le croire. Depuis quelques années, la France ne reçoit & ne lit que des traductions de Romans Anglois, & des fictions prises dans les Auteurs Allemands: il me semble que toutes nos couleurs soient épuisées... il paroît même que les teintes légeres réussiroient; car nos passions paroissent entierement purgées de cette maniere noire qui a marqué nos Romans’ (pp. vi-x).
The novel is accompanied by a sequence of twelve songs, which accompany the text on engraved plates in which both words and musical score are given. These are composed by Pierre-Jean Porro (1750-1831), the influential composer and guitarist. Following the novel are two short stories by Mayer, Amours de Guillaume de St.- Vallier, Troubadour, (V, 255-294) and Amours de Jeanne, Reine de Jérusalem, de Naples, de Sicile, Comtesse de Provence; Roman Historique, (V, 295-330).
OCLC lists DLC and Cleveland Public Library only.
Cioranescu 44113; MMF 88:91.