Le Soupé des petits-maîtres, Ouvrage Moral. Première [-Seconde] Partie. ‘Londres’, ie Paris, circa 1772.
First Edition. 12mo (164 x 90 mm), pp. xxiv, -144; vi, -104, text damp-stained and browned in part, in a modern pastiche binding of blue quarter calf over blue boards, spine gilt in compartments, lettered in gilt, inscribed in a contemporary hand on both title-pages ‘Cte de Cunha, Liva de Bulhaco
The very rare first edition of one of the most popular funny books of the French eighteenth century which saw at least half a dozen reprints in the eighteenth century and was reprinted by Pierre-Charles Monselet in 1881. The introductory material - introduction, épitre dédicatoire, envoi and avant-propos - describe with gusto the final stages of the work's production. Reading aloud to himself the final phrases of his work, an abbot, looking like a four-foot doll, smiles at the charm of his own work and at how popular it will be with the ladies. He preens himself happily before visiting a young countess to whom he begs leave to dedicate the work.
The work itself is a series of tales and anecdotes, romantic stories interwoven with satirical comment and brief comic interludes, very much like a modern day comedy show with improvisations and narrative serials. The titles of the various chapters give some idea as to the satirical, lively and mildly libertine nature of the work: 'le Labyrinthe', 'le faux Milord', 'le Malade Imaginaire', 'l'Actrice de Province raconte son Histoire', 'Des Boudoirs consacrés à la Volupté' and 'Des Boudoirs consacrés à l'Intérêt'.
'Cet ouvrage moral est le récit d'une partie fine, où chacun raconte son histoire. Les personnages s'appellent Persac, Sainval, le Président, la Bouquetière, la Marchande, la Danseuse, etc. C'est très gai', says Gay, adding, that Cailhava had so much success with the work that he almost immediately reissued it under the title Le Soupé, conte moral.
MMF 70.32; Gay III 1139 (a detailed entry: 'livre rare et curieux pour l'histoire des moeurs du XVIII siècle'). Neither Cioranescu (who lists a Soupir, ouvrage moral, Londres 1772, no. 15126) nor Quérard, who calls Cailhava 'un des meilleurs auteurs comiques de son temps', list this work.
ESTC t1330851, listing the British Library, Taylorian and Illinois only. A later edition is also listed under the title Le Soupé, ouvrage moral, [1780?], at the Taylorian and Stanford only.