La Berlue. by POINSINET DE SIVRY, Louis (1733-1804).

POINSINET DE SIVRY, Louis (1733-1804).

La Berlue. ‘Londres’, i.e. Paris, 1759.

First Edition? 18mo (124 x 70 mm), pp. x, 166, marginal tear to A2, with loss of upper margin, repaired, just touching the ‘R’ of ‘Epitre’ on the verso, title-page printed in red and black within decorative border, with central bird ornament, in later quarter vellum over patterned boards, spine neatly lettered in red ink.

A scarce edition, possibly the first, of this jeux d'esprit by Poinsinet de Sivry. The phrase 'j'ai la berlue' translates roughly as 'I must be seeing things'; the title here serves to introduce the piercing sight of the author. Born in the middle of the night and kept in a darkened room for the first three weeks of his life, the author is free from that false sight which characterises most human beings. Therefore, in an age of telescopes, lunettes and microscopes, he alone possesses unimpeded natural sight. 'Les uns cherchent dans la lune des habitans qui n'y sont pas, les autres croient dans une mouche des beautés que le microscope y met; les Egyptiens trouvent Dieu dans un oignon; les Romains prennent l'amour-propre pour la vertu; les Zulins, le libertinage pour la liberté, la débauche pour la volupté. Le monde a-t'-il les yeux bien clarifiés?' (pp. 13-14). The dedication (signed 'XRDGISKNPMBF') is to the 'illustrious eagle', king of airy space whose vision pierces the clouds.
ESTC lists three different ‘Londres 1759’ editions. Priority has not been established, but the old adage of the greater number of pages would suggest this to be the first. Cioranescu gives priority to ESTC t200360 (pp. x, 124) which is held at the Taylorian, Texas and four copies at the BN. ESTC t230225 (pp. [vi], 160) is the scarcest of the three, with only two copies listed, at the Sorbonne and Toronto. The present edition, ESTC t128931 (pp. x, 166), is at the BL, Cambridge, Bodleian, Taylorian; two copies at the BN, four copies in Poland and Wisconsin-Madison, UCLA and Maryland only in America. The work later appeared as La Berlue, ou Nouvelles découvertes sur l’optique, Londres, 1760.

See Cioranescu 50761; Gay I 376.

Keywords: Continental Books
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