Fragmens de lettres originales; by ORLEANS, Charlotte-Elisabeth de Bavière, duchesse…

ORLEANS, Charlotte-Elisabeth de Bavière, duchesse d’ (1652-1722).

Fragmens de lettres originales; de Madame Charlotte-Elizabeth de Bavière, Veuve de Monsieur, Frère unique de Louis XIV, Ecrites à S.A.S. Monseigneur le Duc Antoine-Ulric de B** W****, & à S.A.R. Madame la Princesse de Galles, Caroline, née Princesse d’Anspach. De 1715 à 1720. Tome Premier [-Second]. Hamburg [ie Paris?], Maradan, 1788.

First Edition in French. Two volumes 12mo (181 x 105 mm), pp. [xvi] 262, [ii], 299 [i] blank, [3] advertisements, half title and final page of the second volume used as pastedowns, uncut throughout, in the original royal blue wrappers, paper labels at head of spines, lettered in ink in a contemporary hand, blue shelfmark labels at foot of spine (possibly later), covers a bit creased and some pages dog-eared, with manuscript booklet (4to 225 x 185 mm, pp [6], [2] blank) loosely enclosed.

The scarce first appearance in French of selected letters by the Princess Palatine, known variously as ‘Madame’, ‘Duchesse d’Orléans’, ‘Liselotte von der Pfalz’ and through her many royal descendants known as ‘the grandmother of Europe’. The second wife of Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, Louis XIV’s younger brother, she holds a firm place in literary history through her extensive correspondence which paints an unadorned and unfiltered portrait of the French court, its politics and sexual intrigues. In all, she is thought to have written some 60,000 letters, putting her considerably ahead of Madame de Sevigné for sheer volume. Written originally in German and translated here by Joseph de Maimeux (1753-1820), it remains one of the best-known German language texts of the Baroque. Often compared to Saint Simon, another prolific witness of the court of the sun king, Saint-Beuve wrote of her correspondence as ‘précieux et incomporable témoin de moeurs’, speaking of the importance and originality of her voice: ‘il manquerait à cette Cour une figure et une parole des plus originales, si ell n’y était pas’.
The present copy, which is uncut in the original blue wrappers with manuscript spine label, has a loosely inserted manuscript booklet of six pages, ‘Extraits de Lettres Originales, en Allemand, de Madame Charlotte-Elisabeth d’Orléans, veuve de Philippe d’Orléans, écrites au Duc Antoine-Ulric de Brunswick-Wolffenbutel, et à la Princesse de Galles, Caroline, née Princesse d’Anspach. Les originales sont dans les archives de x.x.-x.x.x. Brunsvic’, which contains a fair copy of extracts from other letters not included.

Keywords: Continental Books
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