Les Trois Ages de l'Amour, by DIERES (fl. 1769-1795), avocat…

the dandy’s portfolio
DIERES (fl. 1769-1795), avocat à Rouen.

Les Trois Ages de l'Amour, ou le porte-feuille d’un petit-maitre. Paphos, ie Paris, Gaspard Menippe, 1769.

First edition? 8vo (185 x 110 mm), pp. [xxxvi], [37]-169, [1], [9] table of contents and errata, uncut throughout with some browning and dampstaining in text, in the original drab boards, rather scuffed and worn at extremities, paper label missing, evidence of shelf mark label at foot of spine also missing, wanting the free endpapers, small unidentified stamped monogram on A2.

A scarce epistolary novel which examines the types and nature of love through a selection of episodes narrated by an abundance of characters. Attributed to an obscure lawyer from Rouen, this is erotic fiction presented as scientific abstract, with titles, divisions and subdivisions suggesting a philosophy of love in an attempt to ennoble this loosely connected collection of licentious stories. As the title suggests, the work is divided into three parts, for the ‘three ages’ of love: when love is young, when it enters middle age and finally when it reaches decrepitud: ‘le tems où l’Amour se déclare; celui de son progrès; celui de son déclin’ (Avertissement, p. 49). After a wide-ranging preface, the introductory material begins with ‘Naissance de ce Porte-Feuille’ (pp. xiii-xxxi), signed by Le Milord Sédrei, and ‘Dessein de cet Ouvrage’, which is presented in two parts, ‘Définition de l’Amour; distinction de deux Amours, & déclaration d’Amour de chacun des deux sexes’ and ‘Division générale ou les trois âges de l’Amour’. The introduction concludes with Letter VI, M. Méabbe à M. Ozime, under the subtitle ‘Le Temple de l’Amour. Songe’, where the author of the letter is awoken from his dream by a kiss from his his mistress Rosette. The first part, ‘L’Amour dans son enfance’, begins with an illustration of the phrase ‘Les influences de l’Amour sur un coeur’, in a letter from M. d’Ormeville to a friend, in which he describes his sixteen year old lover, the daughter of a famous actress.
There appear to have been two distinct editions published by Gaspard Menippe in 1769 under the same imprint. MMF and Gay both cite an edition with pp. xxxvi, 107 and have no mention of this edition, while OCLC locates four copies of this edition and none of the other. On the traditional assumption that the longer pagination should have priority - given the ease of resetting from text rather than manuscript - that would suggest this to be the first printing. The work was later expanded by M. de Jouy and published as a continuation of his Galerie des femmes, Amsterdam [Paris], 1802.
Gay is fairly damning of this work: ‘Scènes à tiroir. Série de lettres écrit par des personnages à noms bizarres. Livre mal fait’. The names are a little bizarre, but the text is none the worse for being peopled with lovers called ‘Mademoiselle Xiphaa’, ‘ma chère Yxi’, M. de Walfonze, Fanaol and Amévine, Vimarak, Paswau and Ravoul. The latter’s exploits include scaling the walls of a convent and obtaining the keys to the dormitory, in the true tradition of Clerico-Galante fiction.

OCLC lists Bodleian, Linkoping, Dresden and Penn State (citing this edition, that cited by MMF and Gay not in OCLC).

Cioranescu 24962; see MMF 69.32; Gay III, 1268 (both citing an edition of pp. xxxvi, 107).

Keywords: Continental Books
Print this page View basket Price: £1,200.00