L’Enfantement de Jupiter, by HUERNE DE LA MOTHE, François-Charles (18th…

‘I want to be my original and my imitation... [Rousseau] I take you for my Mentor’
HUERNE DE LA MOTHE, François-Charles (18th cent).

L’Enfantement de Jupiter, ou la Fille Sans Mère. Première [-Seconde] Partie. Amsterdam [ie Paris?], 1763.

First Edition. 12mo (165 x 90 mm), pp. [iv], 239, [1]; [iv], 170, both half-titles present, engraved headpieces to both parts carefully coloured in yellow, in contemporary pale polished calf, triple gilt filets to upper and lower covers, an unusual treatment of the calf resulting in a pattern of very thin lines, small surface tear on the front board and some staining on the lower board, spine attractively gilt in compartments with floral tooling, red morocco label lettered in gilt ‘La Fille sans Mere’, marbled endpapers, binder’s ticket and possibly bookplate removed, red edges and green silk marker.

A scarce imitation of Rousseau featuring a feisty heroine of uncertain birth. Written in autobiographical style, the novel parodies the memoir-novels topping the best-seller lists of the time such as Marivaux' Vie de Marianne. It is a romantic adventure story, satirical and conversational in tone, recounting the travels and adventures of Margot des Pelotons, 'une fille du peuple'. The story begins, traditionally enough, with a humorous account of the circumstances of her birth and proceeds to a description of the three claimants to the title of 'mother', including an explanation of the origins of her rather strange name. Alongside the narrative of Margot's life, her amorous adventures and exploits, Huerne de la Mothe sustains a commentary, partly sub-textual, on the genre of the novel. A footnote early in the novel explains that all philosophical maxims in italics are taken either from Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Héloïse or from his Émile.

'Je ne prends point pour modéle de l'Histoire de ma vie, ni la sage Pamela qui avoit pere & mere, ni la prude Cécile... Je ne prends point pour original ni la Paysanne à vertus postiches, ni la Marianne au vernis philosophique; la vérité ne me plait que dans sa nudité. Enfin, je ne prétends point me comparer à la tendre Julie du Philosophe de Genève, dont le coeur étoit aussi voluptueux que le mien... Je veux être seule mon original & ma copie. J'aime le naturel... A moi! mon cher J.... J.... R.... je vous prends pour mon Mentor'.

Another edition was published later the same year with a ‘Londres & Paris’ imprint and it subsequently appeared under the title Histoire nouvelle de Margot des Pelotons, ou la galanterie naturelle, Geneva 1775 and 1776.

Outside Continental Europe, OCLC lists BL, Yale, McGill.

MMF 63.32; Cioranescu 34283; Gay II, 568.

Keywords: Biography
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