Le Solitaire Anglois, by LONGUEVILLE, Peter (fl. 1727).

LONGUEVILLE, Peter (fl. 1727).

Le Solitaire Anglois, ou Avantures Merveilleuses de Philippe Quarll. Par Mr. Dorrington. Traduit de l’Anglois. Paris, Ganeau and Cavelier, 1729.

Second Edition in French. 12mo (160 x 90 mm), 24mo, (118 x 75 mm), frontispiece and a folding map of the island (160 x 115 mm), pp. [xii], 368, [4] approbation &c., some light browning particularly in the final part of the text, in contemporary speckled calf, spine gilt in compartments, red morocco label lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers (small tear to surface: booklabel possibly removed), red edges.

A lovely copy of a rare edition of this famous imaginary voyage, first published in 1727 as The Hermit; or, the Unparalled Sufferings and Surprising Adventures of Mr Philip Quarll, an Englishman. Who was lately discovered by Mr Dorrington, a Bristol Merchant, upon an uninhabited island in the South Sea, where he has lived above fifty years, London, 1727. The first of a storm of French editions was published by Jean Daniel Beman in Rotterdam in 1728 and it was included in the fourth volume of Garnier’s Voyages imaginaires, 1787.
Considered to be one of the best of the English imitations of Robinson Crusoe, The English Hermit was staggeringly popular, not only in England, but throughout Europe and in America. Alternately attributed to Edward Dorrington and Alexander Bicknell, the identity of the author remained unknown until Arundell Esdaile discovered a rare edition in which the dedication was signed ‘Peter Longueville’. His hypothesis was that Longueville, angered by the publishers’ alteration of his original and their invention of Edward Dorrington, privately published his own edition in which he denounced the false changes.
Dottin described this once seminal work as a ‘genre hybride - à mi-chemin entre le récit d’aventures philosophiques et le conte de fées’. Its popularity as an adventure story is woven into the fabric of literature: George Crabbe ranked it with the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress as books to be found in rural homes, while Thomas Day, Charles Lamb and Dickens all mention it in their writings. In Martin Chuzzlewit, John Westlock describes the disorder of his chambers as ‘the sort of impromptu arrangements that might have suggested themselves to Philip Quarll or Robinson Crusoe’. It is one of those works that strangely vanished from the canon having achieved what seemed like immortality for over a century.
Another aspect of its hybrid nature is that this work managed to appeal both to adult and child audiences. This edition of the full text is clearly aimed at a youth or adult audience, but the story was seized on by publishers of children’s books in England such as Marshall, who published a spate of small format abridged editions for children, accompanied by charming woodcut illustrations.

Hartig p. 44; Gove pp. 262-268; Rochedieu p. 195; see also Gumuchian 2415 and Osborne I 277.

OCLC lists BN, Lyon, Bodleian, Leeds, Indiana, Harvard, Michigan and John Carter Brown

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