Rare texts and images from early modern France

Ex libris Georges Ascoli

Earlier this year, I was following via the Internet a book auction held in Génicourt, a village northwest of Paris. Having bid successfully on a … Continue reading

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Succession in Barneville

At the beginning of Madame d’Aulnoy’s fairy tale “The White Cat,” an aging and timorous king sets up a winner-take-all competition between his sons: “whichever … Continue reading

August 8, 2022
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The first German translation of Les Contes des fées

A longstanding scholarly consensus holds that German translations of Madame d’Aulnoy’s fairy tales did not appear until the second half of the eighteenth century, starting … Continue reading

February 20, 2022
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Pierre-Daniel Huet in New York

This year should not go by without a brief salute to Pierre-Daniel Huet (1630-1721), the Norman polymath who was one of the most brilliant and … Continue reading

December 31, 2021
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Madame d’Aulnoy and Monsieur le Premier

As biographers have occasionally pointed out, Madame d’Aulnoy was related on the maternal side to one of the most prominent families at the French royal … Continue reading

November 7, 2021
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Baroness or Countess d’Aulnoy?

Among the many mysteries surrounding the life and works of Madame d’Aulnoy is the question of her title of nobility: was she a baroness or … Continue reading

October 25, 2021
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Sentiments of a penitent soul

Laidronnette, the noble but ugly heroine of Madame d’Aulnoy’s fairy tale “Serpentin vert,” begs her royal parents to “allow her to go and shut herself … Continue reading

January 11, 2021
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Anne Le Fèvre Dacier in America

The summer of 1720 in France brought not only an outbreak of bubonic plague in Marseille and the economically disastrous bursting of John Law’s Mississippi … Continue reading

August 11, 2020
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Madame d’Aulnoy’s productive confinement

According to many critics today, Madame d’Aulnoy’s contes des fées originated in the sociable setting of her salon. Jack Zipes, the doyen of American fairy-tale … Continue reading

May 2, 2020

The autograph and its double

As Voltaire once remarked (or was it Winston Churchill?), forgery surely is the world’s second-oldest profession. This universal truth is confirmed by the history of … Continue reading

December 30, 2019

The birth and beginnings of Madame d’Aulnoy

Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, baronne d’Aulnoy, died in Paris on January 13, 1705 – this has been known for a long time. But when … Continue reading

March 29, 2019

More Madame d’Aulnoy

Six months ago this blog presented the very rare first edition of Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy’s Les Contes des fées, of which a complete set (including engraved … Continue reading

October 17, 2018
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Barnett redivivus

In the spring of 2001, while surveying the scholarship on the mysterious Lettres portugaises, I encountered an annoying bibliographical redundancy: a seemingly new article by … Continue reading

June 13, 2018

Les Contes des fées

The term “fairy tale” originated in 1697, when Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, baronne d’Aulnoy, gave the title Les Contes des fées to her first … Continue reading

April 10, 2018

Bussy-Rabutin’s Book of Hours

On July 1, 1909, Edouard Rahir, the Paris bookseller and bibliographer, visited John Pierpont Morgan, the New York banker and collector, at his London residence … Continue reading

March 17, 2018
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Marie-Madeleine Perrault (1674-1701)

This is no fairy tale but a true story. It is based on archival sources that have lain dormant for centuries and, to my knowledge, … Continue reading

December 31, 2017
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Rubens and the King of France

This summer, the Prado Museum in Madrid hosted the exhibition Tesoros de la Hispanic Society of America: Visiones del mundo hispánico. Among the 200 objects … Continue reading

October 1, 2017
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Only in Lyon

Later this month, the North American Society for Seventeenth-Century French Literature (NASSCFL) will gather in Lyon for its 47th annual conference, devoted to the theme Literature, … Continue reading

June 11, 2017
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Ex bibliotheca R. Toinet

Raymond Toinet (1843-1936) was a lawyer from the town of Tulle in central France. In 1880, he was one among several hundred Catholic magistrates who … Continue reading

April 14, 2017
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Saving Madame de Graffigny

2016 saw the successful completion of a 40-year project: the publication of the Correspondance of Françoise de Graffigny (1695-1758), famous in her time – and … Continue reading

March 8, 2017
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A letter from Racine to Boileau

Many American libraries along the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Washington D.C. and beyond, preserve outstanding autograph collections whose riches remain to be fully explored. … Continue reading

February 20, 2017
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In effigiem Caroli Patin

Claude Lefebvre (1632-1675) was his generation’s leading portrait painter, perhaps best known today for the portrait of Jean-Baptiste Colbert that he presented as his reception … Continue reading

February 9, 2017
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