London: Printed for John Watts, 1732. Item #03213
“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends,
and then for money.” (Molière)
First Landmark Collected Edition In English and French
MOLIERE, Jean Baptiste Poquelin de. Select Comedies of Mr. De Moliere. French and English. In eight volumes with a frontispiece to each Comedy. London: Printed for John Watts, 1732.
First collected edition in English and French, published eighteen years after the 1714 six volume first English edition.
Eight small octavo volumes (6 1/2 x 3 3/4 inches; 164 x 95 mm.). Titles printed in red and black. Engraved portrait frontispiece in volume one and seventeen engraved frontispiece plates (one for each play).
Full contemporary sprinkled calf, covers double-ruled in blind, spines with five raised bands, maroon morocco gilt lettering labels, decorated board edges. Each volume with a neat contemporary ink inscription "Marie Synge son Livre". Some light wear to a few joints but overall a near fine and quite remarkable set in its original calf binding.
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Moliere, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Moliere's best-known works are Le Misantrope (The Man-Hater), L'Ecole des Femmes (The School for Wives), Tartuffe, ou L'Imposteur (Tartuffe, or the Impostor), L'Avare (The Miser), Le Malade Imaginaire (The Hypochondriack) and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (The CIT Turn'd Gentleman).
As the most successful comic dramatist at the court of Louis XIV, Molière was certainly known to his London counterparts. During his early acting years in a touring troupe, the English theatres had been closed by the Civil Wars, but after 1660 viable plays were in great demand, and Molière was translated almost at once. Dryden, Behn, Fielding and many others took him up. All the same, his plays only began to be printed in English as immutable classics from around 1732 when a landmark edition was published in parallel text.
The Seventeen Comedies included in this edition:
L'Avare / The Miser
Sganarelle ou Le Cocu Imaginaire / The Cuckold in Conceit
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme / The CIT Turn'd Gentleman
Le Medecin Malgre Lui / A Doctor and No Doctor
L'Etourdi ou les Contre-Tems / The Blunderer: or the Counter-Plots
Les Precieuses Ridicules / The Conceited Ladies
L'Ecole des Maris / The School for Husbands
L'Ecole des Femmes / The School for Wives
Tartuffe, ou L'Imposteur / Tartuffe, or the Impostor
George Dandin ou le Mari Confondu / George Dandin, or the Husband Defeated
Le Misantrope / The Man-Hater
Monsieur de Pourceaugnac / Squire Lubberly
Amphitrion / Amphitryon
Le Mariage Forcé / The Forc'd Marriage
Le Sicilien: ou L'Amour Peintre / The Sicilian: or, Love makes a Painter
Le Malade Imaginaire / The Hypochondriack
Les Fascheux / The Impertinents.