London: “The Walpole Press”, 1899. Item #00839
Grand Edition De Luxe
Of the Classic on Sexuality and Gender Identity
With Nineteen Etchings
[WALPOLE PRESS, The]. GAUTIER, Théophile. Mademoiselle de Maupin. Nineteen Etchings. London: “The Walpole Press,” 1899.
Grand Edition De Luxe. Limited to 1,000 numbered copies (of which this is copy No. 33) on Japanese vellum. Two octavo volumes (8 9/16 x 5 9/16 inches; 218 x 138 mm.). Nineteen etchings. This edition of Mademoiselle de Maupin has been completely translated by I.G. Burnham. The etchings are by Francois-Xavier Le Sueur and drawing by Édouard Toudouze.
Contemporary blue cloth. Covers ruled in gilt, spines lettered in gilt, top edge gilt, others uncut. A fine copy.
Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835-1836), a novel by Théophile Gautier, “whose ‘Préface’ is better known than the novel itself as a manifesto of l’art pour l’art. The novel was, however, much admired by Baudelaire and Balzac, and by fin-de-siècle writers and artists, both in France and elsewhere, as a pure expression of dilettantish and dandyish aestheticism and eroticism.
"It is destined to attract new readers because of its surprising and complex play with narrative procedures and with gender roles and identities. Gautier’s refusal to let anything be what it appears was obviously part of his enfant-terrible strategy to confuse and scandalize the flat-footed, moralizing bourgeois and humanitarian readers he stigmatized so wittily in his ‘Préface’. In alternating epistolary and third-person forms, the novel shows the hero d’Albert as in turn melancholic and idealistic, cynical and libertine (but always narcissistic), and above all desperate to break out of solipsism and monotony and find true beauty embodied in corporeal form.
"Based on the strange adventures of the 17th-c. bisexual Madeleine de Maupin, who dressed and behaved like a swashbuckling swordsman and horseman, Gautier’s novel, in conscious imitation of As You Like It, plays on the erotic attractions and misunderstandings of a young foursome” (The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French).