Londres [Paris]: Chez Jean Osborne [Didot], 1742. Item #01915
First Complete Edition in French
Of the First English Novel
Not Seen at Auction in Seventy Years
[RICHARDSON, Samuel]. Paméla, ou la vertu recompensée. Traduit de l'anglais. Londres [Paris]: Chez Jean Osborne [Didot], 1742.
First complete edition, first printing in French of Richardson's classic epistolary novel integrating his sequel, Pamela's Conduct in High Life, translated by F.-A. Aubert de la Chesnaye des Bois (erroneously attributed to Abbé Prevost). Four twelvemo volumes (6 7/16 x 3 3/4 in; 165 x 94 mm). xxiii, , 271, ; , 324; , 298; , 302 pp. Two leaves from the end of Volume III have been mis-bound into the last signature of Volume IV.
Full contemporary French mottled calf with blind ruled border. The spine features five gilt-tooled raised bands separating six compartments with an unusual gilt floral tool of a lily with eight leaves and central annular dot, within a double-fillet frame with foliate sprigs as corner pieces. Maroon spine labels lettered in gilt, the Volume labels decorated with gilt roseates with lateral floral volutes above and below the lettering in gilt. Original French marbled endpapers. All edges stained red. Original green bookmark ribbons. Oval stain (1 3/4 x 1 1/4 in.) to upper board of volume four, otherwise an absolutely stunning copy, tight, bright and clean inside and out.
First complete edition in French of what is considered to be the first novel in English by the Father of the English novel, Samuel Richardson, the translation traditionally attributed to Abbé Prevost but later scholarship has shown it to be the work of François-Alexandre Aubert de la Chesnaye des Bois, a defrocked Capuchin monk who was the compiler and author of many books, including Lettres amusantes et critiques sur les romans en général (1743).
The last copy of this, the first complete edition in French, to come to auction was, according to ABPC, seventy years ago, in 1941. Only nine complete copies are known to exist: the ESTC records only eight, and NUC records one other.
Richardson wrote Pamela (1740) at the suggestion of booksellers Rivington and Osborn. "The book was highly successful and fashionable, and further editions were soon called for. Richardson felt obliged to continue his story, not only because of the success of Pamela but because of the number of forged continuations that began to appear. Pamela Part II appeared in 1741" (Oxford Companion to English Literature).
"A translation of Pamela into French, 4 vols., duodecimo, with imprint 'A Londres, chez Jean Osborne...M.DCC.XLII' was published shortly after the appearance of Vols. III and IV in English. The translator was the Abbé Prevost (?). It was offered for sale in France before Jan 12, 1742, when fifty copies were seized from Guerin's. Apparently it was later sold with the tacit consent of the authorities. The price was six livres, stitched" (Sale, Samuel Richardson: A Bibliographical Record, p. 29).
The correct place of publication, Paris, and publisher, Didot was discovered in a leaf of ads from an incomplete copy at the British Library that lists various Didot publications for sale.
An earlier translation of Parts I and II of Pamela appeared in 1741, in all likelihood by Chesnaye des Bois, as well. "This French edition was published after the fifth English edition, at the time when Richardson was begining to revise his text for the handsome octavo edition of the novel. According to the preface of the translator in Volume I, Richardson furnished him with a small number of additions and corrections for the text" (Ibid, p. 16). And in the edition under notice, the translation for the first two parts has been revised by Chesnaye de Bois per Richardson and the sequel has been translated for the first time.
Sale 15n (p. 29). Rochedieu, pp. 279-80.