London: H.S. Nichols, 1895. Item #03644
One of a Very Few Copies Printed on Japon Vellum
With the Nine Plates in Three States
FLAUBERT, Gustave. The Temptation of Saint Antony. Authorised Edition. Translated from the French with an introduction by D.F. Hannigan, LL.B. Barrister-at-Law. Illustrated with nine original designs after S. Gòrski. London: H.S. Nichols, 1895.
First edition in English. Limited edition deluxe printed in purple on Japanese vellum.
One of a very few copies printed on Japon Vellum - No limitation is provided but similar productions by Nichols and his partner Leonard Smithers ran to only 10 copies.
Royal octavo (8 15/16 x 6 1/8 inches; 228 x 155 mm.). xii, 360 pp. Nine plates including frontispiece and illustrated title-page, all in three states, green, black and blue. Printed in purple throughout, with headpieces, tailpieces and historiated initials printed in red.
Publisher's medium green silk over boards, front cover and spine pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt, back cover with small gilt 'Lion' emblem, top edge gilt, others uncut. A remarkably fine copy preserved in a green cloth chemise within a quarter green morocco slip-case.
Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) the influential French novelist, spent practically his whole life fitfully working on The Temptation of Saint Anthony (French La Tentation de Saint Antoine). He completed three versions, in 1849, 1856 (extracts published at the same time) and 1872 before publishing the final version in 1874. It takes as its subject the famous temptation faced by Saint Anthony the Great in the Egyptian desert, a theme often repeated in medieval and modern art. It is written in the form of a play script. It details one night in the life of Anthony the Great where Anthony is faced with great temptations, and it was inspired by the painting, which he saw at the Balbi Palace in Genoa.
The major character in the book are:
Saint Anthony: The protagonist. He is tempted by many characters and objects to stray from his belief that isolation is the truest form of worship.
Ammonaria: One of his sister's friends, Anthony is drawn into a battle between his desire for her and his desire to remain holy before God in his isolation. He is distraught that he cannot control his body.
The Queen of Sheba: Tempts Anthony with riches, trying to evoke lust.
Hilarion: Also known as Lucifer. Once Anthony's student, now he tries to tempt him away from his chosen lifestyle by creating doubt and eventually morphs into Science.
Lust and Death: Lust appears as a young woman; Death, an old woman. They try to convince Anthony to give in to his desires and commit suicide.