MéRIMéE Prosper (1803-1870)

Lot 175
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Estimation :
4000 - 5000 EUR
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Result : 4 680EUR
MéRIMéE Prosper (1803-1870)
La Chambre bleue [Paris, impr. Jules Claye, 1871], proofs; in-8 (18.6 x 11.7 cm); blue turquoise morocco binding, set of gilt fillets in frame, spine ribbed and decorated, inner frame gilt fillets, taupe silk endpapers, gilt edges on witnesses (Maylander). Extremely rare copy of proofs. At the fall of the Second Empire on 4 September 1870, Philippe Burty, a member of the Tuileries paper commission, found the manuscript of La Chambre bleue, a short story written by Mérimée in Biarritz in September 1866 for Empress Eugénie, in the Empress' library in the Palace. He set about having this short story published by the printer Claye, but was interrupted in his undertaking by malicious rumours and by two pirate editions that appeared in the newspapers in September 1871 (L'Indépendant belge and L'Avenir libéral). Only two proof copies (including this one) and four of the edition had been printed before the destruction of the composition. The publication of the text caused a political scandal: L'Avenir libéral, a Bonapartist newspaper, found in it a slander against the former court of Napoleon III; the news was considered gravelly by others. Two Belgian editions appeared in 1872, one of which was published anonymously by Poulet Malassis. The short story was not published in France until 1873 by Michel Lévy and adapted for the theatre the same year. This copy of proofs of the first edition, published by Philippe Burty from the autograph manuscript, is therefore extremely rare. The short story occupies pages 1 to 47. On this page is a facsimile reproduction of a sketch and the author's signature. Pages 49 to 53 (bound in this copy at the head of the book) contain a text by Philippe Burty on La Chambre bleue. Vicar, V, col. 737-738; Carteret, II, p. 153]. One bound at the head: - a small L.A.S. from Mérimée to Alfred de MUSSET, announcing that the Academy has just awarded him a prize (August 3, 1840, 1 p. in-8, address). - a long L.A.S. de Mérimée to Ivan TOURGUENIEV (Biarritz September 25 [1866], 4 p. in-8), about his translations of tales by Tourgueniev, Le Chien et Le Juif, fearing that the latter would "frighten mothers and neo-Catholics"; then he evokes La Chambre bleue: "I made our ladies swallow the other evening a little story I wrote here and which is a bit hazardous. It is about two lovers who are in an inn room making love while extraordinary things are happening in a room next door. I had designed my subject to be very tragic [...] As the thing dragged on and bored me, I ended with a buffoonery, which is bad"... PROVENANCE Arthur MEYER (Paris 1924, n° 415) ; Laurent MEEÛS (ex-libris, n° 1341) ; Charles HAYOIT (ex-libris, V, n° 122)
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