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FLAUBERT, Gustave.

Bouvard and Pécuchet.

Authorised Edition. Translated from the French with an Introduction by D. F. Hannigan.

Published: London: H. S. Nichols, 1896

Stock code: 104520

Price: £875

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First English translation of Flaubert’s final, unfinished, novel, originally published in France in 1881. Flaubert died in 1880 while working on the book that he confessed to George Sand as early as 1874 “will be the death of me!”. Ezra Pound compared it to Joyce’s Ulysses in that Flaubert set out to present “all sorts of things that the average man of the period would have had in his head”. The translation is by the Irish-born barrister D. F. Hannigan, who also translated La tentation de Saint Antoine (1895) and L’éducation sentimentale (1898), and this is very much an edition de luxe: printed in purple inks on Japanese vellum, in a luxurious binding. A rather attractive provenance, Irene Osgood was an American novelist, poet and dramatist, who spent most of her life in England. She began her literary career by writing “a passionate, slightly scandalous autobiographical novel, The Shadow of Desire” (1893), latter marrying the English novelist Robert Sherard, a friend of Oscar Wilde, and impassioned defender of Wilde’s reputation, who in their acrimonious divorce proceedings claimed that he had been the true author of his wife’s work, also revealing that their Persian cat, of which he was seeking custody, was the only thing that made life with Irene tolerable (O’Brien, “Irene Osgood, John Richmond Limited and the Wilde Circle” in Publishing History, XXII, 1987). Osgood’s novels, with titles such as To a Nun Confessed, Servitude, Behind the Fan, The Garden of Spices, The Indelicate Duellist, An Idol’s Passion, and The Chant of A Lonely Heart, have been described as “sensual, maudlin and overwrought”

Tall octavo. Original bright green silk binding, gilt lettered and decorated spine, gilt publisher’s device on back cover, large pictorial gilt block on front cover, top edges gilt, untrimmed. Title page, head and tail-pieces, and initials printed in red, frontispiece, vignette title, and 7 plates after S. Gorski printed in three states (black, burgundy, and blue), letterpress printed in purple. From the library at Guilsborough Hall, Northamptonshire (demolished 1955), so inscribed at the head of letterpress title and with contemporary ownership inscription of the then owner Irene Osgood. Spine sunned and lightly rubbed (with loss of some gilding and surface fabric), otherwise a very good copy.

Bibliography: CBEL III 102.

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