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TRISTAN, Flora.

Promenades dans Londres.

Paris: H.-L. Delloye; and W. Jeffs, London, 1840 Stock Code: 127491
£6,500.00
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"The most celebrated of all 19th-century French feminists"

First edition, notably rare, of the revolutionary French socialist and feminist's critique of London following her 1839 visit to England, emphasising the city's poverty crisis as a symptom of the English capitalist system, and written in the fluent reportorial style for which Tristan became best known. WorldCat locates just six copies in institutional holdings worldwide (3 in Germany, and 1 apiece in France, Switzerland, and Poland) and only one copy appears in auction records (Sotheby's, 2007).

"Tristan 1803-1844 is perhaps the most celebrated of all 19th-century French feminists. She had a special talent for attracting others' attention. Contemporaries remarked on her forceful personality, her daring, her beauty, and her indefatigable energy" (Moses, p. 107). Her struggles as both the poverty-stricken illegitimate daughter of a Peruvian noble and as the wife of a violently abusive husband forced her to travel at various points in her life to England (as a ladies' companion) and Peru (in the hopes of re-establishing her family ties). Upon returning to Paris in 1835 Tristan fought her husband, André Chazal, for custody of her two surviving children, and succeeded in regards to her daughter. It was not until 1836, after Chazal shot Tristan, that she was granted legal separation and the right to take back the name Tristan. Both as respite from and because of this domestic turmoil, Tristan became enthusiastically involved in a number of feminist and socialist groups and activities - she published pamphlets on female immigration, petitioned in favour of divorce and for the abolishment of capital punishment, attended meetings of the Gazette des femmes group, and engaged with the utopian socialism of the Fourierists. Her frankly recorded impression of working-class poverty in London - the so-called "Monster City" - in Promenades dans Londres won Tristan great acclaim, particularly in the republican and socialist press; it is now also considered "the first extensive nonfictional portrait of London by a woman in the 19th century" (Nord, p. 116). She followed Promenades with her most famous work, L'Union ouvrière (1843), in which she urged the working class to "leave your isolation: Unite! Union creates strength", a call for international emancipation which appeared five years before the Communist Manifesto was written. She also continually made the point that women's rights were inextricably linked to workers' rights, writing that "the emancipation of male workers is impossible so long as women remain in a degraded state" (quoted in Moses, p. 110). Tristan fell ill and died, at the age of 41, during one of her rousing speaking tours across the French countryside.

Although she is often remembered as the grandmother of Paul Gauguin, or overlooked as one of the theorists of French utopian socialism alongside the better-known Charles Fourier and Saint-Simone, Tristan's life and work merits that she be considered in her own right, under the name for which she fought so hard. For in fact, "in France, Flora Tristan holds a position comparable to that of Mary Wollstonecraft in England and Margaret Fuller in the US - as a pioneering radical feminist" (The Industrial Worker).

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Description

Octavo (207 x 127 mm). Recent red quarter calf, spine lettered and ruled in gilt, marbled boards and vellum tips, edges red, green silk bookmarker.

Condition

A fine copy, handsomely bound, the contents bright and clean with only the occasional faint foxing.

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