• <b><center>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books, Autographs & Manuscripts<br>11th-12th of October 2022
    <b>Gonnelli Oct. 11th:</b> Alfieri Vittorio, <i>Vita [...] scritta da esso,</i> 1968. Starting Price: €900,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Oct. 11th:</b> Collection of 25 albumin photographs depicting Italian, French and Swiss places. Late 19th century.
    <b>Gonnelli Oct. 11th:</b> Brandolini D’Adda Brandolino, Duale. <i>Poesia [...] e incisioni di Sandro Martini,</i> 1976.
    <b>Gonnelli Oct. 11th:</b> Alighieri Dante, <i>La divina commedia di Dante</i> edizione illustrata da 30 fotografie tolte da disegni di Scaramuzza, 1879. Starting Price: €500,00.
    Gonnelli Oct. 12th: Cervantes Saavedra Miguel (de), <i>El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha.</i> Nueva edicion corregida por la Real Academia Española, 1780. Starting price: €12.000,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Oct. 11th:</b> Collodi Carlo, <i>Le avventure di Pinocchio. Storia di un burattino,</i> 1883. Starting price: €6.000,00.
    <b>Gonnelli Oct. 11th:</b> Wilde Oscar, <i>The Picture of Dorian Gray [...]</i> with original images & notes on the text by Jim Dine, 1968. Starting price: €1.500,00
    <b>Gonnelli Oct. 11th:</b> The smallest tarot cards in the world. 21st century.
  • <center><b>Dominic Winter<br>October 12th<br>Printed Books, Stamps & Documents, Maps, Travel & Exploration
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Hottot (Robert). <i>French explorer and collector.</i> An original illustrated manuscript diary by Hottot of his expedition along the Congo River to Lake Chad, 1908-1909, £700-1,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Japan. Ino Tadataka (after), Kokugun Zenzu (Complete Atlas of Japan), 2 volumes, circa 1838, £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Khatib al-Tibrizi (Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah). <i>Mishcat-ul-masabih</i> or a collection of the most authentic traditions, regarding the actions and sayings of Muhammed; 2 volumes, Calcutta, 1809-1810, £1,500-2,000
    <center><b>Dominic Winter<br>October 12th<br>Printed Books, Stamps & Documents, Maps, Travel & Exploration
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Roberts (David). <i>The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia,</i> 1st quarto edition, 6 volumes in 3, London: Day & Son, 1855-56, £2,000-3,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Tocqueville (Alexis de). <i>De la Démocratie en Amérique,</i> volumes 1 & 2 (of 4), 1st edition, Paris: Charles Gosselin, 1835, £2,000-3,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Torquemada (Juan de). <i>Primera[-tercera] parte de los veinte i un libros rituales i monarchia Indiana,</i> 3 volumes, 2nd edition, Madrid: Nicolas Rodriguez Franco, 1723, £2,000-3,000
    <center><b>Dominic Winter<br>October 12th<br>Printed Books, Stamps & Documents, Maps, Travel & Exploration
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Donovan (Edward). <i>The Natural History of British Insects,</i> 16 volumes bound in 8, London: F and C Rivington, 1793-1813, £1,500-2,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Fuchs (Leonhart). <i>New Kreüterbuch,</i> 1st edition in German, Basel: Michael Isingrin, 1543, £7,000-10,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Spain & Portugal. Ptolemy (Claudius), <i>Secunda Europe Tabula,</i> Rome [1478 - 1509], £1,000-2,000
    <center><b>Dominic Winter<br>October 12th<br>Printed Books, Stamps & Documents, Maps, Travel & Exploration
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> World. Gill (Macdonald), <i>La Carta del Atlantico,</i> George Philip & Son Ltd in collaboration with the Time and Tide Publishing Company Ltd, circa 1943, £1,500-2,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Vinegar Bible [English]. <i>The Holy Bible, Containing the Old Testament and the New,</i> Oxford: John Baskett, 1717/1716, £700-1,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Oct. 12:</b> Mill (John Stuart). <i>The Subjection of Women,</i> 1st edition, presentation copy, London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1869, £700-1,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2020 Issue

Antoine Bret, or the Dream Life of Ninon de Lenclos

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Ninon de Lenclos

Ninon de Lenclos (1616-1706) represents the French liberated woman and the feminine “bel esprit”. She was a free thinker, and very modern in the way she lived her love and sex life and attracted renowned thinkers of her time. I recently came across a small book about her that was put together by Antoine Bret (1717-1792) in 1751: Mémoires et Lettres pour servir à l’Histoire de la Vie de Mademoiselle de L’Enclos (Rotterdam)*. A fascinating read.

 

 

We’ve already discussed Ninon’s life in a previous article, when reviewing the forged collection of letters that she allegedly exchanged with Madame de Sévigné’s son. But this book (Amsterdam, 1751) gives a true portrait of Ninon. The author, Antoine Bret, dedicates his work to one Eugénie, prophesizing: “In a distant future, Ninon’s merit will be less underlined than her weaknesses. Young people will see her as a “precious woman”, women as a woman of loose morals, and people from high society as a character embellished by enthusiasm and partiality. But you, dear Eugénie, who judges no one harshly but yourself (...), you won’t be surprised to find out that her superior understanding, her eternal beauty and her exquisite character were admired by all.” I excitedly opened L’Abbé de Feller’s Dictionnaire Historique (Liège, 1792). I was impatient to read what this man, who judged everyone harshly, had written about this woman. I was not disappointed. “She didn’t want to sell her charms too openly, and thus she practiced a sort of decent “libertinage”. As corrupted minds always welcome the mask of virtue that covers the true face of vice, her house became the meeting place of the finest courtesans of the time.” She lived in a small house, Rue des Tournelles, in Paris. An orphan from age 15, she invested her money and lived on her interest all her life. Thus she remained independent. She was very close to the burlesque writer, Scarron, and his young wife, Madame de Maintenon (who later married Louis XIV). “There were times when both women had but a single bed to share for months,” Bret writes.

 

Bret also explains that she had “the nicest legs in the world, an admirable body and a gorgeous breast. She was beautiful upon examination rather than at first sight.” But there was something irresistible about her: “When she spoke, her pronunciation and her voice were filled with voluptuousness. Even her breathing awoke desire.” As a matter of fact, she seduced men like La Rochefoucault, Prince de Condé, Coligny, or Marquis de la Châtre—and they were not attracted to her body only: “Scarron asked her about his novels, Molière about his comedies and Fontenelle about his dialogues,” L’Abbé Feller admits. But—how come, Mr Feller? “The philosophers and ‘beaux esprits’ are so weak that they are flattered by the judgement of a mere courtesan whom they appoint judge of their works and talent.” All right!

 

According to Bret, Ninon de l’Enclos always refused money from her lovers. Seducing was apparently her main concern and she did it as long as she could. L’Abbé Geodyon was 29 when he met her—and she was 79. He had to wait several months before he could get what he wanted. Then one fine day of May, “it was getting hot, and Geodoyn found her lying on her couch; he jumped at her feet and begged her, in the name of love, to give him what she had promised. She gladly complied.” He then wondered: why did she keep him waiting for so long? She replied: “I apologize, it was as hard for me as it was for you; I just wanted to wait until I turned 80—which happened yesterday evening.” In French, we say: c’est dans les vieux pots que l’on fait la meilleure soupe.**

 

There’s a dark part to her life as well. Her dissolute life caused her first son to commit suicide. She took care of him and invited him to spend a lot of time in her house outside Paris but she never told him that she was her mother—when he turned 19, he fell in love with her, and tried to kiss her. She had no choice but to tell him the truth. “He went straight to the nearby wood, and killed himself with his sword,” Bret writes. Two men later claimed to be the father of Ninon’s next son. “After several years of dispute,” Bret resumes, “they played dice to decide who was the father. The Count d’Estrées won.” Place you bets!

 

This rambling portrait is made of various anecdotes, souvenirs, odes and descriptions—it is very entertaining. We learn that Ninon didn’t like men with big hands or a big belly. “She thought it was hideous.” She also thought that wrinkles would have been more convenient should they be located on our heels rather than on our faces, etc. The book closes on a collection of letters she wrote to St. Evremond, “who never was her lover”. As Feller puts it, “they are some sort of notes written without pretension.” As a matter of fact, the forged letters later published by Crébillon Fils are far more interesting. Sometimes, fiction is stronger than truth. And in Ninon’s life, this is rare enough to be mentioned.

 

 

T.E

 

* The first edition came out the same year in Amsterdam (Rollin Fils and Bauche Fils). Our edition is a pirate one that came out in Rotterdam. It is a small in-12 volume (title page, 1 page, 212 pages).

 

** Editors note: In English. “the best soup is made in old pots.”


Posted On: 2020-12-01 05:09
User Name: mairin

Interesting and enjoyable information, Thibault. Ninon de Lenclos is an attractive subject, am inspired to know more, especially any London connections (e.g., women at the Stuart court and English women writers of her time). The Wikipedia page on Ninon is quite detailed, hoping you'll supply some edits & updates. I'll look for Ninon in my copies of Gramont's memoirs, also d'Aulnoy's. Her role as a patroness, another angle to investigate. Thank you for introducing many of us to Ninon, and for including the handsome portrait (an engraved frontis., evidently).
- Maureen E. Mulvihill, Collector & RBH Guest Writer.


Posted On: 2020-12-02 06:35
User Name: EHRENGARDT

Thanks for your kind words and your remarks, Maureen. There's indeed much more than this article about Ninon de Lenclos, whose life keeps on fascinating a lot of people today! Your links are very interesting.
T. Ehrengardt


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>October 13, 2022</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 109. Miguel de Cervantes. <i>The History of Don-Quichote. The first parte.</i> London: William Stansby for Edward Blount, 1620. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 43. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. <i>Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.</i> Washington: The White House, Christmastide, 1942. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 113. Charles Darwin. A collection of 26 titles including <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> $10,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 210. Philip Guston. Important correspondence between Philip Guston and Ralph and Martha Hyams. New York, 1967-76. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 26. John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Signed guest book and original photos from the May 19, 1962 reception. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <center><b>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>October 13, 2022</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 194. J.R.R. Tolkien. <i>The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.</i> London: George Allen and Unwin, 1954-1954-1955. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 164. Max Beerbohm. Autograph Manuscript for The Happy Hypocrite, circa 1896. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 158. Mark Twain. <i>The Writings.</i> Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1899-1907. The Autograph Edition. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 150. Lady Dilke. <i>French Painters of the XVIIIth Century.</i> London: George Bell, 1899. First edition. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 200. Ludwig Bemelmans. Original sketch of Madeline, ink and gouache. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> JOYCE, James. <i>Ulysses.</i> London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1937. PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST ENGLISH EDITION PRINTED IN ENGLAND. $50,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [SHACKLETON, Ernest]. –– BROWNING, Robert. <i>Poetical Works of…</i> London: Smith and Elder, 1906. PRESENTED TO SHACKLETON AND THE OFFICERS OF THE NIMROD BY A MEMBER OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York: George R. Lockwood, [1870]. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> ARISTOTLE. Opera, in Greek, parts one and two only: Organon and Natural Philosophy I. Edited by Aldus and others. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1 November 1495–February 1498. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> COOK, James, Capt. [Collected Voyages]. First and Second Voyages: London: W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1773, 1777; Third Voyage: London: H. Hughes for G. Nicol and T. Cadell, 1785. $14,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne (“Mark Twain”). <i>The Writings of…</i> Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1899–1900. $12,000 to $16,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>The Poems of…</i> Edited by Frederick S. Ellis. Hammersmith: William Morris for the Kelmscott Press, 1893. $12,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> LONDON, Jack. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905. PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY LONDON. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> CROWLEY, Aleister (1875–1947). <i>The Winged Beetle.</i> London: privately printed, 1910. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> WILDE, Oscar (“C.3.3.”). <i>The Ballad of Reading Gaol.</i> London: Leonard Smithers, January 1898. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> DRYDEN, John. <i>Fables Ancient and Modern; translated into verse from Homer, Ovid, Boccace, & Chaucer: with original poems.</i> London: John Tonson, 1700. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [MAP]. LINSCHOTEN, Jan Huygen van. <i>Delineatio Orarum Maritimarum…</i> London: John Wolfe, 1598. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Early Printed Books<br>October 13, 2022
    <b>Swann October 13:</b> Miguel de Cervantes, <i>The History of Don-Quichote (Quixote), The First & Second Part,</i> London, 1620. $30,000 to $40,000
    <b>Swann October 13:</b> Jacques Lagniet, <i>Recueil des Plus Illustres Proverbes, Divisés en Trois Livre,</i> first edition, Paris, 1657-63. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann October 13:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies,</i> fourth folio, London, 1685. $60,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Swann October 13:</b> Ramon Llull, <i>Liber de Ascensu et Decensu Intellectus,</i> first edition, Valencia, 1512. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Swann October 13:</b> Geoffrey Chaucer, <i>The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newlye Printed,</i> London, 1542. $30,000 to $50,000.

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